Updated November 2013
This is an updated version of my previous post: Tools of my Trade from June this year. A lot changes in the online world of software and services, and my working practices reflect that. I’ve spent the last few years honing my craft and really whittling down the tools of my trade.
Often the reason I use something isn’t always because it’s pretty or fast but because it does exactly what I need it to in a way that is memorable, convenient and/or intuitive.
Feel free to get in touch about what you find useful, whether you’ve moved from one of the below tools, or something you don’t understand.
I’m a Mac user through and through, and used to rarely fire up Windows to do anything but testing. This has since changed when a new client needed support for an ASP.NET MVC application. I use a Mac mini daily, connected to a 27″ cinema display with wireless keyboard and mouse.
Wouldn’t be without it now, although it has it’s quirks, generally it’s far better and faster than Safari or Firefox.
Since switching from using Google Apps to Fastmail for email, I’ve also changed my preference for email client. Airmail is almost 100% what I need on a daily basis. It’s spot on for multiple email accounts with it’s unified inbox approach.
It’s taken some while to find a very good code editor that does enough clever stuff but without getting annoying. I used to use Netbeans for some while but it’s a heavy application running on Java. Coda 2 certainly seems light in comparison and works fast without getting in the way, and I use it for all my HTML, PHP, CSS and JS work.
Wouldn’t be without CodeKit. If you work in CSS, LESS and JS like I do, it’s completely invaluable. If you’ve not tried it, then you are missing out. Sure there are other tools like this out there but, like I said at the beginning of this post, this app just gets it right.
I don’t use this as often as perhaps I should but with seamless iPhone and iPad syncing it’s very handy. Thank god my wife doesn’t have access to it otherwise I’d have to-do lists for everything, not just my work!
Photoshop and Fireworks
Adobe and me aren’t the best of mates, I use Photoshop because I have to, but I used to love Fireworks. Still do, but there are better tools emerging that I’ve started to use more. For print work, I don’t really have a choice though.
One of the best niche apps I’ve found recently, with tons of resources starting to appear. Works really well for retina graphics and multiple workspaces within the same document. If it did print quality (300 dpi and CMYK) I’d ditch Photoshop and Fireworks in an instance!
Love, love, love WriteRoom. Wouldn’t be without it for pure concentrated writing. Silly really, as it’s such a simple app but with an iPhone/iPad version that has Dropbox integration as well you can’t ask for more (may be Markdown support?).
If you work with PHP and MySQL on a Mac, then MAMP is the only way to go if you don’t want headaches. It doesn’t get simpler or easier to control the environment you’re developing for. And it does keep getting better, although they are a little slow when it comes to updates.
Since Google Reader went down later this year I’ve switched to Feedly for all my consumption of RSS feeds. Combined with Readkit it works really well for just desktop reading. Feedly also provides the syncing between my iPad app too.
Chaperone and Concentrate
The ultimate combination to help me really knuckle down and get stuff done. Chaperone nags me if I start doing something else that isn’t in my defined list and Concentrate bans me from using certain apps and websites during that period.
It’s like having my wife watching over my shoulder ALL THE TIME!
Online Apps and Services
There aren’t many online apps I use but these few are absolutely invaluable.
Love Pocket, every time I’m reading something I should be reading later, hit the Pocket icon and it’s in my account for another time. Very, very useful especially used with their tagging system. Most of the research for my books and projects ends up there.
I purchased a license for this a while ago but never got around to moving my invoicing, time tracking and project management over. Taking a punt, I recently upgraded to v4 (beta) and have fallen in love again.
Let me know what you think of this list, it’s just my own thoughts and obviously the tools I use all day every day to get jobs done.