Does (not?) compute…

2 January 2009

A few people have asked me recently what tools I use to do the web work I do. So I thought I’d do a rundown of the top apps that make me productive. In writing this, I have realized that I may, in fact, have the most boring jam-packed Dock in all of Mac-land.

BBEdit [text/code editor] (and not just for the obvious reasons) — When I first started using a Mac professionally, it was out of necessity. My Windows machine had blown a motherboard, and the only available loaner was an iMac (StudioDV, the smokey one). I was the only one in the office who was still using Windows, so my colleagues were more than happy to offer me help and advice on appropriate software. BBEdit is the reason I stuck with the Mac. Edit over FTP? Things like ‘Process Lines Containing’ and built-in Tidy and an instant live Preview…it works like I do. Light, powerful, and can clean/update/edit/create faster than anything else out there. I spend most of my day in BBEdit, and not just writing code…but jotting notes, lists, doing information architecture, etc.

LaunchBar [app launching tool] — Shortly after I got my first Mac, I installed LaunchBar. Since then, I’ve gotten quite a few new Macs (hmm…let’s see…at least eight or nine…) and the first thing I install is LaunchBar. I don’t know where any of my apps live. I don’t need to clear off my desktop or have them in the dock to launch them. (Also finds people in the Address Book.) Command-space and the first letter or two, enter. It’s in my muscle memory. Saves me many minutes every day.

Fugu [SFTP client] — Free, BSD-licensed, academic. It’s simple, clean, and always seems to work. Can’t ask for more than that from a client like that.

Fetch [FTP client] — Free academic license (thanks Jim!), and for the one server I have to log into with FTP, it works a treat. Fast, and cute puppy.

xScope [visual design support] — I tried xScope on a whim when it first came out, and I have saved insane amounts of time since. It allows you to measure web-page objects, among other things. So, I have a photo that I want to replace…rather than viewing the image and getting info, or opening it in Photoshop (neither of which necessarily gives you the right info, as the image could be scaled in the CSS or HTML), you just hover over the image, and the pixel dimensions show up. I highly endorse this product and/or service.

LiveScribe Desktop [digital notebook] — This software is the interface between my Mac and my LiveScribe pen. Being able to open that up, type in someone’s name, and find all the meeting notes for all the meetings I’ve ever been in with that person is quite handy.

Yojimbo [information aggregator] — I like junk drawers. I can always find what I need in my junk drawer. Same is true with Yojimbo. I keep all my serial numbers, passwords, and receipts from stuff bought on line in here.

FileMagnet [iPod/iPhone sync] — Some info is important enough that I want to have it with me all the time, but I don’t want it in the cloud. It’s primarily stuff I export from Yojimbo, and then transfer with FileMagnet. Works great. (I posted some details of the Yojimbo/FileMagnet workflow on the Yojimbo talk list.)

Photoshop [image editor] — If BBEdit is my right hand, Photoshop is my left. I don’t LOVE it, but working on the web without it would be like trying to slice bread without a knife. There are tools that are lighter and sleeker and cooler and written in Cocoa, but there’s nothing that comes close to the brute-force power that Photoshop has. Period.

Camino [web browser] — Sure, I use Safari and Firefox, too, and the Web Developer Toolbar is crucial for some tasks. But for some reason, I enjoy browsing in Camino better. It’s faster than either. And even though it has that bug where it doesn’t know how to display buttons properly, I still find it to be the best choice for me. Of course, choosing a browser is like choosing a flavor of chocolate.

VMWare Fusion [Windows virtualization] — I have to test everything on IE. Because people still USE IE you see. 🙂

SLife [time tracker] — Gives me a broad view of which apps I spend the most time in, and vaguely what I was doing. It’s kinda neat.


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