One of my favourite things about the Mac platform is the quality of the third party applications and plug-ins that are available. For web developers there are some fantastic tools out there. I quite often get asked about these so I thought I write a quite blog entry listing the invaluable tools that we here at Skigo use every day… in no particular order!
Pixelmator is the only worthy alternative to the very expensive Adobe Photoshop. It’s not as fully featured as Photoshop, but it doesn’t need to be. It has all the tools you’d need as a web developer like ‘save images for web’ and ’slices’.
I’ve been using this for the last 6 months and have not had reason to open Photoshop in that time. It feels faster than photoshop, it looks fantastic and it has some really nice features. One of my favourite features is the Photo Browser which lets you browse and import photos from your iPhoto collection. Making the jump from Photoshop to Pixelmator is really easy. Most tool palettes and menus are arranged almost identically and it opens PSD files accurately too.
All in all, this is a really great app which will make you question Photoshop’s hefty price tag.
Coda (and Espresso)
Coda is written by those wonderful people at Panic. We hand code all of our websites and using a bloated tool like Dreamweaver just doesn’t work. Coda is super fast, looks great and includes a file manager that supports FTP, SFTP, FTP+SSL, and WebDAV.
It has a really nice built in CSS editor, it also allows you to preview your page within the window powered by Apple’s WebKit.
Another similar app is Espresso by Macrabbit. I spent a long time jumping between the two deciding which is better for me, but there really is nothing between them. Each have slightly different ways of doing things, and I settled on using Coda. They’re both really great apps though.
Forklift is a powerful file manager for FTP, SFTP, Amazon S3 andWEBDav. I used Transmit for a long time, and still think that it’s a brilliant application, but it was one feature on Forklift that converted me.
Sync Browsing. Given two identical folder structures browse your files and folders in one pane and let ForkLift do the job for you in the other pane.
I love this feature and until you use it, you don’t realise how much it speeds up your workflow. Other useful features includes batch renaming of files, folder sync, FXP Copy (copying directly from one web server to another) and Synclets (Save your folder synchronization settings in a Synclet – place it in your dock or on your desktop and click any time to start syncing.)
My only gripe is the support offered by the developer. With a previous version I had a particularly annoying bug, and the level of response I received was poor and the issue never resolved. Thankfully that bug hasn’t cropped up in version 2 of this great piece of software.
Sequel Pro is a MySQL database management application. Sequel Pro started off life as the CocoaMySQL project by Lorenz Textor. This is a free open-source application, although they accept (and are worthy of) donations.
You can connect directly to both local and remote servers, it supports almost 30 different encoding options and it works with MySQL 3, 4 & 5. For me, the best thing about Sequel Pro is the import/export options. Making database backups really fast, and data uploads simple.
xScope is a quirky little application, but for me it’s invaluable. It provides a set of tools for measuring, aligning and inspecting on screen elements. All of the tools are accessible from the menu bar and they float above all of the windows so you can interact with any item on your screen.
This is one of those applications that you don’t think you need, and it doesn’t sound that impressive. However, once you give it a go you’ll soon see how quickly you rely on it. I use the Loupe (colour inspector) all the time. It magnifies the area and displays all of the colour information, then (and I love this bit!) ‘shift + cmd + C’ copies the hex value of the colour to your clipboard ready to paste straight into your stylesheets!
MAMP: Install, run and manage Apache, MySQL and PHP with one click from this neat litte App.
TextExpander: A typing shortcut utility that lets you insert predefined snippets of text by typing your custom shortcut.
So that’s what keeps the wheels turning here at Skigo. I’d love to hear any of your comments or suggestions for some more mac apps!