My tools of trade (part I)

In UI/UX and in design terms in general, we are used to work with a lot of tools, hardware and software ones. Those are a few of my tools of trade in terms of design, so you can test any of them if you think they might be useful for yourself!

Webapps

Harvest App

Harvest allows you to make estimations, invoices, track their status and the most important part: time tracking. After basecamp leaved out the time tracking field, there was a lack which is now covered by Harvest, and I must say even better than basecamp. Harvest has a desktop app for time tracking but you can also use a browser tracker which is connected to their servers, so if you close your harvest window, it will continue working (don’t worry, if you forgot to stop it, harvest will mail you to remind you the counter is still active after a few hours). Highly recommended.

Trello

Co-working with someone? When I work with other people I use Trello. This tool allows you to create cards where you can share checklists to keep in mind what’s remaining. Also its interaction between users is excellent, as you’ll be able to “notify” there are new stuff on your boards. Perfect for work interaction and tracking objectives.

InVision

Brilliant mockup co-working tool. For UI/UX designers this is an awesome tool. You can upload your own mockups in image format, and make interactions between them (allows linking + hovering), also, you can check your designs seen on different screens resolutions (most common ones) and interact with your client to share feedback. They can place comments over each mockup and so keep tracking what needs changes. An smart application make by designers, for designers.

Iconmonstr

Most projects require small deadlines, and when you can’t perform your own icon assets, Iconmonstr offers a great solution. There are more platforms like thenounproject, but in this case, they use same style for all their icons, that’s why I prefer Iconmonstr than thenounproject. It allows you to save in .png (now with style applied directly from website) or .svg (best choice) by making a little donation that will worth it.

Fontawesome

Excellent typographic icon set from bootstrap creators. Using font for icons is the best way to perform responsive icons. You don’t need to do different sizes and images won’t crap, so they will keep it’s resolution. Type is vectorial, meaning you can place the icon as bigger as you want and it will keep looking delicious!. Yes, they’re mainstream now and lot of websites uses them. But if you aren’t looking to do your own icons, this set will save you with a bunch set of perfectly made icons.

Software

Adobe Creative Cloud (CC)

Adobe finally switched to suscription mode, and it works! That’s because they followed the one software big upgrade per year structure, and that was becoming a mess for who paid a whole license just a year ago, and had to pay for another one each 12 months. Yes, you’ve got to pay monthly a quote in order to use one or the whole suite, but now it includes any upgrade done to the program. That allows them to upgrade it more and more without having to wait for big changes, and the user for being always up to date with the new features. The only problem is that they won’t allow you to pick up as many programs you want, you should choose between one single product or the whole suite. I think being able to pick up as many as you want at X€/app should be interesting, but anyway, that’s their call.

It worths it? That’s why people asked me a lot, and after having worked with it for a few months, I can say YES, it’s worth it. Why? older one-license suite style provided you a whole applications set, but now it includes a lot more!

  • Cloud based storage with 30Gb of space (upgradable): It allows you to keep your originals everywhere.
  • Edge applications (web/coding) (all in beta now)
    • Reflow: Responsive testing and mockups (really cool and powerful)
    • Code: www.brackets.io but with an Adobe touch
    • Inspect: See instantly how your code looks (with Code)
    •  Animate: Yes, finally the HTML5 animations editor, with a flash look like environment
  • Muse: Yes, not the best app for coding (best choice will include Code+Inspect), but this is what the design part of dreamweaver will look like in a near future (they plan to erase Dreamweaver in phases, replacing it with the new independent tools (or maybe they join them into one single app)).
  • TypeKit features: This is A W E S O M E. All types from tipekit are included with your license. That means tons of fonts web ready-to-use and ready to place on your desktop computer. License is limited while you’ve got your CC license, but it’s amazing the amount of types they’ve got, even from foundrys like Underware.
  • Behance Prosite: Behance is clearly one of the most important platforms for designers around the world. It started focussed a lot on USA, but as people starting noticing it exists, it has become eventually one of the most used portfolio websites around the world. What does this website here? Adobe bought it years ago and now with your license you get also, ProSite free page with hosting space.
  • Obviously, all the othrer applications + much more! (Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, After Effects, Premiere, Dreamweaver, Audition, InDesign…) and all of them in retina display for those who own a Macbook Pro retina.
  • A bunch of tools also has been included, since DPS (Digital Publishing System) to iOS apps (photoshop touch and other ones are also included with this license).

So, in resume, you get a bunch more for a let’s say “fair enough” price.

PNG Express

This little photoshop plugin will make happier any UI/UX designer. Why? its task is really simple, but the amount of time you save is huge. It just makes what its deserved to made, save each layer separately and saving it with its own layer style embed. Any designer working on UI/UX will know that saving a button with transparent background and attaching it’s style is a 3+ steps procedure. In my case, the procedure has always been to duplicate layer, rasterize the duplicated one, and then, selecting the layer make a selection bigger than the own layer, Cmd + C and then new file, Cmd + V and finally save for web and devices in PNG-24. Now with PNG Express it’s reduced to select layer -> Save (with PNG Express extension). Cool, simple, but powerful, and it also supports SVG creating custom webfonts! awesome!

Subtlepatterns plugin

Yes, patterns were mainstream, not so much now that Apple has decided to go for flat design (and you know, Apple say, Apple trend). Anyway if you plan to still use patterns (which are cool and looks great well used) you may think in using Subtlepatterns pluggin. At the website you can download any pattern for free, and also test them, but this plugin will allow you to add directly patterns over shapes by just clicking the one you want to use. Again, saving time and getting research easier.

More yet to come in part II! Stay alert! :)

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