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Jake Lundberg
Jake Lundberg

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OMG, so many tools!

These days, there are Tons of tools all fighting for the attention of developers. Productivity apps, notes, browsers, calendar apps, project tracking, dev tools, the list goes on and on.

So how do we find the ones that work for us? Usually, we just have to give them a try...but before we can, we have to know they exist.

I've always enjoyed learning what tools other people use because I get to discover new stuff that may help me, my team, and any one else I interact with. It got me thinking that maybe others, like you, do too. So in this post, I'm going to share what tools I personally use (or am currently trying out) in case maybe one or two of them will help you, or someone you know.

So here we go...

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I've tried many note taking apps over the years, but never really settled on the "right" one. Sometimes they were missing some feature I needed (like markdown support), or they cost too much. Others couldn't be accessed across all devices. There was always something. But a few months ago I discovered Obsidian and have been pretty happy with it so far.

It has markdown support (which is a must for me), a really nice UI, and an open API that's allowed for some pretty great community developed plugins. I personally have mine synced with my GitHub account so all my notes get committed to a private subscription fee at all.

I definitely recommend this one to anyone looking for a new note taking app, or just not satisfied with the one you currently have.

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Password Manager

Password managers are amazing. If you aren't using one, I highly encourage you to do so. They make it so much easier to have strong passwords for all your accounnts without the hassle of having to remember them all (let's be honest, no one was remembering strong passwords unless they re-used them everywhere).

I've bounced between 1 or 2 over the years, but am currently using 1Password and I've been pretty happy when it so far. They have extensions or add-ons for different browsers that all work really well. Their UI is simple and easy to use. They even have a desktop app, which is nice for quick access if you don't already have your browser open.

So far I give 1Password a 👍, but it's only been a couple of months, so we'll see.

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To Do's

I'm a big list person. Having my different lists for ideas, daily to do's, long term projects, or new tech to look into helps me stay organized. Like other categories of tools, I've tried many different apps for tracking to do items, but none of them really helped me stay productive. Sure, they helped me stay organized, but I always thought more could be done to encourage people to be more productive and gain more satisfaction from completing an item on their to do list, regardless of how mundane that task might be. And then I discovered Habitica.

Habitica is an amazing app that gamifies the normal to do list experience. The whole premise is you're a character in a fantasy world, and you level up as you complete items on your different lists. You can fight off bosses, find magical items, join guilds, accept challenges, and raise pets all from just being productive. Best of all, it's free and open source!

I personally love gamifying things and am very motivated by accomplishments and leveling up. Habitica has definitely captured my attention, and I've noticed a big increase in my personal productivity. Maybe it'll work for you too?

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When it comes to calendars, I still haven't had much luck. The normal Apple and Gmail ones are fine, but I wouldn't exactly go out of my way to recommend them. I was really excited when Proton Calendar was released, but so far, it's been pretty limited...especially with Apple stuff. But I did recently discover Cron and it looks very promising.

From what I've been able to tell, it looks beautiful and has great Mac and iOS support. The feedback I've seen has been really good. But I'm currently waiting for access, so I've not been able to get hands on with it yet... :fingers_crossed:!

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Email has been around for what feels like forever. And there are of course some big hitters out there that dominate the market. Everyone and their mother knows about Gmail. And of course there's Outlook and Yahoo. But I personally have become partial to Proton Mail. I've been using them for years, and have nothing but great things to say.

There are free accounts, but if you can afford it, I would recommend going with a paid plan as it comes with benefits for their entire suite of products (Mail, Calendar, Drive, and VPN). They have lots of things I recommend them for, but if I had to pick just 1, it's their incredible level of focus on privacy. Everything is E2E (end-to-end) encrypted and protected by Switzerland's very strict privacy laws.

It may seem strange to pay for email these day's, but if you care at all about privacy, I cannot recommend Proton Mail enough.

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Project Tracking

If you've spent any amount of time as a professional web developer, undoubtedly you've encounted half a dozen or more Project Management (PM) tools, all claiming to be the solution to all your problems. There are lots of opinions on this topic (many strong opinions), so all I'm going to say is that each person, team, and company is different. They all have different needs, different ways of doing things, and different preferences. This is definitely one of those things you just have to try for yourself to see if it's going to work for you.

A PM tool has to do a lot of different things. It has to offer high-level insights for the people needing data to make decisions. But it also has to offer easy and convenient organization of (often dozens or more) projects and all the tasks that go on in support of them.

For my personal use, I've grown fond of ClickUp. I use it to track the status of my projects, my personal short-term and long-term goals, even my learning and home improvements. It has a really intuitive UI as well...I was up and running in a matter of minutes. It has Tons of features, but some of the ones that really stand out to me are their simple 3-tiered structure and their automatic blocking colorization.

In many tools I've used, navigating a project is a hassle. You may have to dig through layer after layer to find a single task you need to add notes to, and the folder structure can change depending on what state it's in...I always found it to be a nightmare. In ClickUp, they help you to avoid that by only having 3 tiers. This might sound limiting, but being kept within these bounds has honestly been great. I never have to dig far to find things, even if I created them months ago and forgot where I put them.

In any project, some tasks are going to block's unavoidable. But keeping track of which of the many tasks are blockers, and what they are blocking can be a chore. But in Clickup, you specify the dependency and it automatically adds colors to items that are blocking so it's really easy to see what the priority needs to management decisions required.

Maybe a full project management tool is too much for you as an individual. That's okay. Maybe a tool like this could help your team or entire company?! I know if my team wasn't already deeply entwined in another popular tool, ClickUp would make them all very happy.

