I’m on my third computer this year, I hate having to Google and find all the open-source/free software I need to get up and running. This post will serve as my go to page to grab the essentials. Since I work in the mobile arena most of the items listed will lean towards working with the fourth screen. First things first
Firefox- While Google Chrome is awesome, nothing comes close to the swiss army knife of browsers. A couple of add-ons that always help include:
- FireBug – the firebug debugger
- As a mobile developer you should as many browsers loaded on your workstation as possible, a nice way to cheat is to use this user agent switcher. This firefox extension was created by Chris Pederick and can be found here. You should also check out TechPattern.com which has an xml file with an extensive list of user agents ranging from mobile phones to old school browsers.
- Finally, I always find that Colorzilla doesn’t hurt.
Every developer should have a nice variety of browsers on his boxes so dropping in the major Webkit based browsers (Chrome and Safari) and a couple of versions of IE (note how i didn’t link to them; IE<8=Evil). A webkit based browser is extremely important since most of the major mobile operating systems (iOs, Android, Blackberry OS 6 ) use webkit.
On Mac OS I use Cyberduck ( I know you can use terminal but I like pretty UI’s) on Windows Filezilla (filezilla is also available for Mac OS)
I started editing websites using Coda (Its not open source), its a great piece of software and worth every penny. Its a well designed application with tons of features. However once I made the plunge back to PC world I discovered Aptana Studio and now love it. Its based off Eclipse which means there are plug-ins galore . Programming wise if your developing for iphone your pretty much stuck with Xcode. If your programming for android or blackberry the standard is Eclipse, although there are many alternatives (netbeans, IntelliJ).
Software Development Kits
Wire-framing allows you to quickly create prototypes , early mock-ups, and prevent potential snags before you even lay a line of markup or code…I never do it. However I’m starting to see the benefits of a properly organized project and have found some the tools listed below helpful. Mockingbird- Free (still in beta) web based wire-framing tool. Its really easy to share your designs and since its web based it can be accessed from anywhere. Lumzy- is similar to Mockingbird with the added addition of editing images from your computer. It also allows real time collaboration. SimpleDiagrams – Super simple desktop based sketching/wire-framing tool for windows, mac os, and linux Not Free but a mobile developer should have easy access to at least 3 phones. I would recommend an iphone, any phone running the android os (preferably with a different resolution and features than an iphone), and a decent feature phone.
Mostly iOs focused but the tools below are quick ways of reviewing and capturing your mobile apps/websites for demo purposes.
LiveView is a specialized remote screen viewing application intended as a tool to help designers create graphics for mobile applications, it has also proven to be useful for creating quick and dirty simulations, demos, and experience prototypes.
Reflection allows you to AirPlay mirror and record your iPhone 4S, iPad 2 or the new iPad to any Mac or PC, wirelessly.