December 27, 2018
Spilling Secrets: Our Favorite Tools
Despite the news we hear about hackers stealing data and sabotaging systems (and of course we all need that reminder about how critical security is), we don’t hear as much about good things that happen in the IT world. It’s not unheard of for developers to build browser add-ons or standalone apps in their free time - simply because they see a need and want to fill it. The Umbraco community is largely built on sharing, with developers eager to contribute to the open source CMS.
At Fyin.com, much of the work we do for our partners revolves around Umbraco. However, there are quite a few third-party apps and add-ons that our team members like to leverage. I thought it would be fun (and potentially helpful!) to list a few of our team’s favorites.
A tool that I’ve used for many years is IrfanView, developed by Irfan Škiljan. For those who don’t have a need for a full-blown instance of Photoshop, IrfanView fits the bill by offering quick image editing and converting. You can even create horizontal and vertical panoramas from multiple images. I started using it when my daughter was a baby. I took thousands of photos, edited as needed, and sent them to friends, relatives, and anyone who expressed even the slightest interest in seeing them.
My graphic design skills are, well, not very advanced. However, I’ve been able to whip together the occasional graphic using Canva. It’s very easy to use and has lots of great features (such a horizontal and vertical alignment of elements within a design). I leave the “real” design work to actual designers, but I’ve been able to create the occasional flyer or social media graphic using Canva.
My co-worker, Scott, told me about a great Chrome extension called CSS Peeper. Many times over the years, clients have asked me questions about their websites, such as what fonts and heading styles were used. I wish I’d known about CSS Peeper years ago! Now I can easily view a page, or an element on a page, and quickly see the styles that are in place. Game changer!
A few other contributions to the list:
Cassio, one of our senior developers, is a fan of Perfect Pixel for Chrome. This tool allows developers to build web pages that align perfectly with the designer’s vision.
Eric, our resident UI/UX expert, has a few tools that he uses “all day, every day.” One is Snipaste, which makes it super easy to grab/manipulate screenshots and also serves as a color picker. Another is Get Ditto Clipboard. Normally, when you save an item to your virtual clipboard, it overwrites the last item that was added. With Get Ditto Clipboard, you can save all items and access them later.
David, our managing director, is an enthusiastic user of Evernote, a powerful organizer that helps you prioritize notes, ideas and well, just about anything. Another favorite is Notepad++ for source code editing.
Jay, another senior developer, has a full arsenal of favorites, including:
- Snagit (handy for taking screenshots of scrolling web pages)
- Instant Eyedropper (an easy way to determine the color value for any element- big time saver!)
- Mouse without Borders (control multiple PCs with one mouse)
- Araxis Merge (file comparison and merging)
- ReSharper (a Visual Studio extension that aids in automation)
- Postman (very helpful in API development)
- Fiddler (a free debugger)
The Fyin.com team makes heavy use of Skype for communication (both internally and with our partners), and of course our developers are well-versed in Visual Studio.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when so many great tools already exist. If you download an app or add-on, just be sure to check the usage rights. Some are not intended for business use. Some developers may also ask for a modest fee in exchange for download rights. Hey, if you can get a great tool for the price of a latte, what’s not to like?
What are some of your favorite tools?