Every once in a while a few new interesting tools surface themselves and become a natural part of how a developer works. I’ve taken a look at which tools I’ve introduced in my regular workflow during the last six months.
NetBeans got the first version of what has become awesome PHP support in version 6.5, and after version 6.7 got released just before the summer, things have become very stable. NetBeans is absolutely worth looking into for PHP development (and Java), and you sure can’t beat the price (free!). In the good old days NetBeans were slow as hell, but I’ve not noticed any serious issues in 6.7 (.. although we didn’t really have quad cores and 4GB of memory back then either). Go try it out today!
Balsamiq is an awesome tool for making quick mockups for UI designs. Previous I’d play around in Adobe Photoshop, dragging layers around and being concerned with all the wrong things. Mockups abstracts away all the UI elements (and comes with a vast library of standard elements), which makes it very easy to experiment and focus on the usability instead of the design and its implementation. For someone who’s more interested in the experience and the programming than the actual design (.. I’ll know what I want when I see it!) this makes it easy to convey my suggestions and create small, visual notes of my own usabilityideas.
You can try it out for free at their website, and they even give away licenses to people who are active in Open Source Development (disclaimer: I got a free license, but the experiences are all my own. This is not paid (or unpaid) advertising or product placement.)
I’ve been playing around with git a bit, but after writing a patch for the PEAR-module for Gearman (.. which still doesn’t seem to have made it anywhere significant), I signed up for github to be able to fork the project and submit my patch there. A very good technical solution partnered with an easy way of notifying the original developers of your patch (which you simply provide in your own branch) by submitting a “pull request” makes it very easy to both have patches supplied to you and to submit patches to projects hosted at GitHub.