Tools of my Trade

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 rarely fire up Windows to do anything but testing. I use a Macbook Pro daily, connected to a 27″ cinema display with wireless keyboard and trackpad.


Desktop Apps

Google Chrome
Wouldn’t be without it now, although it has it’s quirks, generally it’s far better and faster than Safari or Firefox.

Sparrow
As I’m a Google Apps user (more on that below), I love Sparrow for my email – just plugs straight into both my accounts and I’m away. It’s got some great features, like a unified inbox and aliases/identies with individual signatures.
Shame Google bought it a while ago and it’s not been actively developed since.

Coda 2
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.

CodeKit
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.

Things
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.

Sketch
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!

WriteRoom
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?).

MAMP Pro
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.

Reeder
Not entirely sure what I’m going to do when Google Reader goes down later this year. I solely use Reeder to consume just about all the news, feeds and updates I could possibly want. Syncs with the iPad app and Google Reader itself to mark stories as read. Beautifully simple.

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!

Transmit, Tower and iTerm 2
All cracking utility applications for FTP, SFTP, working with Git and command line access to various servers that form part of daily routine.

Complimentary mentions to Evernote, Skype, iTunes, Dropbox, Phone Amego, OpenOffice and TotalFinder.


Online Apps and Services

There aren’t many online apps I use but the few I do are absolutely invaluable.

Google Apps
Where would we be without Google Apps, especially for email. I’ve used their services for years, having previously spent way too much time self-hosting my email, dealing with ups and downs and full mailboxes etc. All of that has gone away, and with multiple domains mapped onto the same account, it’s happy days.

CodebaseHQ and PointHQ
Superb services from aTech Media (they’ve just sold PointHQ to Copper.io). DNS and Git hosting done right. Simples.

Pocket
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.

Pancake
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.
And don’t forget to check out my new book ‘The Business Website Handbook‘.