Useful Services, Libraries and Tools – December 2012

Its been a great year: got happily married, bought a house, grew my company (Strategery), got better at speaking Dutch… Since this is probably my last post this year, I’d like to simply share some of the tools and libraries I’ve been using while working at Strategery. These tools and services have helped make my work-life so much easier and exciting – I hope they can make your year better too!

Infrastructure

  • Amazon Web Services: end-to-end infrastructure on the cloud. By far the best option out there – and the cheapest.
  • NewRelic: Real-time Web Application performance management and server monitoring. Awesome tools to tune up your site for maximum performance.
  • Chef: open-source systems integration framework that helps automate the cloud. Works really nice with Amazon Web Services and I’ve used it with our heavily-customized Beanstalk AMIs. I’ll write a post about that later because I haven’t found good documentation on anything I was able to do there yet.
  • Varnish: our caching HTTP reverse proxy of choice.

PHP

  • Composer: a dependency manager for PHP. Essential for custom-built applications (our specialty).
  • Assetic: asset management framework for PHP. It can merge CSS and JS files together, minify/uglify/pack them, compile them from SCSS/LESS/SASS or CoffeeScript, and even works with images (e.g. optimizing).
  • Imagine: a very well-writen and heavily-tested OOP library for image manipulation with PHP 5.3+. I haven’t really used it yet but I’m seriously considering taking it to a spin in order to replace PhpThumb.

Project Management

  • Atlassian Products: I use JIRA (ticketing) and Confluence (wiki) and strongly recommend them. I’ll also probably test Bamboo and Bonfire on different projects soon.
  • Toggl: our time-tracking tool of choice. It isn’t perfect but its the best I’ve found.

JavaScript

  • Modernizr: at the time of writing a pretty much essential library to detect HTML5 and CSS3 features in the client browsers. Works very well with require.js and polyfills.
  • Cookie.js: light-weight cookie management.
  • Path: ¬†light-weight client-side routing library.
  • Zepto: minimalist (very light-weight and fast) library for modern browsers only – ideal for replacing jQuery on mobile applications/site.
  • YUI Library: and¬†open source JavaScript and CSS library for building richly interactive web applications. I particularly love their Resize library.

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