January ’15: Top Developer Tools and Services


Warning - Old content ahead!

This page has been marked as a legacy post. This means it's quite old (from 2015) and probably out of date. Take it with a grain of salt!

Now that I'm increasing the amount of blogs that I write I want to start giving credit to stuff that I use every day.

These aren't always going to be programming or web related. Many of them are to do with organisation and learning. I may even throw in some fun stuff, too!


First off the bat: Mailcatcher. A Ruby gem for testing emails on your local machine. It works by catching the emails sent through a local SMTP server and comes with a simple-but-awesome GUI for previewing your emails.

As a bonus it already comes installed with PuPHPet which I use to set up my PHP stacks.

If you don’t use PHP or PuPHPet it’s still a breeze to install. So if you’re a developer that makes applications with emails I really recommend you give it a shot.


Gollum is a wiki system built on top of Git. It’s incredibly minimalistic and requires you to know markdown but as a programmer it’s literally all I need.

I set up sections for all the languages and tools I learn. Subsections for areas that require a lot of notes and sometimes subsections just for specific versions of languages/frameworks.

Personally I find writing down what I learn really helps reinforce what I’ve learned. As a bonus, when I come to start using the tool with a project I now have documentation written in a way I can understand perfectly all on my local machine.


When I came to start using this I was looking for a tool to manage tasks at my job. I’ve used other solutions like Trello and Spiceworks but left feeling unsatisfied. I really enjoy Asana’s user interface and in combination with Toggl I have all my requirements met.


Toggl by itself is a pretty good timer app but quite frankly I would not bother with it if the Chrome Toggl extension, Toggl Button didn’t exist.

Toggl button injects Toggl timers in to various websites including Asana and Github.

The timer functionality is the only issue I have with Asana so this extension makes me incredibly happy. I just wish they would make extensions for other browsers so that everyone can appreciate it!

Balsamiq ($79)

Whenever I'm creating a new web application I create mock ups of how I want the interface to be structured. Balsamiq is my go to tool for this purpose.

A much younger version of myself would think it’s a complete waste of time. I’d much rather get stuck in to the code and get the app completed as soon as possible.

Present me knows better. The time it takes to make a few scribbles in Balsamiq is negligible and comes with three major added bonuses:

  1. It allows me to plan the flow of the application’s GUI
  2. It allows me to think about how I’m going to structure the code once I start it.
  3. It flags up potential speed bumps. More often than not I’ll think of an issue or two that would have never occurred to me until I had hit them. This let’s me plan my way around them and is a huge time saver.

That’s all for this month

I’ve gotta pace myself y’know? There are so many languages, tools and services that I use that it’s really unfair to highlight the above five but I’m doing it anyway!

I’ll post some more in February. I may even dig in to my favourite programming languages!

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