By Deane Barker on May 3, 2004

Essentials : Mark Pilgrim has listed his “essential” software tools for doing his job. I always like to see these — the absolute, “can’t live without” tools of people who do the same work as me. As the risk of being self-indulgent, here’s mine:

Email: Thunderbird or Mozilla Mail via IMAP. I starting using IMAP a few weeks ago over POP, and I’ve been really happy with it. Having your Sent Items following you around is great. I actually paid for an account at Fusemail to aggregate my POP accounts.

Browsing: Firefox or Mozilla

Text Editing: EditPlus on Windows, Kate on Linux (though anything with syntax highlighting and integrated FTP will work — I’m not that picky). I’ve been using EditPlus for four years now, ever since Joe introduced me to it.

Simple Image Editing: Irfanview on Windows, though I’ll usually just crop and resize images in the Office Photo Editor. The Gimp on Linux (only because I haven’t tried anything else).

Complex Image Editing: I do very, very little of this, but I have a copy of Photoshop Elements lying around. I barely know how to use it. I really miss Microsoft Image Composer. I loved that program.

FTP: I usually only need to FTP out of my text editor, but I use WS_FTP otherwise. FTP is built into KDE, so I don’t need a separate app for Linux

RSS Aggregator: SharpReader on Windows. I still love NewsGator, but I abandoned Outlook and NewsGator was a casualty of that. I use Straw on Linux only because I haven’t really looked for anything else. I don’t care for Straw much.

Office Productivity: Microsoft Office, though I often write simple notes and memos in EditPlus. I care too little about this type of application to bother looking for anything else, though I really like OpenOffice.

Web Serving: Apache. There is no other.

Scripting / Programming: PHP. I use it for both Web programming and client scripting.

Database: MySQL on the server, Access on the desktop. I’m really looking for an excuse to try Filemaker (like I need an excuse…)

WYSIWYG Editing: I don’t do much of this, but I will confess to having a copy of FrontPage 2002 installed. (Gasp! Horrors!) For anything more than the simplest layouts, I get really frustrated with it. These days, I’m using Mozilla Editor more and more. It’s a deceptively competent little app.

Other: I like to have a good search and replace utility. I have an old copy of FunDuc Search and Replace that has served me well since about 1996. PowerGrep is very good too.

I have a copy of Groove for workgroup collaboration, and it’s great when it works. But I have sync issues with it that just drive me nuts. As near as I can tell, my copy at work has been fetching a shared space for three weeks now.

Webalizer is really good for Web log analysis once you get it configued just the way you want it.

Anyone else want to share? What do you have installed right now?



  1. I was just nosing around the web the other day, trying to find out what happened to Microsoft Image Composer, hoping I could buy an old copy of it. I can get along with PS Elements, but sure felt more creative in less time with MIC.

  2. It was bundled with some copies of FrontPage 98. If you can find that on eBay, you may be able to track it down.


  3. Yep, I love reading NewsGator inside of Thunderbird. However, since you’re in IMAP mode with multiple machines, this might not work for you, depending on what your needs are. I’m not familiar with FuseMail, but if they have a facility where they’ll POP e-mail out of somewhere into their IMAP system, then you’re golden.

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