Tools of the Trade

As a developer, I’m always interested in finding new tools. Often this comes from chatting with other developers and finding out what they use and why. In the spirit of this, below are the tools I use a daily basis in case it helps someone else find somethig useful.

Hardware

  • 15” Retina MacBook Pro with a 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7, 16 GB of RAM and a 750 GB flash drive. I’ve found that I really appreciate the retina screen and would loathe going back. For when I need to test non-retina graphics, I use one of my external monitors.
  • Magic Trackpad - I’ve been using the Magic Trackpad for years now. Having a wide array of gestures available is extremely handy, and it’s made a world of difference for my wrist issues.
  • Dell 24” U2412M Monitor - For when one screen is not enough. What I like about this monitor is that it can be adjusted to be vertical. This is nice for placing a full-screen Chrome window with the bottom third dedicated to the Console. My work setup includes two of these, one in vertical for a full-screen browser, and another in horizontal for all of my auxiliary apps.
  • Adesso Tru-Form Contoured Ergonomic - I’ve been using this keyboard at home for many years. I’m ready to retire it, but not sure with what yet. I’m not happy enough with my work keyboard to switch to that at home as well.
  • Kinesis Freestyle2 Ergonomic Keyboard - This is my keyboard at work. It allows you to adjust the angle any way you like, but is too easy to knock around requiring realignment. Sometimes the odd key layout can be an issue. The lack of a keypad on the right does allow for the trackpad to be closer to the keyboard, which is nice. Yesterday, the new Microsoft sculpt arrived and is being tested as a possible replacement.

Software

  • Adium - If you need to communicate with people using different chat protocols, Adium has you covered. It can do AIM, MSN, Jabber, Yahoo, Google, ICQ and more.
  • Adobe Creative Cloud - When working with designers, having Photoshop is a must. I still prefer working with Fireworks when editing images on my own. Currently Edge Inspect isn’t part of our university license, but I’m pusing to get it added as it’s a very nice tool for remote device debugging. I’m currently using the free version which is limited.
  • Byword - I use Byword for all of my notetaking needs. I much prefer writing in Markdown to any GUI app. And since they have iOS versions that I can interface with Dropbox, my notes are available no matter which device I’m using.
  • Coda - I’ve used Coda since it was in beta. If you ever need to work directly from a server, it’s a fantastic all-in-one front-end app.
  • Textmate 2 - Yes, I’ve tried Sublime Text, but it’s never offered enough to get me off of the (now) free Textmate 2. Unlike TM1, TM2 is receiving a lot of updates (a couple a week).
  • Status Board - Status Board Status board is a fun little app if you’re into monitoring feeds throughout your day. My current setup shows a combination of custom feeds from our project tracking software, Twitter feeds I’m only partially interested in, this sites feed stats, and two calendars.
  • TeamworkPM - We use TeamworkPM to track projects, tasks and a myriad of other in-shop need-to-knows. One of the reasons we chose it is because it includes an API for when its built-in functionality isn’t enough.
  • Tweetbot - I switched to Tweetbot this year on all my devices (Mac, iPhone, iPad). Having the built-in sync for reading position, mutes and lists helps keep me sane.
  • ImageAlpha - Any PNG that I put on the web goes through ImageAlpha first. It does a fantastic job of knocking KB off even if it’s not a png with an alpha channel.
  • ImageOptim - Sibling to ImageAlpha, I use ImageOptim on jpg’s. While it usually doesn’t knock a ton of size off an image, every little bit helps.
  • VMWare Fusion - While BrowserStack works well in most cases, sometime having a slightly faster VM to test on makes sense. I use it with Microsoft’s free VM’s for testing IE’s.

Browser Extensions

I use Chrome as my primary browser these days, so all the tools listed below are Chrome extensions.

  • Awesome Screenshot - Screenshots are easy on the Mac, but when you want to caputure an entire webpage (top-to-bottom) Awesome Screenshot is, well, awesome.
  • BuiltWith Technology Profiler - The BuiltWith extension is just a quick utility to pull the same info as the parent site.
  • ColorZilla - Color picker and gradient generator. Easy peasy.
  • Google Analytics Debugger - If you ever try to do custom events and tracking with GA, this is an easy way to make sure it’s working rather than waiting on GA to tell you a day later.
  • Web Developer - The Web Developer plugin has been around for years on Firefox. The Chrome version has quite a different interface, but still has all the great tools for debugging sites.
  • YSlow - Because sometimes you want to know why a page is slow.

Services

  • Box - We all have 50 GB Box accounts through work. Not as nice of a syncing setup as Dropbox, but hey, 50 GB. Just make sure that if you use their syncing app, you cancel sycing when on battery or you’ll regret it.
  • Dropbox is a fantastic utility for all your file syncing needs. I use it for storing all my personal notes and docs that I want to access across devices. Byword has access to my Dropbox account, so I can manage all of my notes on any device. Think Evernote without the nasty editor.
  • Feedly - Back in the day I read all of the blogs I needed to by opening them one-by-one every morning to see if there was new content. As the number of web related sites grew, tools like Google Reader became necessary. When Google announced the demise of Reader, Feedly was one of those services that offered an easy way to port your Reader account to their service. They offer a nice web interface which I use on laptop, and they have native apps for iOS.
  • FeedPress - I used to use Feedburner for tracking blog subscriptions. But once Google announced they were killing Reader, I decided to find a Feedburner alternative BEFORE they announce they’re killing it (hasn’t happened yet, but give it a few minutes). FeedPress offers a json feed of the stats that is easily consumed by Status Board.
  • Gaug.es - Gaug.es debuted as a live stats tracking app back before Google Analytics offered a similar service. Even with live tracking in GA, I still prefer how Gaug.es breaks down data and makes it easy to find basic info.
  • GitHub - For the codes. And this site.
  • HipChat - HipChat is similar to Campfire. Create rooms, chat with co-workers about completely off-topic stuff.
  • Jekyll - Jekyll is Ruby-based static site generator. I switched off Wordpress to Jekyll for this site back in December 2012 and couldn’t be happier about the switch.
  • Speaker Deck - Speaker Deck is fantastic place to store presentations.

Utilities

  • Bartender - I run more utilities than I should. And as a result, my titlebar started to become a little too overpopulated. Thanks to Bartender, it’s now much shorter, and the rest of the icons are called on an as-needed.
    Before and after Bartender<figcaption>Before and after Bartender</figcaption>
  • BetterTouchTool - Apple allows for a certain level of customization when it comes to trackpad gestures, but BTT takes that customization to a whole new level.
  • Choosy - As a developer, it’s not unusual for me to be running three browsers at any given time. Choosy is a utility that makes it easy to open any link in the browser of your choice. When a link is activated, Choosy shows a quick interface with all running browsers. Select the browser you want to use and boom, webpage. If you happen to be running only one browser, you can tell Choosy to not even ask.
  • Droplr - Great for when you need to quickly share a screen-shot.

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