I broke this post into two because I hadn’t realised just how many tools I use, and really didn’t want to bore you with at TL;DR entry… so hopefully you’ve read the last one and are now catching up with this one… Here are some more mac web development tools, and these ones focus on remote management of servers and cloud based data.
Yesterday’s post was all about tools I use locally on my Mac to edit, tidy, and write code locally on my machine before I transfer content off to the server. The items in today’s list are much more closely related to stuff that’s happening on the server or in the cloud, than it does on my local machine (though there’ll be some cross over to local use, for sure – as they are, for the most part, all installed on my desktop/laptop).
First off, if you’re navigating between a remote server and a local machine you’ll need some kind of file transfer program… To be honest, most days now, I use the aforementioned Coda for FTP pretty much exclusively. However, for dedicated FTP/SFTP etc. in the past, I have used Cyberduck and Filezilla(both free), and found them both perfectly suitable. I also have Forklift (premium) which can be used for FTP but is actually a really great tool for file management (bonus tool!).
Remote Server Management and Secure Shell Access
I know, Terminal is free an installed on every Mac out there… but I came across iTerm 2 a while ago and got in the habit of using that for SSH and other terminal processes… these days there’s probably not that much that’s different between the two, though I haven’t dug too deep on iTerm’s features… maybe I could save space and just go back to Terminal… what do you think? Are you using either? What’s your preference and why?
Amazon S3 Management
I am not sure how many of you are using Amazon S3 for remote data storage. I send of a lot of my Backup Buddy backups there and the cost of it to date has been just pennies a month. For that reason alone I love it, but the web based browser interface isn’t always easy to navigate, so I’m using this desktop client called 3hub to interact with my S3 Buckets.
Database Management (specifically mySQL)
If you’re running WordPress and you’ve done any tweaking in your database you’re probably familiar with the web based application phpMyAdmin. It’s pretty much installed universally on servers to help people manage their database. You can of course do all you do on phpMyAdmin using Unix commands in Terminal (or iTerm 2) but if you want a graphical interface without having to use a web based one there’s a free tool out there called Sequel Pro which will allow you do connect to your DB (either local, like on MAMP/XAMPP/WAMP) or remotely and manage it from your desktop.
Cross Browser Testing
I was lucky enough to become part of a collective of devs/designers who joined forces to get a pro license for Browserstack. By having the group buy a 5 seat license together we saved a fair bit of money and the tool itself is brilliant. That said it a can be a bit challenging to identify issues with your code there, particularly in the Firebug light installed on the IE browsers on Browserstack, so it does help to have a local version of IE running as well.. for that I have a virtual machine called Virtual Box (free) and I’m running a version of Windows 7 and have Internet Explorer installed on that. Actually, in case you haven’t come across it yet and you’re interested in running Windows on your Mac virtually install Virtual Box head over to Modern IE and grab hold of virtual machines created for devs(by the way, the vms expire and require licences after 90 days, I usually just trash them and build another after that… but you could save yourself the hassle and license the Windows software if you wanted to). Modern IE are also giving 3 months of Browserstack away… so it’s worth having a play with that too…
In addition to Amazon S3 where I store larger files, pretty much my whole whole document folder lives in DropBox. Yep, I’m paying for it (the free 2gb isn’t nearly enough), and while I’m still backing up my content all over the place, on an external hard drive, on BackBlaze I’m confident I’m not going to lose any critical data any time soon, but I’m also using DropBox to sync things like 1Password, and my iPhone photos, my keychains (so passwords match across machines). I’ve also got a couple of client’s sites syncing to my dropbox as their external back up using WordPress Backup to Dropbox plugin. There are a bunch of cool ways people are using Dropbox, so google around to see what other people are doing, guarantee you can make it work harder than you are doing so currently…
I’ve jumped onto the git bandwagon with all the cool kids, and to be frank, while I don’t always understand what’s going on, I do have enough of it ingrained in my workflow that I now feel like less of an idiot when the topic turns to git. It really helps get up to speed if you can spend some time collaborating with someone on a project using git, at least, it made a lot more of the process make sense to me. But I think the bigger part of the process that made the learning curve easier was installing Tower as a git client to manage my local and remote git repositories. It’s been fantastic and I recommend it to everyone who’s coming up that path behind me. It really makes the process easier to get your head around.
This isn’t something I need often, but from time to time it can be incredibly helpful to pull down a full copy of a website for local storage on your machine. When I do this I use Site Sucker, and I should point out that this doesn’t pull down your copy of WordPress, It isn’t a backup tool, but it crawls your site and creates a full, static version of the copied site. This is helpful in terms of pulling out styles, grabbing images for local storage as well. It doesn’t work on every site, and it will follow robots.txt exclusions (but they can be overridden if need be) but there have been times when it’s been incredibly useful so I keep it around.
This list isn’t exhaustive, there are other things in my Applications folder I probably could have also nodded to, but you don’t want to be here all day reading this stuff. If you want more of these kinds of posts, or have any questions, chime in on the comments.