My Top 16 tools of 2008

These span the range from tools I use every day or every week, to tools use more occasionally, but depend on. They also span the range of proprietary, SaaS, and Open Source. They are on this list because I think they are great, because they have undergone a lot of change or development this year, or because they are game-changing. Open Source Tools 1. WordPress. I use WP pretty much everyday, between my own blogs, and helping clients maintain theirs. WP as a blogging tool rocks my world, and although I certainly could move blogging to Drupal, since I seem to be becoming somewhat of a Drupalista, it's just not worth it. WP is clean and easy, and virtually hassle-free. There are lots of really great themes out there, and there just isn't a reason I can find not to use it. 2. Drupal.  I'm somewhat of a latecomer to Drupal. Having been bogged down with my own open source CMS tool before 2005, then having taken a break from development, I missed out on the prime years of Drupal's development. But now, here I am, and I'm impressed. It has become arguably the most popular open source CMS, and is a very able platform for creating all sorts of great web applications. 3. Xen. I use this everyday, although I don't really interact with it much. I am administering and/or responsible for a couple of Virtual Private Servers that use it. Virtualization has really come into it's own this year, and will continue to be a force to reckon with. I'm betting that in 2009, many folks will move from shared hosting to VPS servers. There are a lot of good reasons to consider this. 4. Songbird. Songbird is a brillant idea: build a music player using the Mozilla framework. Songbird was a buggy mess just a year ago, but with the recent release of 1.0, it's absolutely an application to get to know. 5. CiviCRM. Oh what a difference a year or so makes. CiviCRM continues to mature, and is providing an interesting and important new model for nonprofit software development. It is becoming more popular, and is also highly recommended by those who use it. I've been getting to know it this year, and begun implementing it. I like it more and more. 6. Freemind. This is an awesome cross-platform mind mapping tool. I use it to create sitemaps, mostly, but it's also great for brainstorming. 7. Elgg. Elgg is the open source social network management system. Install it on your own server, control your own data. Don't use Ning, use Elgg. It finally looks like a project which will allow me to explore the strength of that platform is coming around the bend. Stay tuned. 8. MAMP. Wanna set up a easy development environment on your Macintosh without struggling with Fink or MacPorts? Use MAMP. Easy, fast, robust, and powerful. Being a pragmatist, I do use proprietary tools, both the Software-as-a-Service, or basic desktop tool types. I use these tools because I haven't found open source alternatives for these functions that work as well, or are as user friendly. SaaS Tools 9. I love I love discovering new music, seeing what people I know are listening to, and learning more about what I listen to over time. 10. Twitter. This was the year for twitter. This was the year that nonprofits discovered twitter, and the year I integrated twitter into my workflow. 11. Evernote. I haven't yet become an Evernote devotee, but I might. It's an online note-saving service, with desktop and iPhone clients. It's great to be able to take notes on my iPhone on the fly, and know they are saved, and will show up on my desktop when I want them. And it's great to have my notes wherever I go, without bothering to sync my phone. 12. Intervals. Having tried a variety of project management and time tracking tools over the years, from the open source tools like ProjectPier (used to be ActiveCollab) and GnoTime (abysmal), as well as SaaS tools like BaseCamp, I have finally come across what is, for me, the perfect mix of project management, time tracking, and invoicing. It's not cheap, but it works well, and saves me so much time invoicing, that it pays for itself several times over every month. Proprietary Tools 13. Adobe Air, and applications. Adobe Air is an impressive framework for rich internet applications. I use TweetDeck, Twhirl, and the Analytics reporting suite among others. 14. Balsamiq. This Adobe Air application deserves its own entry. (I've been meaning to blog about it for a while.) It's a really great tool for creating very rapid mockups of sites that you are working on. It actually is good enough as a wireframe tool. 15. Coda. Panic software makes really good stuff. Coda is a great editor for developers. I like it better than Textmate, which I know is another popular editor for developers. 16. VMWare Fusion. Even being the semi-religious Mac and Linux desktop user that I am, every once in a while I am forced to use Windows. This makes it tolerable. There's a nice full-screen view, if I want to really feel the pain. There is also a mode called "unity" which allows you to run a Windows application in a regular Mac window. It's kinda cool. So what tools did you come to depend on in 2008?


Very nice list.Thank you.

I agree, a very interesting list.

Wish there were more than 24 hours in the day to take a look at all of these.

I wish Plone had made your list... Maybe 2009 will be the year.

I discovered Pandora on the iPhone. Revolutionized by 45 minute car commute, listening to streaming music in my own personal radio station.


Maybe RationalPlan a project management software will make room on your next list. You can find more information on:

Thanks for the Intervals plug! We appreciate the feedback from our customers, especially when they share it with others :) And much agreed on Twitter. That little microblogger has completely changed the conversational landscape.

Basecamp - helps me manage projects, easy to use, has replaced email conversations with some clients.

MailChimp - I enjoy logging into this insanely friendly and very good email campaign app.

Bloglines - RSS aggregator, loads of these around.

VLC - so much better than Windows Media Player.

For website management:

- WordPress because I love designing for it and my clients like to use it.
- Google Analytics because webstats don't have to look dull.
- Google Webmaster tools warned me when a page got hacked.
- Google Grants more than doubled one of my website's visits.

I suggest to add one more tools its called 5pm tools. The new generation of project management tools I think.

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