My Top Software Tools from 2017

Here are the software tools I found the most helpful or were my favorite to use in 2017.



Get Guru today for your company! Yes I am now a walking advertisement for guru. It’s a super simple product — a chrome extension that provides a shared internal, easily-accessible knowledge base — and it is crucial for information sharing at CodeHS.


We hook up our database to looker and can generate all sorts of custom reports and scheduled emails. It’s a key tool we use and I highly recommend it. Normally business intelligence tools are used by larger companies but we find it very helpful for tracking our metrics.


Intercom has been a key tool for us for customer support, knowledge base, newsletters, and customer communication. It’s an easy to use platform and they are always making the product better. I think Intercom has some of the best product development and customer communication of any app we buy.


We use Blogin for our internal company blog and people have found it really helpful. It replaced a project updates email list and it is easy to categorize posts and keep as a record of product and company updates.

Google Keep

Thanks to a key rec from my friend Daniel, I am now a Google Keep super user and promoter. It’s a lightweight notes app, synced across devices, and works on web, mobile, and you can bundle it as a desktop app with Fluid. It easily does notes, lists, images, and drawings and labels. I use it for everything now. It can still improve a lot but it’s worked for me better than the other notes apps I had tried before. It also replaced many emails to myself with notes.


Expo is an app + toolchain to make it easier to develop React Native apps. We partnered with Expo at CodeHS and it’s also a slick technology that just makes mobile apps easier to write. It has also allowed us to teach students to easily make cross-platform native apps which we have wanted to do for a while.


Google Keep

Google Keep also makes the list for personal software. I use it for todos, for notes, for ideas, for trips. Labels makes it really easy to split things up.


I use Guru personally just to store random information that you want easily accessible at random times (think something like a frequent flyer number, or a particular address). Instead of having all that info stored in different places, I can easily make a guru card with the title and have it easily accessible. Tip: Use Chrome profiles to make sure you split up work + personal.

Google Maps

Google Maps is just awesome software. As I’ve been traveling it’s been key to use and they just really do a good job. It is a little freaky that they store everywhere you have ever been ever. The software is top notch, though. It’s good for walking, driving, travel, saving places and sharing locations. One major use case I’d really like to see improved is exploring locations around multiple points. They’ve tried this but really haven’t gotten it right. You can use explore around a single point, but you often want to explore among two points. For example, I’m starting here, and I’m going there — and I want to find a place on the way. This use case isn’t supported well. They also on mobile should support “tabs” or ways to keep one search or many search results open while doing another. This is really helpful for traveling. But really amazing software — thank you Google Maps team!


I think I was slow to come around on this one after being persuaded by my friend Evan, but I do think Messenger is the best messaging app. Messages for iPhone has gotten better and integrated some of those features but it’s not there yet. Messenger needs to remove stories. However, for traveling, splitting up the messenger app, and making it easy to add a contact via a QR code has been extremely helpful. They just need to make that feature accessible in two taps from the photo, not three. Messenger has become a lot better as it has improved for messages (works easily just with wifi), phone calls (often higher quality than the native phone app), and started to build more experimental features. You can tell that all the US apps are racing to build the messaging experience of WeChat in China and have all been unable to do so so far. However, Messenger is getting the closest at the moment.


The Waves platform app has been the easiest app so far to use cryptocurrencies on mobile for people who are very new to it. I can set people up with a new wallet and private key and send them custom coins in just a few minutes. It’s the closest I’ve found at the moment to being like a Venmo for custom cryptocoins. The app still needs a lot of work but it’s the best I’ve seen so far.


Did anything make the list for both?

Google Keep. I use this for work and personal. I take tons of notes and it lets me easily label and search them.

Guru. Guru is definitely a work tool. I may be their only user who paid for a personal account. But it’s much better than searching a filesystem or gdrive for quickly needed information.

What were your top software tools of 2017? What do you think? Respond or clap below.