I know that many of you out there would like to be able to at least try to do some of your own work. A lot of what professionals do would not be possible without having the right tools available. Most of us that are considered professionals within the design and coding professions have spent years searching out and trying different tools before adopting the best one for each task as our mainstay. The tools I am presenting here are tools that I actually use on a regular basis to achieve professional results. Some of them may be familiar to you while others are probably not.
GNU Image Manipulation Program
GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program and it is an open source graphic editor that is every bit as powerful as Photoshop, albeit, not so refined, polished and automated. Which is to say you can do pretty much anything using GIMP as you can using Adobe’s Photoshop but without spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year for the capability. As GIMP is every bit as capable as Photoshop, you should be prepared to spend some time learning how to use it to good effect. There are an incredible number of GIMP tutorials on Youtube that can help you learn the basics as well as walk you through very specific projects using advanced functions which would otherwise be beyond your skill level. This is how you can quickly become every bit as capable as a pro. The more projects you do, the more quickly you will learn.
The Following is the description of GIMP from GIMP.org.
GIMP is a cross-platform image editor available for GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows and other operating systems. It is completely free software, so you can change its source code and distribute your changes. Whether you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, or scientist, GIMP provides you with sophisticated tools to get your job done. You can further enhance your productivity with GIMP thanks to many customization options and 3rd party plugins.
FileZilla is a cross-platform FTP client, although they also provide an FTP server by the same name (Windows Only). For those of you not familiar with FTP, it stands for file transfer protocol and it allows you to connect and manipulate files and folders on your web server (or that of your hosting provider) directly. This ability provides significant advantages over only being able to access and design your website though WordPress or some other Content Management System. What happens if you create such stringent security around your WordPress website that you lock yourself out? Well, with FileZilla, you simply connect directly to the server, modify and replace a file or two and you are immediately back in business. This is only one example but the reasons for having a really good and reliable FTP client are endless. Even if you use a content management service, there are countless things you can do through FTP that you simply cannot d with even the best CMS. Furthermore, I have been working with FTP for about 26 years and I have never seen a better FTP client than FileZilla.
The following is a description about the origins of FileZilla from WikiPedia.org
FileZilla was started as a computer science class project in the second week of January 2001 by Tim Kosse and two classmates. Before they started to write the code, they discussed under which licence they should release the code. They decided to make FileZilla an open-source project because many FTP clients were already available, and they didn’t think that they would sell a single copy if they made FileZilla commercial.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a program designed to collect and present in a spreadsheet format, all of the information that is relevant to the search engines as they crawl and rank your website. As such, the program and the information it compiles are both of paramount importance to the auditing and analysis of your website where your ranking on the search engines is concerned. Screaming Frog provides a free version that cannot save data or any other information within the program. However, you can save the information to spreadsheets and keep them for comparative analysis or as a record of where your coming from and what you have accomplished. Among the more important types of information you will see at a glance with this tool are the page titles, meta data fields, server response codes, images sizes and locations, etc!
The following quote is the description of the Screaming Frog application from the Screaming Frog website!
The SEO Spider is a small desktop program you can install locally on your PC, Mac or Linux machine which spiders websites’ links, images, CSS, script and apps from an SEO perspective.
Audacity is an audio editing and manipulation program that is completely open source (well maintained & free). It is powerful and functional and so easy to use. If you need to do voice overs or create music or audio notes or improve the sound on old recordings or anything else that involves the management and manipulation of audio recordings then you need Audacity. As with As with other top-shelf GNU’s such as GIMP, there are countless third party add-ons to improve the capabilities and functionality of this program. One thing is absolutely certain though and that is that over the years Audacity has become more and more indispensable to the day-to-day operations here at Sewell Consulting.
The following information is from Wikipedia
Audacity is a free open source digital audio editor and recording computer software application, available for Windows, OS X, Linux and other operating systems. Audacity was started in the fall of 1999 by Dominic Mazzoni and Roger Dannenberg at Carnegie Mellon University and was released on May 28, 2000 as version 0.8.
As of 10 October 2011, it was the 11th most popular download from SourceForge, with 76.5 million downloads. Audacity won the SourceForge 2007 and 2009 Community Choice Award for Best Project for Multimedia. In March 2015 hosting was moved to FossHub and by 4 July 2015 it had exceeded 10 million downloads there.
MAC Apache MySQL PHP Server
MAMP is the Mac variant of the Apache, MySQL, PHP server bundle. What it does is truly powerful for the professional web designer. It turns your computer into a web server. Which is to say that it allows you to manipulate and view websites right on your computer and be able to see them exactly as they would appear if accessed from over the internet. But it does so much more than that. It allows you to create and manipulate MySQL databases, which is critical for a whole host of reasons. Not least of which is if you are wanting to perform advanced build or management functions on a WordPress website or a website using one of the other content Management Services.
WAMP is the Windows variant and there are countless others. You can find a listing of them HERE.
Paparazzi is really a very simple program, but what it does is very important. It allows you to take a screen shot of an entire web page no matter the length. It captures it in PNG quality at actual size and so you end up with a high quality image of any website from a perspective you would not otherwise be able to see. I use this to get an overall look of a website. I use it to design websites that look and flow better. I use it to create records of websites I’m working on so that I have the clearest possible example of the state of the website before and after I have performed my work. I even use it in the creative process for designing storyboards and artboards of proposed websites so that clients can see exactly what their website will look like when I’m done. I use this simple tool all the time and it has been invaluable to me and to the overall quality of my work.
Paparazzi! is a small utility for Mac OS X that makes screenshots of webpages. It’s written in Objective-C using the Cocoa API and the WebKit framework. It was inspired by webkit2png, a commandline tool written by Paul Hammond in pyObjC.
Paparazzi! 0.6.x requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later (current version: 0.6.7).
Older versions are available on the downloads page.
If you find yourself using Paparazzi! often, please remember to donate!
You can also follow me/yell at me about Paparazzi! on Twitter! (Contains swears and silliness.)
TextWrangleris a great text editor designed for coding. It is the free version of BBedit, which is a very popular coding solution for those who can afford to buy it ($50).
Celtx is a great company that provides solutions for writing and storyboarding movie scripts. Obviously, I don’t write movie scripts, I build awesome websites, but I can use the same tools to flesh out my design concepts and take my planning and creative process way beyond wireframes. Celtx Shot is free for MAC and can be downloaded from the MAC App Store. It is a storyboarding app that complements some of the other products that Celtx charges for. Onother one of their free apps is an online script writing app that helps you to outline your story and better manage your characters and other aspects of writing to scripts.
If you go to Celtx.com now, you can sign up for a free membership which provides a number of useful tools. The next plan up is only 8 or 9 dollars a month. If you are working on creating a name for yourself in the age of video and want to perfect your art. Start by perfecting your video planning process.