Christian Rochford
Written by Christian Rochford on 20 October 2014

We all have little tools that make our lives, or our jobs easier. I have a lot. In fact, I have personalised my computer experience so much that using anyone else's makes me feel like Bambi on ice. Unsure, unaware of what is going on, and not quite able to handle myself. If, like me, you're always on the lookout for a neat plugin or website you didn't know about, we've got just the thing for you. I asked around the office, and these are the tools of the trade we could not possibly live without.

Everyone

Basecamp

The mothership! Everyone on the team relies on this web app to help us manage our projects in a timely and structured fashion. We use it for everything, from concept releases, to edits, feedback, and testing. And it ensures that no communications get lost, and all requests can be kept up with. If there was an Employee of the Month award, it would go to Basecamp every month.

Dropbox

Everyone in the office uses Dropbox for their personal file sharing. But it's also very handy for inter-team file sharing. It's used to share pitches, and assets for design work. We use it to send PSDs from the Design team to the Frontend team. And the Design team use it to sync with their versioning tool, LayerVault (more below). The Backend Dev team also use it for sharing delicious recipes and new music.

Design

LayerVault

We only started using this versioning tool (think git or svn for the devs!) for our PSDs very recently, but it's become an integral part of the team. And I don't think we could go without it now. Especially as our Design team grows, it will become more and more important that multiple people can work on our designs simultaneously.

LiveView

Now that most of the websites we design and build are responsive, the Design team have found this app indispensable for viewing how their designs work on mobile devices.

GuideGuide

Let's face it, one of the most annoying things about working with Photoshop is Guides, and the inability to copy them from one document to another. So to the rescue comes GuideGuide, the magical Photoshop plugin that allows you to set up grids and guides really quickly and efficiently. This cuts down on the initial time spent on setting up PSDs, and we can get to designing you a beautiful website quicker.

Frontend

TypeKit

Years ago, the web was overrun with the same basic fonts. In 2009, Small Batch, Inc changed all that when they introduced Typekit, which revolutionised the webfont industry. We've loved it for a very long time, but especially since 2011 when Adobe took over the service. They started adding more foundaries, their own fonts and much more, including syncing with Photoshop. Typekit gives the Design and Frontend teams a huge range of fonts to work with in order to make the web a nicer and more interesting place to be.

Nth-test

CSS3 has brought with it incredible flexibility and control. One of those enhancements that we use a lot is the pseudo-selectors nth-child and nth-of-type. This tool allows us to test and debug our CSS code to ensure that it will work for larger amounts of content than we might have at launch, so that it will continue to work into the future for our clients.

RWDcalc

Almost all of the websites that the Frontend team build these days are responsive, and they couldn't live without this little web app. RWDcalc helps calculate sizes for responsive websites in percentages, ensuring they can build beautifully seamless code.

Backend

PHP Manual

The PHP manual is the bible of PHP development! Nobody can retain the amount of PHP functions (and their parameters) that are in existence, so it goes without saying that this resource is one of the most important for the Backend team.

WriteCodeOnline

If you're writing complex PHP code, it's very hard to know if it will work exactly how you intend it or indeed if it will work at all. The Backend Development team use this web app to test and refine PHP code before pushing it live.