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One question I’m asked a lot as a site builder is “what software do you use?” Many people expect to hear Dreamweaver as the answer — and rightly popular software it is. However, I’m a little more hands-on with my code than some developers, and so I favor less interruptive tools to help me get my work done.

For code, I use a combination of Coda and Textmate. Coda is great for the day-to-day process of writing code: Its integrated FTP software makes publishing changes a matter of a few seconds of work. When complex find-and-replace situations present themselves, Textmate is second to none. Both Coda and Textmate are excellent at column editing (that is, adding letters to each line of text in the same position) and dealing with multiple files.

Textmate is also great for writing copy using Markdown, a formatting syntax created by John Gruber. Along with an add-on bundle created by (friend of the show) Brett Terpstra, writing Markdown and copying out HTML makes complex lists and header arrangements a breeze to format.

Honest Code recently started using Jumpchart for collaborative copy editing and wireframing. Jumpchart also uses a version of Markdown for copy editing, but features direct export to WordPress (the content management system of choice for many clients).

Although FTP is built into Coda, I also use Transmit for complex FTP operations (synchronization, for example). Transmit 4 was released just last week, and it’s an awesome update to the already-indispensable file transfer client.

For images and layouts, I use Adobe Photoshop. It’s a tried and true image editor, and has become much better with CS3 and CS4 for building web layouts. I loved Macromedia Fireworks, but its interface could be fussy, and I just fell out of the habit of using it. For illustrations and logos, Photoshop’s companion product Illustrator is my favorite.

Honest Code uses Basecamp for project management, and its file sharing, calendaring, progress monitoring, and messaging features make collaborative planning very easy. I have clients who were new to Basecamp, but soon preferred using it to email after only a day or two. Having organized access to everyone’s input is an extremely valuable tool.

Up until recently, I used Adobe Acrobat Connect to facilitate screen-sharing meetings, but they’re shutting the service down in June. Instead, I plan on using GoToMeeting, as that’s been recommended by several friends. We’ll see how well it works in the coming months. (Yay, something to write about in the future!)

Of course, there seem to be a hundred other tools that I use every day that deserve to be written up by themselves:

But here’s the thing: It’s not the tools that make the craftsman, it’s how they’re used. Having a copy of the software used to launch the Apollo astronauts isn’t going to get you to the moon.

Posted May 3, 2010. Tagged: , ,


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