My pro web apps: June 2010

June 8, 2010 | 3 comments

I thought I’d list the third-party web applications I use on a daily basis to do my job. There are plenty more that I use for fun (Flickr) or find useful (Twitter) – but these are the things that have become integral to how I make money. I’d be interested to hear yours: if you post them to Twitter with the hashtag #myprowebapps, or leave them in the comments, I’ll do an update in a future post.

My apps, then:

  • Gmail (email). I used to be a die-hard Mozilla Thunderbird user, but during my Elgg days I switched over. There are probably better email web apps to be using these days; ideally I’d like one that runs on my own infrastructure rather than in Google’s cloud. But with one tweak (I have a separate pane that keeps all starred messages at the top of the screen, so I know what to reply to imminently), the default interface is all I really need.
  • Google Calendar (scheduling). I didn’t get into Google Calendar until I figured out how to sync it to my iPhone – and then it became invaluable. I get a reminder of imminent tasks wherever I am. Interoperability with Gmail for event invitations means I have an integrated system for keeping on top of calls and conferencing.
  • Producteev (task management). Until I found this, I’d been using Remember the Milk for tasks, which I never really got into, despite buying a pro account. Integration with Google Calendar is perfect, and the iPhone app has its own push notifications. And for my purposes, it’s free, which is even better.
  • Freckle (time management) has dramatically simplified the way I bill for my time. The integrated timer means I can effortlessly keep track of how many hours I’m spending on what project, and I get to export unbilled hours to a nicely-formatted automatic invoice. Offline access and the ability to mark invoices as paid would make me even happier.
  • Beanstalk (source code management) is by far the best hosted subversion repository provider I’ve found. (Projects can also be hosted using Git.) It integrates with a bunch of different applications, including Basecamp and Zendesk, but so far I’ve only needed to tie it to Lighthouse.
  • Lighthouse (issue management) is low on features compared to Trac (which I’ve used for years), and it’s true that I’d prefer an easy-to-use bug tracker that managed to incorporate things like Mylyn integration and bug priority levels. But when it comes to interacting with clients, given the choice between feature-packed and non-developer-friendly, I’ll pick the latter every time. Lighthouse is simple, well-designed and light years less painful to use than a tool like Bugzilla. It’s also proven pretty useful inside teams of developers, although there are usually complaints about missing features.

It should go without saying that I’m not involved with any of these companies, and none of them have paid me for this post. In fact, in the case of Freckle, Beantalk and Lighthouse, I happily pay them. I think subscription or one-off license charges are probably a better way for smaller software houses to fund their web applications, and I’m really glad to see these kinds of premium models become more popular.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these, and the apps you find useful in your work. Leave a comment or write your own post and tweet it with the hashtag #myprowebapps.

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3 Comments

  1. I use Thunderbird with GMail IMAP. Best of both worlds. Well, except on my phone, where I use K9 with GMail IMAP.

    Oh, and you use a task management system that doesn’t have hierarchical tasks? I use http://crowdfavorite.com/tasks-pro/ – which doesn’t sync with things, but does allow me to create tasks within tasks, and also to tag tasks.

    Andrew Ducker June 8, 2010 (11:31 pm)
  2. I think the only web apps I use consistently via their web front ends are Google calendar and Remember The Milk – those both have no-nonsense and easy to use interfaces.

    Of course, both these are also linked to my desktop, laptop and phone – so tasks and dates become ubiquitous.

    We have a different view on task manager I know, and while productev does have much going for it – its free for a start (although I bet that will change), and it seems to connect to more things – but I much prefer RtM’s interface.

    RtM lets you enter a task + extra information such as tags, due date, priority etc all from one line by parsing the entry. Keyboard shortcuts make the rest of the interface stupidly quick to use.

    Marcus Povey June 23, 2010 (1:03 pm)
  3. For issue|bug management I prefer Mantis (on own host), repository hosting (with additional integrated tools, if needed) – Assembla (2Gb even on free plan)

    Lazy Badger August 26, 2010 (7:04 am)

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