My Tools Of The Trade

  ·  5 minute read

I thought I’d put together a list of the applications I use on a day to day basis. Whether that be at work doing client projects, or when I’m at home working on my own projects. I’ve also given a short explanation of what I use them for:


Google Chrome: Pretty obvious, but should be mentioned. Apart from actually running websites I’ve built, I also use it to interact with colleagues on Basecamp and track my studio time in Freeagent. Then there’s browsing websites for inspiration, or for learning purposes. Finally the most important element of chrome, the inspector. I use it solve bugs, and to figure out how other sites have achieved certain effects.



Photoshop: Yes I use Ps for the actual design process of my websites, I realise Fireworks was built for it, and that there’s a load of other applications out there that are supposed to do a better job. But I’ve used Photoshop since I was at school, I know how it works and I know how to make it work for me. I use it to wireframe my sites, design my sites, pick out colour palettes, create icons / graphics, edit images and load of other stuff.



Coda: Coda is great, and despite some of the weird UI choices in Coda 2 I still think so. I use it with my iCloud account so the sites I setup in Coda sync between my work and home machines. Keeping my workflow consistent wherever I’m working. I’ll quickly run through the languages I code with; CSS, LESS (CSS compiler), HTML, PHP, and a bit of JavaScript. I use the Specials Board theme for my syntax highlighting. Dark background with light text, but not neon light like some other highlighters I’ve seen out there.



CodeKit: A lovely bit of kit that I run alongside Coda, constantly monitoring the project I’m working on. Checks & compiles my LESS into minified CSS, checks & minifies my JavaScript and even crunches my images. The guardian angel over my websites. If I could give any tips for using this I’d suggest that if you’re making a theme, say for example a WordPress theme, that you set just the theme as the project in CodeKit. While it might be cool to crunch the entire site, its not cool trying to debug code you didn’t write and having it crash every time you hit save.



Sequel Pro: When I open Sequel Pro I’m either transferring a database over or fixing a broken one, I’m looking at you WordPress. At least Anchor CMS doesn’t store the root URL in the database. Thankfully Sequel Pro makes these tasks much easier. I used to fear databases incase I broke something, but now I realise its just data. Sequel Pro is certainly an application that I take for granted.



MAMP: I normally use MAMP at home to work on sites locally. I launch it and close it, it’s set to my sites folder so I don’t bother configuring it. Unless I need to work on something awkward like a WordPress Multisite. Here’s a tip, avoid WordPress Multisite. Sure its great that you can use the same installation to run several websites, but it seriously sends you mad when it breaks (and it will). In the studio I use a local server that we initiate through terminal, much cleaner method.



Gitbox: I was a little late to the Git party, but as soon as someone explained it to me I loved it. I use Gitbox to manage my repos on GitHub, BitBucket and on our own git system installed on the studio server. Its simple design was inspired by Mail for mac, but personally I think it works better than Mail does. Gitbox is simple and logical, which is a winning combination in my eyes.



Terminal: Apart from MAMP I use Terminal the least. It is very useful but I’m only using for minutes at a time. This will be normally to deploy a website from a repo, initiate a local server or tweaking the vhosts. I have been trying out using Git with Terminal, which I enjoyed but found a little tedious. It’s not that difficult, but I think it’s my creative mind wanting to get on with the more important parts of the job at hand.


So those are the applications I use everyday. Should give you a little insight into what I have to deal with everyday to do my job, whether that be in the studio or at home. Hope this was useful.

Cheers, Dave

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