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James Riley

Ruby, Javascript and Friends. Part of the Snapppt team. Living a life of learning. Join me.

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One of my favourite aspects to meeting fellow developers is having a rummage through their toolbox - discovering the tools they use, the workflow they follow - unearthing the nuggets of efficiency that would otherwise not come up in conversation. So here I kick off 2016 with a run through of the 5 tools that I have used daily for the past year and recommend to everyone I come across. Along with putting a dollop of butter in your coffee. Try it. So, in no particular order we have…


Will be of no surprise to many web developers. Arriving on the scene at a time when Skype was ruler, and pulling the rug out from under it’s feet in a splash of colour and taste. It’s a perfect example of doing something better than others currently do it. A team chat application, by no means an original idea, but Slack nails it’s execution - providing plenty of power, beautifully nestled in a pleasant interface. At SupaDupa, it’s completely replaced email communication, and thanks to the Channels feature, allows for a flurry of daily conversation on various topics, with very little getting lost or overlooked.


If there’s any software out there which should be part of the core offering of an OS, Divvy is it. Divvy is a window manager. That’s all. It allows you to easily position windows, via a grid, to get your setup as desired. In an age of growing screens, being able to easily flick windows between screens, and to various position presets with custom keyboard shortcuts, is essential. I’m taken aback whenever I see others try and function without it. Windows has made progress in received years in this area, Mac seems to have ignored it, and Divvy is not the only option out there - but boy does it do it well. It’s the first piece of software I install.


Another popular app, and for good reason. The transition from simply saving documents within folders within Finder, to having a dedicated software for storing notes within notebooks can seem a little pointless - but the ease of navigation, ability to search, link notes, easily embed media, format notes, have shortcuts and ‘recent notes’ listed - make Evernote convenient and accessible to the point where it functions as my second mind. You don’t need to be a developer long to realise just how unique any particular programming journey is - and the huge array of approaches and technologies amount to an experience that is as unique as a fingerprint. Thus being able to record solutions to errors you’ve come across, causes of bugs you’ve squashed, commands you don’t want to forget is gold - and even a the altruistic blogosphere won’t pin-point answers or resemble your setup or past experience like your own notes. Another recent realisation is that any bookmark I save in my browser, will never get read. I may as well add it to a firewall of blocked links. But, what has proven helpful - is noting the key takeaways from articles within topic-related notes within Evernote, with a link to the article is particularly lengthy. Suddenly you begin to amount of a wealthy knowledge-base - crucially from your perspective.


Monosnap is a tool for taken screenshots and videos, and easily uploading them, ready to be shared with a link. Whether it’s responding to a SupaDupa customer with an annotated screenshot, having a colleague raise a bug in a similar fashion, providing an update on a project via a video-teaser, or for recording screenshots scrapbook style in Evernote - it’s uses as understandably wide. Hooked up to a keyboard shortcut, and with uploads automatically having its link copied to the clipboard makes uploading photos a doddle - with it being accessible enough to make it a tool I find myself reaching for all the time.


Where Slack is for group communication, perfectly suited to teams who collaborate across a range of channels (marketing, design, technical etc), I find Telegram to be the perfect tool for one-on-one or simple group chats. It’s a faster, more secure, simple alternative to Whatsapp - with the key selling point for me at the time was that it has an (open source!) app for the Mac - making it super convenient to respond while at the computer. At the same time, giving myself less of an excuse when I take an age to respond.