I love seeing what tools people use throughout a project lifecycle. Finding a tool that you can use every day is a great feeling.
I thought I’d share what I use during a project and pretty much every day at RITH:
Chrome – WebKit browser of choice
Chrome’s tiny and unobtrusive, er chrome… is what makes me so fond of this browser. That and the speed, security and extension support. Speaking of which, I often rely on the utter convinience of Chrome to phone and shared tab sessions across [Android] devices. It just works.
It also makes for a fabulous testing environment—perfect for iOS PhoneGap development as it is a WebKit browser. The frequent updating keeps it hot on the heels of the W3C working specification drafts.
When I’m using Windows: I also use Chrome.
Gmail, Google Documents, Google Calendar and Skype – project management
Ok, these aren’t web development tools but I sure couldn’t develop without them. Well I probably could, but they make things a hell of a lot easier. Since 2004 I have used Gmail for all email correspondance and for the last three years; Google Documents for all document creation (proposals, quotes, contracts, invoices etc) and Google Calendar for all project scheduling.
Having everything in one place absolutely makes sense. I’m not tied to a particular machine and wherever I am, I can access all project planning.
Skype, with a webcam, makes communication with remote clients/partners easy.
When I’m using Windows: I also use Gmail, Google Documents, Google Calendar and Skype.
Textmate – the perfect text editor
My first experience of creating websites was using Dreamweaver 3. I stuck with everyone’s favourite WYSIWYG editor until around 2005 when I switched to using the brilliant Notepad++, for Windows. The freedom of a plain and simple text editor was definitely more suited to my style of development—I loathed any kind of intellisense tag completion.
When I switched to a Mac in 2009 I needed a new editor and it was between Coda, Sublime or TextMate. I tried them all but TextMate stood out far and above. I’ve used it every day since installing it and it’s the one program I could not live without. There are a few minor gripes, such as the harrowing single character deleting limit but I’m sure that will be ironed out with TextMate 2.
When I’m using Windows: I also use Notepad++.
Sequel Pro – database manager
Pretty much every project I work on uses a database and Sequel Pro is the perfect, no-frills, to the point database manager. It has everything you need to managing all your databases with.
When I’m using Windows: I use the community edition of SQLyog.
Starting to use Git for version control a couple of years ago really has changed the way I develop. And the release of GitHub for Mac just made the whole commit process an absolute breeze.
When I’m using Windows: I use Git and the command prompt (ugh).
Balsamiq Mockups – quick wireframing
I’ve never really been a fan of creating a paper wireframes. I think the industry puts too much emphasis on using pen and paper right at the start of a project to prototype things. I’m much more of the belief of designing in the browser using a rapid prototype framework. When I create wireframes I use the wonderful Balsamiq Mockups. It’s like a chilled out OmniGraffle, with a sketchy feel.
When I’m using Windows: I also use Balsamiq.
Spotify – music
I struggle to work in silence. I much prefer to be listening to something—it helps me get into a rhythm. Spotify and GitHub are the two apps I am more than happy to subscribe to with a monthly fee. I can’t imagine working without Spotify.
When I’m using Windows: I also use Spotify.
Twitter for Mac – Twitter client
I recently closed my Facebook account; I was spending a lot of time on it but wasn’t sure why. It had just become something that was there and part of my procrastination routine. Twitter on the other hand remains one of my favourite things—I can talk to likeminded individuals, easily. I say easily because the Twitter for Mac/iOS app is probably my favourite, and most used, apps of all time. It’s slick, unobtrusive, beautiful and rolled together into a tiny window.
It’s essential to my development because I like to discuss what I’m working on and I learn something new almost every day from reading a broad spectrum of tweets.
When I’m using Windows: I use the Twitter website.
Other project specific tools
Of course, the above tools are ones that I use most frequently. There are many that others that I use on specific projects. Most notably:
- Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection – server management
- XCode + PhoneGap – iOS app development
- Eclipse + PhoneGap – Android app development
- FileZilla – FTP client
- Photoshop/Illustrator – design comps