This is my first installment of my must have list of tools, apps and utilities as a OS X, iOS and web developer. Each app has a distinct purpose, and I probably touch each at least a few times a week. Many are free some aren’t, those that aren’t free are very likely worth your 30-day trial, and perhaps your money.
Without further ado, the following are the tools, apps and hardware I use:
My hardware is simple yet elegant and a workhorse.
- 13-inch, Late 2009 MacBook
- 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor
- 8 GB 1067 MHz DDR3 Memory
- NVIDIA GeForce 9400M 256 MB Graphics Chip
- 500 GB Hard Drive
Peripherals & Accessories:
In terms of accessories and upgrades I use.
- Time Machine backups are handled by a 3TB LaCie/Porsche Design Desktop Drive, connected via USB 2.0. It’s fairly quiet is one of the few external drives I’ve found that doesn’t have a horrific design.
- I connect to the Internet through Time Warner Cable 200/20 Mbps speed using an ARRIS Touchstone Data Gateway DG1670 modem. And I connect wirelessly through both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels!
- Loud electronic music is blasted through the amazing Harman Kardon SoundSticks speaker system.
I am really hard on software. This is for a variety of reasons, but I think it is because I build it myself. I have always envisioned that directors and actors can sometimes lose focus during a movie as they judge the decisions others made in their productions. I feel like I do the same thing with software.
I loathe poor and/or non-native user interfaces and cherish simple tools. These are the applications I constantly rely on.
The Essential Power User 5
- Brackets – I use Brackets for everything from editing scripts to writing and editing code. It is an indispensable tool that can be adapted for so many use cases.
- Dropbox – Dropbox is the secret sauce for a variety of reasons. It makes it easy to share files between machines as well as with colleagues.
- Alfred – Great productivity app to find everything on OS X.
- Chrome – Safari in Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks was a step back in terms of performance and resource consumption. I suppose it’s to be expected given it has the new process architecture under the hood, but it was so frustrating that I switched to Chrome. I may never switch back. I love this browser!
- 1Password – One of the first tools I install. Its Dropbox over-the-air syncing makes using it on my iPhone and iPad even easier. It also has made me use better passwords because I no longer have to remember them. 1Password does that for me.
- Xcode – If you write OS X or iOS applications, you spend most of your life in Xcode and Instruments. I am no different.
- Alcatraz – Alcatraz is an open-source package manager for Xcode. It lets you discover and install plugins, templates and color schemes without the need for manually cloning or copying files.
- Slender – If you’re using Xcode I bet you have a few assets in your Xcode project that are no longer in use. Those kilobytes are wasting your customers’ bandwidth and yours. Slender analyzes your Xcode project and finds those assets that are no longer in use so you can safely delete them.
- Transmit – Best FTP client out there from Panic Software, enough said.
- MAMP – MAMP is an easy and elegant webserver to test websites locally on your Mac.
- Sequel Pro – Sequel Pro is a fast, easy-to-use Mac database management application for working with MySQL databases.
- CodeKit – CodeKit helps you build websites faster and better.
- Dash – I have found Dash to be a must-have utility, especially if you are targeting platforms beyond just OS X and iOS. Dash imports and formats documentation for OS X, iOS, Android, web frameworks, and more. It’s amazing.
- iTerm2 – An amazing terminal emulator that does incredible things.
- Homebrew – Homebrew installs the stuff you need that Apple didn’t.
- oh-my-zsh – A community-driven framework for managing your zsh configuration. Includes 120+ optional plugins (rails, git, OSX, hub, capistrano, brew, ant, macports, etc), over 120 themes to spice up your morning, and an auto-update tool so that makes it easy to keep up with the latest updates from the community.
- Base – Is an application for creating, designing, editing and browsing SQLite 3 database files. It’s lightweight and easy to use.
- cubeSQL – Is a fully featured and high performance relational database management system built on top of the sqlite database engine.
- Charles – Sometimes I want to snoop the traffic that is going through an iOS app. Setting up Charles makes it pretty easy to do just that.
- Cornerstone – For those few times a year I need to work with Subversion, Cornerstone is the best desktop client I’ve found for it.
- Deploymate – If you’re still supporting iOS 5, iOS 6 and iOS 7, you want to make sure that you’re not calling APIs not supported on those platforms before shipping to the App Store. Crashes are bad. Deploymate does just that. It saved my bacon once already which made it worth every penny I paid for it.
- FogBugz – I have been using FogBugz for almost five years. People complain that it is an unattractive app. I disagree. It’s not flashy and instead just disappears so that I can actually focus on using it for its intended purpose: managing my software projects.
- Bee – Simple. Fast. Native. Issue tracking made fun on your mac, works great with FogBugz.
- Appium – An open source test automation framework for use with native, hybrid and mobile web apps. It drives iOS and Android apps using the WebDriver protocol.
- Firefox Developer Edition – The only browser made just for developers, Firefox Developer Edition was created with your workflow in mind. Build, test, scale and more all from one place, for the first time ever.
- iConvert Icons – Carefully designed to make it as easy as possible to create and convert icons. It converts icons in all of the popular icon formats, including png, ico, and icns.
- Paw – Is a full-featured and beautifully designed Mac app that makes interaction with REST services delightful.
