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My Top 3 Favorite Tools

Sep 23, 2009 In Development By Hans Hugli

Why do we use the tools we use? Most often, our choices are not simply based on how slick & perfect the tool in question is. Rather, we tend to choose tools based on how well they 1,,) enhance our productivity and 2) fit the specific technologies and projects we work with. Our concerns are practical. We want the right tool for the right job.

Track It.

Recently, a colleague showed me a tool (ManicTime) that lets you calculate your application and tool usage in a visual, analytic way. I used it to create a progress report that shows how I spend my time. Turns out that my top three applications are: 1) Visual Studio, 2) an email client, and 3) the browsers—in that order. I email more in the mornings use the browsers and VS toward the evenings.

Use ManicTime to track your usage patterns. What do you find? Which tools are you using most often, and when?

Tools That Fit.

Based on my test results, it looks like my top 3, favorite tools are:

* Visual Studio

* Outlook 2007

* Live Mesh (a service that allows you to manage and synch your files across a set of machines)

Why? These tools help me get stuff done. I am a dev, so I need my tools optimized for that. Outlook 2007 and Live Mesh allow me to get things done, without a fuss. They help me do my job better.

And as for Visual Studio: I work primarily with .NET for the majority of my career, and I need a tool—Visual Studio—that suits this platform. It’s been indispensable (though virtually useless with Gestalt, which allows us to write Silverlight apps that do not need to be compiled by an IDE). Still, VS has become one of my most invaluable tools over the years.

What About You?

What are your top 3 favorite tools? Are they slick? Old-skool? I’d be interested whether you are a developer or a designer, or whatever your walk of life. Does your preferred tool provide productivity enhancements that make it indispensible? How are your tools suited to your job?

Do you have any tools that you can recommend to develop/design web content? Let us know by leaving a comment. And if you tweet, follow us on Twitter to learn about new content, opinions and articles.

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4 comments so far. You should leave one, too.

Geof Harries said on Sep 24, 2009

I''m a designer. While I haven''t tried Manic Time, I have used Rescue Time in years past. By far, the tool I use most is Adobe Fireworks. Application interfaces, website interfaces, image editing, you name it: Fireworks - I currently use CS4 - plays a major role in my work because it is efficient and focused. Next up is Outlook 2007 for email and scheduling appointments + meetings, which I have way too many of, as do most people! Finally, Visio. Honestly, I don''t like Visio all that much - especially compared to Omnigraffle - and am trying to replace it with Sketchflow for more interactive application prototyping, but it''s quick and easy way to produce illustrated wireframes for discussion with peers and clients.

Dan Harrelson said on Sep 28, 2009

I''m using Rescue Time on the Mac and my top apps for the last month are XCode, Coda and

Allan said on Oct 29, 2009

Manic Time is like rescue time it or could even be better because it records all the sites you have opened, how much time you spent in it. Calculated your working progress, its best for telecommute workers or home based employees.

ProjectX said on Dec 21, 2011

My 3 favorite tools are puTTy(for ssh connection), Backtrack OS (A Linux pentesting distro) and Dev ++. (For my programming needs).