The Tools I Use

If anyone’s curious, here’s a look at the development tools I use, day-to-day.

I use a Mac, so these are Mac-based, but many are also available for Windows.


Free all-in-one webserver package, instantly sets up Apache, MySQL and PHP. Great for developing locally without all the hassle of trying to build a server yourself.

Zend Studio (plugin for Eclipse)

Eclipse, in my opinion, is slow, bloated, and lacking in some basic features like soft text wrap. Why use it as my primary IDE, then? PHP debugging. Zend Studio (which used to be a nice stand-alone IDE, but is now just a plugin for Eclipse) has a set of tools for runtime PHP debugging which in my opinion are essential to PHP devlopment.


Although I work on big projects in Zend Studio, when I just want to try something out, I’ll often fire up TextMate. It’s small, quick, and pretty full-featured. Some people I work with prefer BBEdit, which I’ll admit has more features than TextMate, but TextMate feels cleaner and… I dunno, more *modern* to me.


For graphics and occasional mockups.


For working with MySQL, I love, love, love Navicat! If you are currently using PHPMyAdmin, ditch it and switch to Navicat. You won’t regret it. I’ve heard a couple people complain that Navicat’s icons look too “Windows-y” – good god people, get over it. They look fine, and it’s certainly a lot better-looking that PHPMyAdmin. If you’re not sure, Navicat Lite is free and does most of what the full version does, try it out!


Good for whipping up quick page wireframes and site flow diagrams for requirements documentation. Believe me, that doesn’t sound like much, but it’s important and the clients love the clean diagrams produced with it.


If I had my druthers, we’d probably be using SVN or something more industry-standard, but it’s what we use at work, and someone else maintains the server so I don’t have to, which is reason enough to use it. I have no desire to become a sysadmin. Like Eclipse, the StarTeam client is also Java-based, meaning it’s slow and bloated. Plus Borland dropped Mac support, so it takes some hacking to get it working on the Mac, though once it’s set up it works fine. There might be better packages out there, but StarTeam gets the job done, and that’s all I need out of a source control system.

Parallels with Windows XP
IE Collection

For IE testing. IE Collection is great, lets me run IE6, IE7 & IE8 side-by-side.


Although I test in multiple browsers, Firefox has great plugins available that make it my favorite browser for web development. I tried Webkit for a while, but the better plugins for Firefox brought me back.

Firefox plugins:

– Download Statusbar

Better display of download status than the standard window on Firefox.

– Firebug

A super-useful suite of web development tools. Essential!

– Screengrab

Take a screenshot of the entire page, regardless of scrollbars, automatically.

– Web Developer

A handy collection of tools for web development. Essential!

– Zend Studio Toolbar

Hooks into Zend Studio, allowing PHP debugging with the click of a button.

There are other apps I use now and then, but these are the primary ones that I use every day.


Started using jQuery yesterday, just starting to get into it, but so far I’m liking it. It’s a Javascript library that has a bunch of predefined functions and structures set up to make it quicker to write stuff. There’s also a UI component to make it easy to do stuff like dialog boxes and such.

Nice to be able to write something quickly and have it work in all browsers.

Here’s my first test, a simple box with a slide animation between 4 boxes of content when you click buttons.

For some reason it has a slight tearing happening during the animation in FireFox on Windows, but looks good on every other browser (even FireFox on Mac). It only does that for the 1/5 of a second during the transition animation, so I guess I can live with it.

I could do the same thing without the animation pretty easily with basic Javascript, but jQuery’s animation makes it look that much slicker. I’m also starting to do some drag and drop tests with jQuery UI which I may use in a project at work.

Don’t Forget!

TODAY is the release of FireFox 3, and they are trying to set a record for number of downloads!

So get it now!

Download Day

As of 10am, it’s not available yet… maybe they are starting at noon to better garner global downloads? I’ll probably check back then.

Ok, now it’s 1pm, and it appears to be available… though I can’t tell because I can’t get to the site. Let’s hope when they planned to break a record, they understood this meant everyone would be hitting the site at once…

Cnet news has a little article saying there is a delay while Mozilla tries to get the FireFox website back up, but that the 24 hours clock doesn’t start ticking until the site is actually UP.

Ok, now at 3pm it seems to be mostly up… if you hit refresh if it fails, eventually the page will come up. I just downloaded it.

Forget Safari, Get Lynx!

So Apple released Safari for Windows.

I think you’ll join me here in a collective yawn. The only thing this does is perhaps legitimize time testing web apps in Safari, since it’s now cross-platform.

But why not try something really different?
Get Lynx.

Lynx is a text-only browser from the dawn of time (ok, it was 1992, but neolithic time in terms of browsers).

Text-only browsing provides a refreshing change of pace from the bling-bling world of Flash-animated, image-laden websites. Nice, clean ASCII text is your only visual in the world of Lynx.

You can also get an idea of how clean the underlying design of a webpage is by viewing it in a text-only browser.

And if someone looks over your shoulder, it will probably just look like you are typing away in a shell, or viewing “man” pages (unix manuals).

So give it a try. You might like it.

Lynx for OS X
Lynx for Windows

This blog entry posted using Lynx.