It was a whopping month and a half ago that I announced my project to build a WordPress theme from scratch, and share the process as I go. You haven’t seen much since then (unless you follow me on Twitter), but I’ve been super busy working on what’s become the Happy theme. The picture above is my all-too-familiar evening view.
An unexpected consequence of sharing that I would basically live-blog my progress on developing Happy is that the development hasn’t been a strict, ordered process. Therefore, I’ve held off sharing things until I’m able to do so confidently knowing that I’m providing useful information to other theme developers. Consider this post a primer. I’ve got a slew of blog posts upcoming on how I’ve made decisions, processed them, what I’ve learned, etc.
Anyway, in this post, I want to share with you some of the tools I’m using while working on the Happy theme, and for my WordPress development in general. They’re not really WordPress specific, but I use them for my WordPress development.
I’ll list my tools of choice below, but definitely check out these posts on ThemeShaper by Ian Stewart and on WPTuts+ by Tom McFarlin that go into far more detail on WordPress-specific development tools. I use many of those they list, and I’ll likely do another post with a list similar to this, on my exact WordPress setup.
Web Dev tools – both web and Mac based
- Machine – 2011 Macbook Pro, 16GB Ram, running Mountain Lion. I originally had the standard 4GB RAM and it was unusable when running tools a Web Developer needs. 16GB is now more than sufficient. SSD would be nice, but I’ll wait until my next machine. I’m usually hooked up to a 22″ external LED monitor (shown above), but sometimes I like to use the laptop by itself to see how things look on smaller screens.
- Editor – Coda 2. Sublime Text 2 is enticing, but I’ve spent a year on Coda and am used to it. The PHP & Web toolkit is a must, as well as the WP Syntax plugin. The only major downside of Coda is that it doesn’t have autocomplete for all functions in a project (aka WordPress), but only those in the file you’re in. Hence the need for the WP Syntax plugin.
- Local – Mamp Pro and Codekit. Codekit is a new addition and it is freaking amazing.
- File Transfer – I usually use the one built in to Coda, but for large transfers I have Transmit.
- Version control – Tower makes working with Git a breeze. Managing Github or Bitbucket repos is no problem at all.
- Browser – Chrome and the built-in inspector. The Web Developer extension is also a nice addition.
- Alfred – Alfred is great. I use the calculator for px to rem conversions constantly. I also love how easy it makes it to find files and programs. Here’s a great writeup on Alfred.
- Photoshop – for basic image manipulation or quick sketches, or for breaking down comps if that’s what you start with.
- Sequel Pro – for managing databases. It’s easy to use and fairly powerful. Packs all the punch I need at least.
- IE testing – I use CoRD because we have it connected to Windows at work. I’ve used Browserstack before too, and it’s very nice. Completely worth the small investment for a professional developer.
- Device testing – other than my desktop, my initial mobile tests are always with my iPhone. We also have an iPad at work I test on. And my non-Apple fanboy coworkers have a couple different Android model phones and a large Android tablet. I would love to have a small tablet like a Kindle Fire or Nexus 7 to test on, but unfortunately I don’t.
I know this post isn’t WordPress specific, and I promise I’ll get to those : ) But I hope this is valuable for perspective on future posts on the theme build series, and maybe you picked up on a tool or two you didn’t already know about.