Since it may not yet be extremely clear what I do all day ’ sometimes even I wonder ’ this will at least clarify what software I use. As for hardware, I’ve got an old Intel Core Duo MacBook, an external monitor and a Wacom Graphire4 tablet.
The following is what I recommend when it comes to software for Mac.
- Adobe Creative Suite - $999 - link
Seriously, who could live without it? I mostly use is Photoshop for slicing and Fireworks for prototyping and wireframing. If, or when, I will get my hands dirty with graphic design, the obvious choice would be Illustrator.
Dreamweaver, however, is something I haven’t touched in years. Here's why.
- TextMate - $55 - link
For me, this is perhaps the most invaluable development tool. It's not an IDE ’ there’s no debugger, no eye-candy, no heavy features ’ and that’s what I love about it. When it comes to editing code, there’s no substitute. With it’s convenient shortcuts, advanced text editing features and complete bundles for most languages, it’s the fastest and most comfortable code editor I’ve ever used.
If you try it out, I suggest checking out the Bundles menu and get used to some useful keyboard shortcuts. Personally, I love the auto-quotation, auto-indentation, soft tabs , Command+/ (comment and uncomment), Command+[ (indent) and the F5 shortcut (for sorting CSS properties) but I also know a lot of people like the Alt+Esc auto-completion.
- Versions - $53 - link
When the code is written an tested it needs to be committed to the repo and this app has the slickest and simplest interface I’ve seen on a SVN client. What more can I say, it just works. Of course, command line knowledge is highly recommended too but Versions is lightweight, simple and has pretty much everything you need.
As with all other software, I recommend removing unnecessary buttons from the toolbar to get an even leaner interface.
- WMware Fusion - $80 - link
Unfortunately, testing website compatibility with IE is something we have to deal with. Booting Windows in BootCamp takes too much time and energy, which is why I use a virtual machine with Windows XP. I used to do it in Parallels but VMware’s Fusion for some reason feels better.
I recommend suspending the virtual machine instead of turning it off. It could save some time, especially for you lucky bastards with new Mac/MacBook Pro’s. Once up and running, I use Multiple IE to get access to most versions of Internet Explorer. Multiple IE is, however, not perfectly reliable and once I get a new computer I’ll run another virtual machine with the ???????real??????? IE6.
- MAMP - Free - link
If we’re doing server-side scripting, setting up a CMS or similar, we’ll of course need server software. Setting up Apache and MySQL manually may be a fun adventure on a Mac and I recommend people to do it at some point but if we just want to get on with our work, this bundle is a gift. Like most of you already know, it installs a decent setup of Apache, MySQL and PHP on your Mac.
Of course, there’s a lot of purists out there that wants to have full control over their local server and I get that. If one has spare time and prioritizes this stuff, I’m all for it. It can be a nice learning experience and once you have it all beautifully set up exactly like you want it, maybe you can find a way to standardize it and back it all up for future needs.
But for now, I prefer just smacking this baby into the Applications folder knowing I’ll have everything I need, including PhpMyAdmin, and focus on backing up my ???????htdocs??????? folder and the databases I care for. We’re never going to use it as a production server so there’s most likely no harm in using this time-saving option unless you have special needs.
That’s my five choices. I find these to be efficient for me but in the end, a lot is about personal preference and what you need. If you need a debugger, Zend Studio (recommended, ~$550) may be your choice of editor. If you’re a command line guru that types 300 words per minute, you may find command line svn to be more effective. Also, as we grow and our industry changes, so will our choice of tools.
Bottom line; try out as many alternatives as you can and always keep an open mind.