A craftsperson is only as good as the tools she uses. And since we, as independent web developers, consider ourselves to be craftspeople, the same statement applies to us. In fact, as web developers, we build tools ourselves. Take a peek at what's in my toolbox. Read more...
We started our company in June of 2008, and since then we've used a number of different applications for both technical and process-related work. Some of them have been desktop apps, most of them web-based, and not all of them created equal.
I can't speak to the technical side of things, because I'm not a coder. It'd be great if Cameron could do a run-down of his digital tool box, but alas he's a busy man these days.
What I can speak to, though, are the process-related tools that help us run our business. Our tools are made by companies of varying sizes, from mega-corporations to mid-size software venders to open-source independent ninja coders. Some of the apps are free, but most are paid.
A note on how I use my comptuer
These are some basic tips that Cameron passed has passed on to me throughout the last year. I love watching nerds use computers, it's an elegant thing.
System Preferences: I suggest that everyone explore the system preferences app and learn how to control your computer.
Spotlight vs Dock: I don't use the dock at all. It also has been stripped of all inactive applications. I use command-spacebar to launch spotlight and spell out the name of the application I want to use. After you get used to thinking what you want to do instead of seeing what you want to do, you open apps at the speed of thought - it's faster.
My application tool-belt is large and in charge
Hit-List: For personal task-management software, this is my personal favourite. We're sort of a mixed-bag when it comes to this decision. Cameron uses Omnifocus, Justin uses Things; they're all great apps and it doesn't matter what you choose. What matters is that you use them every day.
Fluid is a "site specific browser," but really it's an app that lets you run a web-based app just like a native desktop application. So the whole process is I think of the app I need to use, I launch it from the spotlight, and even if it's a web-based app I can make the tool-choosing experience fast and consistent.
Basecamp (which we chose in favour of Backpack) is great if you have a group of civilians who are geographically dispersed and need to share documents and knowledge. It's also a nifty tool to track web content moving through the production pipeline.
Campfire (made by the same folks that make Basecamp) replaced Adium because sand-boxed IM conversations among a web development team is equal to throwing piles of money out of an open window. Campfire let's you share and search one secure chatroom, and it helps you understand more of what your colleagues do for a living.
Pivotal Tracker replaced Unfuddle because it's devastatingly effective. Pivotal is elegant, with the minimum required amount of features. It is truly a wonderful piece of software and I'd love to see that model applied to other disciplines. I showed it to my Bay street lawyer buddy and he was like, "whoa, we could totally use this too."
If Cameron were writing this, I'd have him explain why we use Github instead of Unfuddle to host our code. From what I gather, Github is all the rage these days.
Skype lets me have infinite amounts of long distance in the US and Canada for about 3 bucks a month. Last month Fido hit me with a long distance bill and I realized something had to give. It works great.
1Password is a browser plug in that remembers your login credentials for all of your sites, and allows you to create super-duper complex passwords that you could never hope to remember. And while it doesn't fully address the fundamental problems with the username/password model of online identification, it can prevent Phishing and other forms of identity theft.
Go To Meeting is a screen-sharing tool for geographically dispersed teams.
iCal and gmail calendars, when synced to your iPhone, provide a constant state of organizational bliss.
Text Edit is my text editor of choice because it's so lightweight.
Expression Engine is our turn-key CMS of choice for basic websites. Anything less would be uncivilized.
Skitch is a free screen-capturing application that lets you mark-up and share screencaps quickly and easily. An indispensable tool for reporting bugs and other issues.
Address Book replaced Highrise because we figured out how to archive email properly using gmail and Mail for Mac.
Firefox is my personal browser of choice.
Garage Band is the application I've been using lately to make music. You don't need crazy software to make great tunes.
And I can't forget to mention that everyday we watch Countdown with Keith Olbermann while we eat our home-made office lunches.
Wow, that's a lot of apps. I probably use about 12-15 on a daily basis. I'd love to hear about the tools that other web-developers use. If you decide to share, ping me and let me know.