- Postgres.app – Is the easiest way to get started with PostgreSQL on the Mac. Open the app, and you have a PostgreSQL server ready.
- Spark Inspector – With a three-dimensional view of your app’s interface and the ability to change view properties at runtime, Spark can help you craft the best apps on earth.
- Tower – Version control with git made easy, in a beautiful, efficient, and powerful app.
- Sauce Labs – Cross browser testing made awesome. Selenium testing, mobile testing, JS unit testing on over 400 OS/browser platforms.
- GitHub – Working with Git is a little more tolerable thanks to github. I have tried quite a few GUIs for Git and this is the one that sticks with me most.
- ImageOptim – When you add up the kilobytes of non-retina and retina assets for both the iPhone and iPad, app binaries are getting bigger. ImageOptim has a better compression algorithm than the one built into Xcode, so I will sometimes run images through it to get smaller sizes.
- Dev Color Picker – Must have. Choose whatever color you want and then it will output a UIColor or NSColor for you.
- Xamarin Studio – For those few times you need to code C# apps, build them better with Xamarin Studio.
- Android Studio – Is the official IDE for Android application development, based on IntelliJ IDEA.
- Adobe Creative Cloud – With new, connected Creative Cloud apps and services, you have all the tools and assets you need to create amazing work across desktop and mobile devices.
- Sketch 3 – Gives you the power, flexibility and speed you always wanted in a lightweight and easy-to-use package. Finally you can focus on what you do best: Design.
- CSS Hat 2 – Is Photoshop plugin which instantly turns layer styles to CSS3!
- iOS Hat – Can turn Photoshop layers into Objective-C or Swift.
- PNG Hat – Is a Photoshop plug-in that slices and exports your PSD document to individual PNG or JPG assets.
- PSD Cleaner – Photoshop Plugin that lets you easily find and fix messy layers in your PSDs.
- Avocode – All you need to seamlessly move from design to code. Share, preview, sync, measure, export and implement.
- Social Kit – Smart Photoshop extension with Up-to-Date social templates.
- LiveShare PS – Whether you’re presenting high fidelity designs or just talking through some rough concepts, LiveShare PS offers powerful one-click collaboration.
- Hexy – Photoshop Plugin allows designers and developers to easily copy past color HEX values straight out of Photoshop into your clipboard.
- Layrs Control 2 – Plugin that houses a collection of scripts to make the more mundane tasks in Photoshop.
- Origami – Toolkit for Quartz Composer – created by the Facebook Design team—that makes interactive design prototyping easy.
- Antetype – The first design and layout software focused on visual design, built by UI designers for UI designers.
- xScope – I use xScope to detect colors on various UI elements, check alignment of controls and to measure the distance between objects. If you are meticulous about your UI, it’s a great utility.
- Axure RP 7 – Gives you the wireframing, prototyping and documentation tools needed to make informed design choices, persuade any skeptics, and document your design… and maybe win a few fans along the way.
- Gradient – A simple and useful app for OS X to help web designers speed up the creation of CSS gradients.
- Sip – The refreshingly simple color picker that instantly samples and encodes any color on your screen. Just one quick click to savor the flavor and you’re set!
- Screenhero – Screen sharing for collaboration in teams.
- Spotify – To keep me in the zone during my coding sessions Spotify helps me relax while listening to great music.
- Boom 2 – OS X volume booster with advance equalizer controls and audio effects.
- Caffeine – Is a tiny program that puts an icon in the right side of your menu bar. Click it to prevent your Mac from automatically going to sleep.
- Backblaze – While I primarily rely on Time Machine for my backups, I also subscribe to Backblaze to offload the contents of my hard drive to the Internet.
- Skype – The go to app to make free or cheap calls to team members or clients.
- CleanMyMac – Keep your Mac healthy with this incredible app, I use it regularly and love it.
- Disk Diag – Quickly discover and clean up your unneeded files to free up tons of disk space with only a few simple clicks.
- GIFBrewery – You like GIFs. I like GIFs. Let’s make GIFs.
- Wunderlist – I don’t know how I ever stayed on top of tasks before Wunderlist on my two screens. It’s my preferred task management system.
- Bartender – Lets you organize your menu bar apps, by hiding them, rearranging them or moving them to Bartender’s Bar.
- Battery Diag & Memory Diag – Battery Diag can overview your battery information in a beautiful way. Easily access the most important health and status information and the details of your battery from your menu bar./ Memory Diag is a beautiful memory optimizer designed for the new memory concepts of OS X. Monitor and optimize and diagnose your memory usage with a simple click.
- Fantastical – Works with your favorite Mac calendar application: Calendar (Mavericks and Mountain Lion), iCal (Lion and Snow Leopard), BusyCal (cloud calendars only), Entourage, or Outlook.
- f.lux – Makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.
- The Unarchiver – A file extraction utility is somewhat of an unsung hero, but when you need it, it’s good to have a utility that is robust and can fit almost any bill. The Unarchiver does that and does it well.
- iStat Menus 5 – Is an advanced Mac system monitor for your menubar.
- Parallels Desktop 10 – The easiest and most powerful solution for running Windows on Mac without rebooting.
- TeamViewer – Remote control any computer or Mac over the internet within seconds or use TeamViewer for online meetings.
- Android File Transfer – Browse and transfer files between your Mac computer and your Android device.