iOS Dev Setup: Essential (to me) apps and utilities

A short(ish) and sweet list of applications that I use on a regular basis for iOS development and regular life. I’m open to trying new or alternative applications as I come across them, but have found that these are the apps that I continue to rely upon to create an efficient and effective work environment.

This post is part of an ongoing series on setting up an iOS development environment.
  • Alfred — Alfred is a productivity app for MacOS that streamlines app launching, searching, hot keys and text expansion (free, upgradable for Powerpack)
  • AppCleaner — Utility for cleanly and safely removing Mac applications completely. Essential if you don’t want to have to hunt down leftover files in your Library (free)
  • CarbonCopy Cloner — Part of my BDR strategy, CCC can create a regularly scheduled bootable clone of your hard drive. This means that if your computer dies or disappears, you can boot up a hard drive and get right back to work. I consider this absolutely essential for being prepared for emergencies and worst-case scenarios. ($40, 30-day free trial)
  • Charles Proxy — Very useful utility for watching network calls and responses. (free trial, $50 for single user)
  • CheatSheet — A small utility that shows you keyboard shortcuts for most MacOS apps.
  • Dashlane — There are several excellent password managers out there, but my preference is for Dashlane. While they have a free version, I’ve found the paid to be worthwhile. Features like the auto-password updater, form-filling, receipt capture, private notes and secure sharing make Dashlane stand out. (free, $40/year for premium)
  • Dropbox — Another piece in my BDR strategy, Dropbox with revisions allows you to easily and securely access your files, share with others, and find a previous copy of a file. (pricing varies by options)
  • Evernote — I use Evernote for…pretty much everything that I can. The web clipper is incredibly useful for capturing articles, bookmarking websites, grabbing PDFs. Fast and smooth syncing between devices and platforms, offline notebooks, tags and robust searching make this one of my must-have apps. There are 3 different pricing plans, all with different levels of features. (free, $35/year, $70/year)
  • ExifRenamer — This is a tiny little utility that allows you to quickly and easily rename your photo files based on the EXIF data. I use Dropbox to upload all of my photos from my devices, then rename with this utility before sorting into folders based by subject or event. (free)
  • FileZilla — Not fancy, but robust and easy to use, FileZilla is an FTP client that makes file transfer simple. (free)
  • GIMP — A ‘not as fancy but gets the job done’ free alternative to Photoshop. (free)
  • giphyCapture — I use this app daily to capture GIFs of new features that I’m working on. Simple to use, but with options to edit GIFs, save in different sizes and compress. (free)
  • iTerm — A robust upgrade for MacOS’s built-in Terminal, iTerm offers features such as searching, split panes, and a ton of preference and settings options. (free)
  • Jazzy — This Ruby gem allows users to generate documentation a la Apple’s documentation for their project. See the project page for details (free)
  • LittleIpsum — A little bitty utility to generate just the right amount of Lorem Ipsum text for your needs. Very helpful when you are first laying out a view. (free)
  • MacDown — If you write in Markdown very often, this app make you smile. It’s an open source Markdown editor that displays your literal text next to a preview of the same text. (free)
  • MacDropAny — A utility that expands the syncing options of services like Dropbox and GoogleDrive. Especially useful for backing up only select files to your cloud service. (free)
  • Network Link Conditioner — NLC is a super-useful tool that allows you to simulate different network conditions, so you can make sure your app is prepared to handle various states. (free)
  • Objective-Clean — Clean code ftw! Objective-Clean is a utility that works within Xcode to make sure that your code style is clean and consistent. You make up the style guide, and Objective-Clean shows a warning when the code is not in compliance. The style requirements can also be shared across teams! Also available for Swift. (free trial, $9.99 in Mac store or directly)
  • Postman — Useful for sharing, editing and testing APIs. (free, $8 for Pro version)
  • Rocket — This is a tiny utility that lets you access MacOS’s emoji keyboard using a designated key. I use ‘;’ to trigger the emoji lookup. It works just like Slack’s in-app ‘:’ feature. (free)
  • Sip — A useful utility for picking colors, and translating them to Swift or Objective-C context. Also see Skala for more color options. (free)
  • Skala Color — An extremely useful color picker and tweaker for MacOS. I tend to rely on this more than Sip, as it’s integrated in the the Mac system color picker. (free)
  • Sketch — If you are involved in the UX of your iOS apps, Sketch is the preferred tool for design. Similar in many ways to other graphic design applications, Sketch was specifically created for modern web and mobile app design. ($99)
  • Slack — I prefer the web version of Slack, personally. Each of my primary Slack groups in pinned in Chrome so I can keep an eye on notifications for each. SlackThemes is great for customizing the look, and SlackHelper is a neat little tool that removes old image files to keep your free Slack under quota.
  • Sublime Text — My text editor of choice. Themes, extensions, speed, flexibility and multiple other features keep me loyal. There are other perfectly adequate editors out there, but Sublime has been, and continues to be my favorite. (free trial, $70)
  • Synx — This Ruby gem keeps your system file structure and Xcode project or workspace file structure in sync. Use with caution in a complex or multi-developer project. (free)
  • Tower — While I do a good deal of my git work on the command line, I also like to have Tower running alongside. Features like cherry-picking lines of code to commit or discard, easy diff and excellent visuals for commit history make it a favorite. (free 30-day trial, $79)
  • Xcode — Obvious, but essential. I’ll have a later post about my Xcode tweaks. (free)
  • Zeplin — Getting redlines/comps/specs in Zeplin is a wondrous thing. Designers are able to directly export designs from Sketch to Zeplin, and immediately share with developers. In addition to having useful dimensions on the redlines, all of the colors and assets are contained within Zeplin, ready for download. No more searching through multiple folders to find the redlines, assets and wireframes. Users can also add notes directly to the views to detail behavior, or ask questions. (various)
  • Zoom — My preferred application for video conferencing and screen sharing. Free accounts can conference for up to 40 minutes at a time, with a group of 50 or less. Paid accounts allow more attendees, recording and longer conference times. (free, various)