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It wouldn't a web development tools list if we didnt include some browsers. We all know the big ones (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari). But lately, a lot of attention has been directed at some newer alternatives.

When I'm developing, I'm usually using Brave (but of course testing in all the other ones too...). Like so many browsers today, Brave is based on Chromium, but is focused on privacy. It "blocks the trackers & creepy ads on every website you visit". If you already use Chrome, Brave would not even be a stretch for you to switch to.

For personal use, I either use Duck Duck Go (DDG) or Firefox. I've been using DDG on iOS for a long time now, and Firefox when I wasn't on a mobile device. But about a year ago, DDG released a browser for MacOS and now I go back and forth between the two.

If you're a privacy focussed person, I highly recommend Duck Duck Go. I've been really happy with them for a long time now and will continue to use them for the forseeable future.

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Dev Tools

What kind of dev would I be if I didn't take the opportunity to dive into some developer tools while we're on the subject?!

Code Editor

Like so many of us, I too have adopted VSCode. But I'm also a long time Vim user, and have recently started playing around with Zed. I haven't dug into Zed deep enough to know if I'll make a full switch, but it's been a really good experience so far!


In VSCode, I've been using the Github Dark Default theme for a long time. In Vim, I use a custom theme I built a while ago called Breeze which is a fork of the Dracula theme.


Some people go a lot deeper into the extensions than I do, so my list will be pretty short. And since I know Vim is not the most popular tool out there, I'll just stick with the VSCode ones...

  • Better Comments - Really nice for adding some color highlighting to your comments.
  • Code Spell Checker - I consider this one a must have. It'll let you know if you misspell a word in something like a variable or function name.
  • Colorize - Great for visualizing the colors used in your css.
  • Integration - If you're like me and you find flowcharts super helpful...this brings them to your editor, and stores the flowchart code in your project!
  • Eslint - Like Mike Tyson, you don't have to ask who this celebrity is, or what it does.
  • GitHub Copilot - AI at your fingertips.
  • GitLens - Another must have. Bring git into your editor and see who last modified a line, and what the context was around the change.

There are a few others, but these are the biggies.


For the longest time, I only ever used the built in terminal that came with Mac. I played around with a few others, but always ended up coming back to the basic terminal...that was until I discovered Warp.

Warp is one of my favorite tools that I use today. It's super fast, allows you to split your window into multiple panes (something you used to have configure other tools like tmux to do), and comes with natural language AI baked in. Just tell the AI what you want to do, and it'll write the command for you...all without leaving your terminal.

But if you don't want to ditch your current terminal, that's okay. Before I found Warp, I had found another really cool tool called Fig.

Rather than completely replace your terminal, Fig is an add-on that intergrates with your existing one. It brings some pretty cool features, like sharing your terminal sessions, some pretty great autocomplete, and it too comes with AI built in! So if you don't make the switch to Warp, I would highly recommend checking out Fig to really enhance your existing terminal experience.

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There are so many other amazing tools I could talk about, but for the sake of time I'll just bring up 1 more...Polypane.

I discovered Polypane not too long ago, but it's already become an integral part of my dev process. There are so many tools built into this thing. The obvious is being able to see your website/app at different screen sizes all at once, and all synced up to the same session (you can even scroll them all together, perfectly in sync!). But with accessibility (A11y) and web quality testing built in, this really is a one stop tool that I cannot recommend enough!

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It seems like I'm hearing more and more about VPNs these days. Whether it's from people becoming more privacy focussed, companies locking their development environments down, or much more extreme government censorship, the topic is becoming more common in casual conversation. And there are a lot of them out there...but depending on your situation, picking the right one can have a very significant impact on your life.

When I was looking for a VPN, I had 2 main concerns...E2E encryption, and no logs being stored. I bounced around between a couple differents options, but finally landed on Proton VPN. Part of the same suite of products mentioned in the Email section above, it comes with security and privacy top of mind. Your data flows through an encrypted VPN tunnel, meaning your protected even over "unsafe" connections, they don't log any user behavior, and, as mentioned above, your privacy is protected by some of the strictest privacy laws on the planet.

I really have nothing bad to say about Proton, and if you need a VPN, I'd recommend this one for sure.

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How do you learn about new stuff?

As you can see, I like to discover new tools in the hopes that one or two will make my life better/easier. But finding them can sometimes be a challenge. So in addition to the tools I use, I thought I might also share how I find them.

One of the easiest ways to discover new stuff is just by listening to development related podcasts. 2 incredibly popular ones are Syntax and JS Party, and I would encourage everyone to check them out! The hosts are really entertaining, knowledgeable, and very easy to listen to for long periods of dry, monotone, college professor lectures here!

If you have time to fit reading into your schedule, a few good sources are obviously here on You can find some really good info here, and this isn't the first or last post on tools I'm sure. There are really great books out there as well. I just finished "Measure What Matters" by John Doerr and would highly recommend it. Lastly, there's a great browser extension/add-on called that I really enjoy. If you add that as your homepage, every time you open a new tab, you'll see a handful of articles that may allow you to discover new stuff as well.

Lastly, just talk to people. Ask co-workers and collegues what tools they're currently using. Go to conferences or meet ups and talk with people there (pro tip: a lot of devs Love talking about their toolset and it can be a great ice breaker!). There are also tons of Slack channels, Discord servers, people to follow on Twitter, and other online communities that you can join. Even if you don't feel comfortable talking, you can often pick up really helpful tips there!

Well that's it. I hope you found at least 1 or 2 of these tools helpful or interesting and that may make your life as a web developer just a little bit better. I would love to hear what tools you're using as well, so feel free to share them in the comments below!

Until next time, thanks for reading, and Happy Hacking!

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