I use a fairly wide variety of software programs in my work, on both the Mac and PC platforms (primarily Mac, of course). Some programs stand head and shoulders above the others, because they provide so much value, and/or make my work (and my life) easier.
Adobe’s 800-lb. gorilla, Photoshop, is of course the mother of all graphics programs. Vector graphics, raster images, photos, scanning, touching up, resizing, cropping, retouching, batch processing. Every version of Photoshop is better than the last.
But everyone knows about Photoshop, whether they use it or not. What about all those little programs and utilities that not everyone knows about?
Transmit, from the good folks at Panic, is my FTP program of choice. I was a long-time Fetch user, and never thought I’d see any reason to move away from Fetch, but Transmit hooked me a couple of years ago, and it’s done nothing but improve since then. Transmit has almost reached the point where the only way it could get more convenient to use would be if I could merely think a file to the remote server.
When I’m working in my text editor of choice (TextMate), I hit cmd-S for save, then cmd-+ to upload the file. (That’s my own custom keyboard shortcut, by the way. I didn’t find Transmit’s default keyboard shortcut convenient, so I changed it.) Anyway, cmd-+ and off the file goes. TextMate hooks into Transmit via some technology that I don’t understand, and Transmit logs into the appropriate remote server, cd’s into the appropriate directory, and uploads the file. I don’t have to switch programs. I don’t have to drill down through the directory path. Likewise, I can drag a file from the Finder onto Transmit’s icon in my dock, or I can drag the titlebar icon from any open document onto the Transmit dock icon, and it gets sent off to the right place. Folks, FTP’ing can’t get any easier than this.
More on TextMate another time. I love this little program, too.
Lately I’ve been using OmniOutliner to keep track of things. I keep one OO file that serves as my master to-do list, subcategorized by Client and Project, with deadlines and completion dates noted, and notes and files attached where needed. Another OO file serves as my master changelog, where I make a quick note whenever I make any change to any site. Many is the time I’ve needed to know, exactly when did we launch that site? or, When did I install that new script? or, When did I make those changes the client requested? OO is helping me track all of that.
And don’t get me started on StickyBrain. I think the Chronos people have discontinued development, or are planning to, but as long as my current version of StickyBrain keeps working, I’ll keep on using it for my dozens (nay, hundreds) of random notes and bits of data. It’s Sticky Notes on steroids, is what it is. I must have more than 3 dozen categories of stickies: snippets of php code, samples of complex MySQL queries, unix commands that I have trouble remembering, notes about my dedicated server, bits of css and html, boilerplate paragraphs for letters, e-mails and contracts — it’s in there. It’s searchable (and better yet, findable). It backs itself up. It keeps track of all those little things that my RAM-starved brain can’t.
I have plenty of software designed to do things. The software that helps me organize and keep track of the things I do, and makes doing those things easier and faster, is what wins my heart in the software wars.