We all know that having a specific workflow for getting things done will allow us to pursue more work, get more work done, and ultimately boost our freelance career. A faster turnaround without actually sacrificing the quality of your work is something most of us strive to achieve as we work, even if we don’t know we do it!
We all have different set ups for the work we do as freelancers, so I have written this article in order to establish a general guideline as to how MY development workflow model exists today. I would also love to hear about your own set ups!
The software you use to code all of your development projects is generally where you will spend most of your time, So having an editor that you are comfortable in is essential to getting things done. I have dabbled in many editors and IDE’s including the loathed Dreamweaver up until recently, when i switched to Notepad++
Notepad++ is probably the absolute best code editor for Windows. It closely compares to Coda for OSX, except it isn’t nearly as pretty! The features it provides offer such great versatility, with it’s plugin architecture, you can have it set up exactly how you want it. My Notepad++ is set up with various plugins. The NppFTP plugin allows me to edit files online and sync automatically. This saves a massive amount of time and completely negates the use of another ftp program, such as FileZilla, which can be annoying at best! I also use the Explorer plugin to browser files/folders. The plugin is not enabled by default, although it should be.
My server software package of choice is Wamp. Wamp has been around for quite some time, it is extensible, easy to configure, and it hosts the perfect PHP + MySQL setup for all my local development needs. Without it, i would have to test online, which would be silly!
I always keep the latest version of all current modern browsers on my system. These include Firefox, Safari, Opera, Chrome, and IE. Internet Explorer is the odd one out and to combat the fact that you need to test you apps and sites on all older versions of it, i use IE Tester. This sweet little piece of software, comes bundled with a sandbox version of the IE engines from 6 to 8
Where would i be without trusty Photoshop? My development career was started with this great application! Before i had anything to code, i had to create the designs of websites. And if i never created the designs, then i probably would have never started working in the development industry. Photoshop even to this day allows me to create and edit photo’s and images for almost all of my projects. Nothing compares.
Sometimes you need to work with video as a Web Developer. Whether it be screencasts, editing footage or webcam video, AVS4You is my editor of choice. The price it costs is very little in comparison to what it can do. It comes bundled with a screen recorder, webcam recorder and video editor. The programs are intuitive and easy to use. I don’t think i ever needed to read any of their documentation. Highly recommended.
The two giants in version control – Git and GitHub – work harmoniously together. It takes a lot of work to get started using Git but the power it offers in the long run is worth it. Being able to roll back your project when you break it is essential as a developer, and keeping a repository of all of your work is also very helpful.
To seperate my work from play i split my desktops up. VirtuaWin is a free program that enables you to have multiple desktops, just like in some of the popular linux distributions. This way, i can have all my programming applications open in one workspace, my resources in another, and email, communication, and social networking in another.
There are a massive amount of resources online. Google is what we all use of course, but there are other popular sites that we tend to keep coming back to time and time again. For me some of the sites i use are Codesnipp.it – to find specific templates and snippets of code that i always use in my projects. WP Codex for reference to WordPress code, i use this almost every day. Flickr for finding great photos for use in my projects (with attribution of course).
As much as socializing is not part of my “development”, it is still a big part of my freelance career. Lately i moved on to using Tweetdeck. Apparently Twitter has just bought this for $40 million dollars, despite the fact that they have mentioned they do not want people using their API to create software that does what Twitter already does. Tweetdeck is great, and the bonus feature is that it integrates lightly with Facebook, so i can see both feeds in one timeline, for optimally catching up!
The programs you use to work on development projects for your clients, can generally define how well you do with those projects. The set up i use is quite wide spread and many of you probably already use most of what i have mentioned. Is there anything missing from this list that you consider essential to your development setup?
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