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Minimum Viable Workstation

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Minimum Viable Workstation

· Mobile Zone ·
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As a freelancer, I frequently find myself working in of a lot of different places, from coffee shops to beaches. This means that I need a fairly flexible workstation: good for home, but easily carried and used in other venues. When I first started out, I had a full workstation: 15" MacBook Pro, a separate monitor, mouse, and keyboard.

Eventually, I switched to a 13" MacBook Air.

After a while, I got rid of the monitor.

Then, the keyboard.

Finally, the mouse.

And ever since, I’ve just toted around the Air as my entire workstation—but is it possible to work with less? What is it that prevents us, as designers and developers, from working on a smaller device?

It’s not the lack of services: TypeKit, GitHub, Basecamp, Harvest, Pivotal/Lighthouse all make project management easy. It’s not the lack of hardware: between iPads, iPhones, Android tablets, and Bluetooth keyboards, we’re pretty well covered.

I don’t think screen space is the biggest impediment, either. Rather, the real stopper is the software that has stubbornly stayed “desktop only": our coding and design environments. After so many years, we have not yet solved the problem of editing and reviewing Photoshop/Illustrator/Fireworks files on a mobile device, nor adequately built a mobile coding environment.

Perhaps we need to perfect the remote machine/local UI hybrid. Perhaps there is another, better solution. All I know is, I’d eventually like my workstation to fit in my jacket pocket.


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