While I wish I could write all software myself, I like to share a few services that greatly simplify my life and on which I gladly rely on.
As developers we are always tempted to write all software yourselves, to be in control, instead of depending on other. But there are many software products out there, that can help us making our lives so much easier. You can get incredible value for your money and if you let others take care of some things you need to rely on, you can focus and spend your time working on what you care about the most.
In this post I like to share my favorite services, which I use on a daily basis for, both, work and personal tasks. I’m happy to hear about services that are invaluable to you and about your thoughts on relying on others for software services. Just talk to me on Twitter.
(three of the links are referral links)
If you need to create static websites, Netlify is an amazing service to use.
The free tier has probably everything you ever need. You get free SSL (that means HTTPS).
Your users will be happy that your site loads so fast since all pages are automatically served using a CDN.
You link Netlify directly to a GitHub repository, which allows you to change your website with a simple
I even use Netlify as DNS to be able to server apex domains from CDN.
DigitalOcean is a great place to get an VPS for when static pages are not enough and you need to run your custom code. Configuring your own server gives you a lot of flexibility and is cheaper than using a PAAS like Heroku. It doesn’t take much work to get your server ready for production. You can simply add the software you like to run as services using systemd. DigitalOcean gives you a firewall, monitoring & alerting, backups and much more out of the box. Their UI is simple to use and you can get started much quicker than using a big cloud provider such as Amazon or Google.
When you have an online service, you need to know that it is still up and running. The easiest way I found to do this is using UptimeRobot. They provide a free service to check the uptime of your site in 5 minute intervals, they send you emails when something goes wrong and you even get a nice shareable dashboard.
If you work in a team or even alone, Trello can be incredible helpful to organize a project. The best thing about Trello is how flexible it is and in how many ways you can use it.
While Trello is great to track everything related to a certain project, I still need a different tool to track my personal agenda. Todoist helps me to know, what I have to do every single day. I use it in a way other people might use a calendar. I basically create every task assigned to a date on which I will be working on that task. I also use it to track meetings and recurring events - such as birthdays. It completely replaced my calendar, although I sometimes use a calendar to rearrange my task.
Some cards in Trello are tasks of which I need to take care of. IFTTT is an amazing service, that allows you to integrate everything with everything. It allows me to automatically create a task in Todoist for every card in Trello and every issue on GitHub, that is assigned to me. I also use IFTTT for many other things: I automatically backup my tweets and my Spotify library to a Spreadsheet in Google Docs and I use it to subscribe to RSS feeds and YouTube channels. Zapier is another great alternative to create workflows more advanced than possible with IFTTT, but it is rather pricey to use for personal projects.
I guess most people know, that they should be using a password manager to generate secure passwords and also remember them. 1Password is not the cheapest option and there are also many self-hosted alternatives, but 1Password provides a really seamless user experience and since this is a really critical part of my digital life, I am really glad, that not have to take care of it myself. Logging into a website has become a single keyboard shortcut and I have a single place, where I see all the services I signed up online.
I like to have all other data, that is not as sensitive as passwords, simply on my computer’s hard drive. But I also like to keep them safe without bothering about doing backups. Dropbox is the most popular service to help you with this, but I use Sync.com, because the provide the same features for a better price and they use more secure encryption to do so. I like that I can access all my files also on my phone, it is nice to be able to share files and folders with other people and I can even store some big files in my “cloud vault” to safe some disk space on my SSD.
One more service I’m happy to pay money for is Tunnelbear, which is the VPN with the best user experience that I have seen so far. I like to have a VPN to use public WiFi without worrying. I also use it on my phone, which is easy since Tunnelbear also provides a mobile app. Another reason why I think it is worth paying for a VPN is to not let governments restrict or monitor your Internet usage, which is especially an issue when traveling to countries with less open governments than your home country.