Tools of the Trade

There are plenty of blogs and podcasts going around at the moment with names such as “10 CSS Tricks I can’t live without” and “20 essential web developer resources”, well this is going to be another of those blogs – I am not going to tell you which software to download or which tricks you should employ because I know I will have people commenting such as “Hey Mr Skelli Man, you forgot to say this” and I’m not going to call it “The things I can’t live without” because, as Paul at BoagWorld.com said in his podcast, someone would turn around and say: “Well he hasn’t said ‘Breathing’, you couldn’t live without breathing!”.

So instead, I’m going to tell you what hardware I use, then the software. I may go on to mention some web standards and useful bookmarks too – although that may be for another time because it is almost midnight and the Cranberries are singing me to sleep…

First up, Hardware:
Since the age of 10, I’ve been fiddling with, repairing and generally hacking PCs. It will be no surprise for you to learn that on my desk I have two PCs, next to my desk I have a temporary table set up holding my laptop. Taking pride-of-place on my desk is my new iMac 20″ with a secondary 20″ widescreen TFT. I have a generic Epson multifunction device (for printing invoices, proposals and the like), a cute little slide scanner (that I bought specifically for building www.balh.co.uk), a cheeky little Ipevo Skype Phone that Marc bought for me and of course, the Trusty iPod 60gb!

I am completely moving over to an Apple/Linux development environment for reasons that I need not explain in this post, but am forced to keep at least one Windows PC for my accounts software. Please don’t suggest Bootcamp, please? There’s a good reader. I shall explain in due course why…!

That leads us nicely on to software:
I currently use ClearlyBookkeeping for my books – this is simply a branded version of QuickBooks and has served me very well for the last three years. On PC, for web dev I actually use (Adobe) Macromedia Dreamweaver, this is NOT for the WYSIWYG editor, in fact I haven’t seen that for a few months, it’s simply for code formatting and colouring etc. I use Photoshop for graphical work, but I generally tend to leave this to actual designers and don’t even pretend to believe I’m any good at it! For version control, I use Subversion along with the TortoiseSVN shell extensions. I use IE 7 and FFX 2 on this PC and sometimes fire up IE6 on Virtual PC if I am feeling too lazy to boot up the laptop.

On the laptop, I’ve discovered the really handy Zend Studio for development, this is so much more productive than Dreamweaver and allows you to define filetypes properly (e.g. if I’m writing a Grails app using the .gsp file extension I can set up Zend to know that gsp uses a lot of html like tags and attributes and so still use code completion). Zend, like TextMate (see below), has built in SVN support. I also use Subversion/Tortoise on the laptop. I use IE 6 for testing sites and FFX 2 for general surfing.

Now to the important one – the Mac!
For development I use TextMate, this is a wonderful little text editor, very cheap but powerful and expandable (the Grails guys even released some Grails/Groovy bundles). I have downloaded a trial version of the Zend Development Environment but am in two minds whether or not to actually use it as I’ve already paid my 39 Euros for TextMate. I browse using both FFX2 and Safari, I RSS using Safari and Podcast using iTunes.

No matter which machine I am using I am signed in to Skype and MSN (Live) Messenger for a huge portion of the day and night!

I have always been an HTML, CSS and PHP man by choice, but recently I have dropped HTML in favour of XHTML Strict; I continue to use PHP for simple sites/personal projects but I have been talked into using Groovy/Grails and am currently learning to use it properly and expand my knowledge of it. For those that don’t know, Grails is a super-quick and efficient java-based web framework developed by Graham Rocher and a small team of dedicated Java programmers. We have used it to deploy www.copellafruitjuices.co.uk and www.tropicana.co.uk for PepsiCo UK in the last two months.

To ensure all of this goes smoothly we utilise Atlassian Jira for project management and issue tracking, along with Subversion, hosted over at devgaurd.com.

So that’s it, that’s how I run my whole development life! I’m sure I’ll think of more, but if so I’ll add more to this post.

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