Robert’s recent post setting up an agile webmaster workstation got me thinking about what software I utilize as an agile webmaster. While I agree (mostly) with his list, I have a few additions and alternatives.
I agree with Robert’s list here wholeheartedly. (for those just tuning in, Robert recommends installing the lastest Firefox, Opera, and Safari browsers. He also has both IE6 and 7 installed). I would just like to expand on the IE bit. Microsoft does not allow you to have both versions of internet explorer installed at the same time, so a workaround is needed. I prefer using software called Multiple IE by Tredosoft. It uses DLL redirection to allow you to install as many versions of IE as you want (from 3.0 to 6.0!)
- Zend Studio – I spend most of my time developing PHP, and as such I find Zend Studio to be a godsend. It is not free software, but the Standard Version can be had for $99, and provides all basic functionality. With this software, you never had to worry about misspelled variables, forgotten semi-colons, or the order of arguments for a function ever again. If you are a PHP developer who hasn’t used it, download the trial, you’re in for a treat.
- PSPad – when I coding in a language other then PHP, or I just need to make a quick edit, I prefer PSPad. It is an excellent piece of freeware that has some powerful built in text manipulation tools, all with keyboard shortcuts. It also allows you to record your own macros, and play them back in a variety of ways. This has saved me countless hours when doing monkey work.
- SQL Yog – PHP and Mysql kinda go hand in hand, so I spend a decent amount of time writing mySQL queries. SQL Yog is an excellent desktop application to manage mySQL databases. Its like a desktop version of phpMyAdmin, which is very handy.
- Smart FTP – This is my favorite FTP software, for one killer feature: It allows you to lock the local directory to the remote directory, so when you open a folder on one side, it opens on the other side. This is very handy for keeping your local file structure the same as remote. It also supports live editing, server to server transfers, and everything else you would expect. Its only downside is its not free. However, it is reasonably priced at $37 – $50 for a single user.
- FileZilla – If you don’t feel the need to pay money for an FTP solution, then you probably want to be using FileZilla. FileZilla is a free client, and is a great implementation of all the standard features you’d expect.
- KeePass – Most web developers have many many passwords to remember. Also, most web developers are smart enough to realize good passwords contain special chars, and are generally hard to remember. These 2 facts make password managers very useful. Keepass is my favorite. It stores all passwords in a safe, encrypted file. Then you just have to remember one ‘master’ password to unlock the application, where you can double click an entry to automatically copy the password to your clipboard. It allows you to easily categorize your passwords, store notes, search, etc. Also, it is a standalone app which will run from a USB key, so you can take your passwords with you, but they are safe if the usb key is lost or stolen.
- Open Office – Robert mentioned cases when clients send you word documents, and you need something to open them. Google Docs is great, but is no replacement for a desktop app. However, I have found that Open Office fulfills all my needs. Admittedly, I use it very rarely. However, I have yet to run into an office file it couldn’t open, and yet to have a client complain that they couldn’t open a file I saved. There hasn’t been much talk about Open Office recently, as all the hype is moving to web apps. However this is one application that I feel still makes sense as a desktop app, and is a great example of quality open source software.