Software Tools That Do Help
May 10, 2016
Having the proper tooling in your daily activities can be a life-saver. Often people get used to some tools and they do not seek alternatives. But actually keeping yourself up-to-date can boost your productivity (like Arny for example: he could still be Konan the Barbarian, swinging his sword, but instead he is now using 4 slot rocket launcher – so he is kind of keeping up-to-date)
Below you will find some tools that I find very useful. You may know a better/newer version of them, in such case please let me know!
1. Clipboard manager – This is one of the most useful things, in my opinion. There are quite a few choices. I have been using Ditto for a while (http://ditto-cp.sourceforge.net/) and I find it quite sufficient for my needs. And its free.
2. An advanced screenshot tool – Like they say nowadays: “A picture is worth one thousand and twenty four words”. So every time you want to explain some strange behaviour of an app to a colleague in a messenger app- just take a screenshot and annotate it. But I really wouldn’t do it every time if I have to use paint to crop the screenshot first (because I don’t want them to peek into my taskbar), then try to annotate them and draw the arrows myself then I have to find the file so that I can add it to my message.
So far I find greenshot (http://getgreenshot.org/) very useful. First of all it’s integrated with the “print screen” button and opens a mode in which you can choose which area of the screen to capture. Then you can edit the screenshot with some annotations and colors and then upload it directly to different sources (imgur, google photos, jira, confluence,etc), send it as an email, save it and more. And its free.
3. Checkvist.com – This is a really cool online tool which I use for braking down an activity or a task into subtasks and then being able to categorize them with different labels, breaking some of the subtasks into subsubtasks and then into subsubsubtasks… adding due dates, assignees, notes, etc – all of this and more using a very light user interface and a lot of available shortcuts. And also collaborate with others. And its free.
4. Easy bookmarks access – In my daily activity I need to have quickaccess to different web resources and different development environments. So far I find the Papaly (https://papaly.com/) as a very useful and simple tool that helps in this. It can be integrated with the browser as a homepage and every time I open a new tab I see something like this (this is just a fragment though, I have 3 times more links):
I have organized my links into topics so I can quickly choose where I want to go. You can also share boards with other members and collaborate on it. And it is free.
5. Online gantt chart – I have been searching for quite a lot of time for a simple online gantt chart tool to use. And also flexible. So far I find that smartsheet (smartsheet.com) is matching my criterias the most. Gantt chart is manipulated similarly to a spreadsheet. . You have almost all of the useful features of a desktop gantt (like task dependencies, assignees, estimations, visualization and so on). You can collaborate with others and also see if a developer has already too much work assigned to him. And NO, it’s not free. So you really have to convince the management it’s worth it (and you have one trial month to do that).
6. Beyond compare – This is a tool for comparing files and folder. It’s really handy if you have two versions of your application and you want to see what are the exact differences between them – first in terms of added/removed files, and then comparing the content of the modified ones. You have options to choose how the comparison should work (like should it compare timestamps of the file or only the content, what files to be ignored and so on).And again it’s not free unfortunately. To be honest, I haven’t looked for alternatives in a long time – there might be already someimproved software that handles this in a more mature way and probably free.
This is just the first list of tools that I am using in my day-to-day activities. I will continue listing more tools in the future. Meanwhile I would be happy to get your feedback on the above and please let me know in case you have found better software!