I gave a presentation to our local (South Australian) Adobe User Group a little while ago on the top 20 free software products that we use on a regular basis.
Here’s the first half of the list:
I use Flash Develop everyday for Actionscript coding and project management. It just keeps getting better.
For managing remote files it’s hard to go past Filezilla but since giving the original presentation my preference has moved towards WinSCP and since I now use Netbeans for all Java and PHP development I find myself using it’s inbuilt FTP tools more often.
Whether you just need to temporarily host a site or don’t need your own domain name there are plenty of options such as http://www.000webhost.com for getting free web hosting.
The differences between POP and IMAP email aren’t quite as distinct as they once were but, for most people, a POP email account means that their email access is tied to one particular computer. This is because POP accounts, by default, delete the email from the server. Even if the account is set to not delete, you still have the problem of sent emails being stored on the local filesystem and therefore only accessible on that computer. This is a real nuisance for those of us who find ourselves regularly working across several PCs.
IMAP accounts keep all received and sent emails on the server and only download a summary of the email to the local filesystem. This means that email can be synchronised across any number of computers. We use Fastmail who offer a basic free account.
Shared network storage works by taking a directory on your local hard drive and copying it to an Internet located server. This directory can be shared with another or several other computers. This means that any files that are saved into the shared directory are copied to all other computers that share it.
I use a SugarSync account to share a directory between my office PC and my home PC and store in it all business related documentation. This means that no matter which PC I use to create or edit documents on they are automatically synchronised on the other one.
Dropbox is another popular alternative and both offer very good free accounts.
Subversion works just like shared network storage except that it is tailored to managing software source files and requires manual synchronisation.
A number of hosts like Assembla offer free accounts for small projects.
Tortoise is a subversion client that integrates into the Windows Explorer shell. This essentially means that it uses different coloured icons to indicate the state of the file, and in particular, if you have made some changes to the file and hence need to upload it to the server.
As an Australian company doing daily business with clients in the USA, Ireland and other parts of the world Skype is an absolutely critical tool. Skype allows us to overcome one of the major barriers to remote work by providing easy text, verbal and visual communication.
With each of my staff members having access to several ftp, svn and email accounts I need to be able to manage over one hundred usernames and passwords many of which are used infrequently. I use the Keepass Password Store to store all these passwords in a single file which is protected by a single password.
To be continued…
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