Applications I Loved in 2007

Here is the promised new year follow-up with applications I really like and use.

Open source stuff [Windows & Mac]: Firefox 2, Flock, Thunderbird 2, FileZilla, and Audacity
All of those worked great on Windows and great on Mac. In 2004 when still using Windows for daily work, I dumped IE & Outlook and switched to Firefox and Thunderbird and have never regretted it. [OK, Calendaring needs work. Will Sunbird/Lightning ever break out like Thunderbird?]. In 2005, I even switched my wife’s machine and my father-in-law to Firefox/Thunderbird. Works great, with no trouble for me or them. Soon, I’ll blog about my favorite must-have Firefox extensions and Thunderbird extensions.

In 2007, these open source apps eased the transition to Mac. I just copied directories over and installed the Mac version and voila, it all worked. Well, I didn’t bring Flock data over from the Windows machine– I just installed it after Firefox and let it pick up my bookmarks from there.

With FileZilla, I did need to re-enter my servers and passwords, but I work with only a few FTP sites. However, all the application UI and workflow experience transfers back-and-forth just fine. Over time, I expect I’ll go buy YummyFTP since it is incredibly fast, efficient and more Mac-integrated. In terms of features/version, Audacity lags a bit on the Mac, but it worked fine for my needs. TUAW recently posted a call for Mac developers and hopefully it will catch-up soon.

Finally, Flock turned out to be a great tool for blog surfing and blog writing and social surfing. It is especially strong with del.icio.us, Facebook, flickr, and ma.gnolia and twitter.

Password Managers [Windows, Palm, PocketPC]: Ilium eWallet $30
I used Ilium eWallet with Windows and a Palm V… then PocketPC… then a Treo. It worked great and provided a fantastic way to secure and manage tons of passwords, PINS, access codes and WPA codes. With the availability PocketPC and Palm applications and synchronization it also provided a way to securely access information on Windows or take-it with me.

Password Managers [Macintosh, iPhone]: 1Password $30
I ordered a MacBook Pro in May both to jump on the Switcher bandwagon and in anticipation of having a more iPhone-friendly platform. Much to my surprise, I came to love the Mac and abruptly ended my initial affair with the iPhone after 6 days. 1Password from Agile Web Solutions turned out to be both a password manager and the friend that helped reunite me with iPhone (OK Steve Jobs and a $200 price break helped too). 1Password manager is great because it secures data leveraging the Macintosh keychain system, works simultaneously across multiple browsers (Camino, Firefox, Flock, Safari), and syncs with the iPhone via a clever use of encryption with a Javascript bookmarklet that keeps your portable data secure.

XML, XSD and XSLT [Windows]: Altova XMLSpy $500
I would hate to do any XML heavy-lifting without the latest version of Altova XMLSpy. If you’re going to make or edit XSD schema files or make or edit XSLT, just get it. Generally, the Professional version is recommended. I’ve never needed more, but I haven’t worked with WSDL. The Altova site offers a confusing array of offerings, but just look for the basic version of Altova XMLSpy Professional [30 day trial here]. It is expensive, but well worth it.

Manipulating any sort of text file [Macintosh]: TextMate $60
TextMate sings with any sort of text file you can think of editing. Built-in bundles and extensibility make it fluent with everything from Actionscript to XML. It is a ninja at replacing, reformatting, realigning and re-anything with text-based content in a single file or across a multi-file project. Using Textmate I’ve munged .htaccess, Javascript, PHP, plain text, robots.txt, sitemap.xml and big gnarly text file hairballs of data, with preternatural alacrity. Be sure to check out the author’s blog and the Textmate in Action screencasts for some great tips and speed editing demo’s.

Blog writing [Windows]: w.bloggar [donationware]
w.bloggar on Windows was my favorite, but fell into disrepair by October 2006 (and didn’t resurface until a year later). I have not used it since late 2006, but development seems to be on once again. The December 2007 update looks promising and I may pop it on a USB thumbdrive for some portable client-side blog editing on Windows Machines.

Blog writing [Macintosh]: Ecto $18
Ecto rocks! I’ve been using Ecto 3.0 since it went alpha and am very happy with it. Ecto offers round-trip editing with WYSIWYG and HTML source views. You’ll find tons of handy features to paste URL links and automate entries. Ecto really shines if you contribute to 2 or more blogs, and want local editing, saving drafts, and automatic publishing. One cool feature I’ve come to appreciate is the way it automatically submits the post title and a TinyURL link to twitter

Sitemap Utilities [Macintosh]: Rage Google Sitemap Automator $30
If you’re responsible for 2 or more public-facing websites with at least dozens of pages each, then get Rage Google Sitemap Automator now to improve your search engine optimization and indexing. It is rare for a niche need and a solution to exquisitely and harmoniously unite as a solution. Rage Google Sitemap Automator does just that and kicks asterisk. Point the Rage Sitemap Automator at your web site and it scours the bugger for every possible page that could be submitted to Google sitemaps or Yahoo Site Explorer. Then you can easily add filters to set the refresh frequency and priority of whole batches of those pages (or even exclude some). It is highly configurable letting you easily add extensions to exclude (or include), which came in very handy for adding pages with a “.pl” extension from a site that uses YaBB. Sitemap Automator also does more than typical sitemap generators by letting you easily make batch changes the sitemap without rescanning the whole site. If you’re responsible for 2 or more public-facing websites with at least dozens of pages each, then it is well worth the $30 to get Rage Google Sitemap Automator [or at least use the trial version].