Kathy Sierra from Creating Passionate Users wrote an article about the tools people love vs. the best tools for the job, and the importance of passion when using a tool. We’ve played with a lot of different tools around here and while we’re definitely more passionate about some tools more than others, here’s a look at the gear that gets us through the day. - Navicat - Ryan wrote about Navicat before in The Different Faces of Mysql, and it continues to be the tool we use for MySQL database administration. Yes, there’s a price tag, but we haven’t found a free version that met our needs and comes in both PC and Mac flavors.

  • Textmate - Textmate is turning out to be everyone’s favorite text editor. It’s fast, looks good, and has tons of shortcuts to supercharge your coding lifestyle. We just couldn’t live without it.

  • Notepad ++ - For those times when we’re not on a Mac, Notepad++ does the job just fine. The product only gets better over time as they continue to add valuable features. It’s also free, so if you don’t want to fork over the dough for Textmate it’s a great alternative.

  • Subversion -Subversion is it great for keeping track of who created the code, who changed the code, and who broke the code. Storing multiple versions of our software has been a lifesaver when we make mistakes and it prevents us from stepping on one another’s toes. For our Subversion GUI, we use SvnX on OSX and TortiseSVN on the PC.

  • Awstats - We’re pretty big on stats, and AwStats is great for tracking daily visits, referrers, browser usage, and more. We use Mint for Particicletree, but since Wufoo is already database intensive, we went with something that reads the log files rather than put on additional hassle with a constantly growing database.

  • Gtalk - Currently, we don’t live in the same state anymore and so Gtalk keeps us on the same page everyday. Nothing fancy and that’s how we like it. FYI, we use iChat’s jabber properties as our Google Talk client of choice.

  • Gmail - Both personally and professionally, Gmail has been great for handling all of our email needs. While we do use separate desktop clients, Gmail’s online backup is loved by all.

  • Quickbooks - Accounting is terribly boring, but Quickbooks makes it somewhat bearable. The application is fairly easy to learn and we were able to sync it up with our bank account, and their online payroll service, which comes in handy on the 1st and 15th of each month. Quickbooks is a little pricey at around $200, but do you really want to cheap out on accounting?

  • iTunes - While sharing some office space, Kevin introduced me to the wonders of music while working. I don’t even like classical music, but it seems to help the brain get into that programming zone. I recommend you give this one a try if you’ve never listened to some tunes at work.

  • Pen & Paper - Maybe I’m old fashioned, but the pen and paper are still used on a daily basis for to-do lists, reminders, pseudo code, diagrams, and anything else that might come up. I know I’m not totally alone here since Kevin doodles his layout ideas on a notebook and we’ve brainstormed several times over a few pieces of 8x11.

  • Wufoo - I know it’s a bit self promotional, but we really do rely on Wufoo on a daily basis. The bug tracker is probably used the most since it easily tracks the countless problems Ryan creates and what he needs to fix next.

HTML Form Builder
Chris Campbell

Tools of the Trade by Chris Campbell

This entry was posted 4 years ago and was filed under Notebooks.
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  1. Sholom Sandalow · 4 years ago

    Another old school tool that I couldn’t get by without: Stickies. So low tech yet they are so versatile.

  2. Derek Organ · 4 years ago

    Interesting list, Navcat seem worth a look. What do you use for bug tracking and project collaboration?

    No so long ago i wrote a list of online apps we use every day.


    Windows tools i use:

    Dreamweaver Editplus Putty winscp webceo fireworks outlook

    mysql administration: phpmyadmin

  3. Jan BraÅ¡na · 4 years ago

    Instead of svnX try to have a look at http://scplugin.tigris.org/ - it should behave a bit like TortoiseSVN on W32.

  4. Chris Campbell · 4 years ago

    Hi Derek,

    For bug tracking, we use Wufoo.

    For collaboration we’ve used Basecamp/Backpack/Writeboard in the past. We’re not really using any collaboration tools right now, and communicate through gtalk.


    I’ll take a look at that since I like TourtiseSVN a little more than svnX.

  5. Douglas Clifton · 4 years ago

    Client-side (PC):

    TortiseSVN Gmail Firefox+Web Developer (and many other extensions) ICQ (I do not like Gtalk) SecureCRT (SSH)

    Server-side (Linux/BSD):

    Vim tcsh mysql (console) Perl

    If you’re getting the impression I’m a shell prompt junkie, you’re right. You also forgot to mention bugzilla.

  6. Dan Acuff · 4 years ago

    The WUFOO demo for creating a workshop registration form is great. https://examples.wufoo.com/forms/workshop-registration/

    The phone gif/jpg however breaks your https:// security.

    Don’t you need to add https:// to your image path?

  7. Chris Campbell · 4 years ago

    Thanks for the heads up, Dan.