Choosing the right tools for your everyday work can take time. You start with the standards which everyone uses and gradually you start to discover other alternatives that best suits your needs and workflows.
In the latest 12 years I’ve used a lot of software for Windows and for Mac. I had times where I used to do music production and that involved a lot of technology as well. Today though, I’m going to talk about the software and hardware I use on a daily basis.
I switched to Mac almost 5 years ago and I never thought of going back to Windows. I now have a MacBook Pro with Retina Display and when at home, I connect it to my 23” Samsung full HD LED display, which can be really useful while designing stuff. Since my laptop has an SSD drive with a limited capacity, I got a 2TB fixed HDD and a mobile 1TB USB 3 HDD to store data that I use on the go. I also have other stuff, but this is what I really use everyday.
The main tool I really can’t live without, is
Terminal. Terminal is a low level power tool and I use it everyday for stuff like creating new projects, installing software dependencies or even to move files from a place to another. It’s really important for every developer in my opinion.
Sublime Text 3 is my editor of choice. I’ve tried lots of other stuff like Flash Develop (on Windows) in the old days of ActionScript. On Mac then, Flash Builder, Dreamweaver and many, many others. Then I came across the trend of simplicity and I liked it. I used TextMate for quite a long time but then I met Sublime Text. It’s fast, customizable and extensible. Its community is tremendous and its plugins are never ending. This, my friends, is the real deal.
I consider Firebug for Firefox a WYSIWYG tool when it comes to front end development. I also use the Webkit web inspector on Chrome (because its Firebug plugin is useless) but in my opinion it’s not really user friendly. Firefox also renders text better than Chrome, but that’s another story.
Source Control is the ultimate way to keep a history of your code and with no doubt, Git is the king of all. Though I use terminal to push, clone and commit my work, using a GUI tool wouldn’t be a bad idea. I came across Tower, which I use to monitor changes and branch graphs, to merge/push my commits with a couple of clicks… on those lazy days.
This one is not really a development tool but I really use it to automate some work. Alfred, which is mainly a faster search tool for your Mac, can also be programmed to automate tasks, browse your iTunes library and more. I really consider this one as a “companion” that I’ve been using since their first release.
Photoshop. Though I believe it’s not for UI design – due to its excess of features that are more related to graphics manipulation – I used to use it extensively in the past years, for both web design and photo editing. Then I came across Sketch, which is a neat vector based design tool specifically for UI design. It’s really small and it doesn’t cost a fortune. I tried it and it quickly became my UI design tool of choice. It still suffers from some bugs though, but it gets the job done. It took approximately one week to get used to it and I now use it for all my UI design projects.
Pochade is another small tool which I can’t really live without. It’s basically a color picker for Mac but for me it’s much more than that. It lives in my toolbar and it picks colors across the screen, store collections of them, copies them to the clipboard in different formats and more. If you work with colors, you should definitely check it out.
SnapRuler, is another tool I use to measure on-screen stuff. It has some really powerful features like “snapping” to the starts and endings of whatever is on your screen while measuring. It takes dimensions to your clipboard in various formats, like CSS, or in Objective-C and so on. It can also take screenshots of your measured boundaries. Very cool indeed.
Choosing the right fonts is crucial. That’s why I use Typekit, which is a neat service from Adobe which provides great fonts for your web products. I have subscribed to the Portfolio plan which gives me plenty of fonts for an unlimited number of websites. It’s relatively cheap and it’s really fast. One great feature is it can even sync your chosen fonts with your desktop so you can use them on apps like Photoshop or Sketch.
That was it. Of course there are lots of other apps I use but these are the ones that I really use whenever I put the creative hat on.