Laracasts Uses...

Published December 09, 2019

I often joke that, at my funeral, someone will ask, "Which syntax theme did he use?" Pick any Laracasts lesson and you’re bound to find at least one comment that ignores the subject matter of the video entirely, and instead focuses on what’s most important to us all: what theme and font is that?

I’ve put this off for long enough. Following in the footsteps of many developers before me, here’s an exhaustive list of all the tools I use in my daily workflow.

Office Setup

  • iMac 5K 27" - Late 2015 Model

    This has been my primary workstation for a number of years now. Though Apple has released numerous hardware updates since 2015, I honestly can’t justify the upgrade (famous last words). For the work I do, this iMac is blazing fast.

  • Apple Magic Keyboard (Black)

    If I had my way, this keyboard would offer 20% more travel. But, other than that, it’s the best keyboard I’ve used. And, though I can’t justify thousands of dollars for an iMac Pro, at least I’ve smuggled a small piece of that gorgeous black onto my desk.

  • Magic Mouse

    I spent many years exclusively using the trackpad of my laptop. Why bother with a mouse? Yo, it’s not the 1990s! And then I, on a whim, tried a traditional mouse again. Oh how I’ve missed you. I can’t say that the Magic Mouse is the most ergonomic - by a long stretch - of the available choices, but, hey, it does its job just fine. I’ve no complaints.

  • Macbook Pro 13" 2.5GHz - 2017 Model

    When I’m traveling or not using my primary workstation, my 2017 MacBook Pro is, sadly, my backup. I wish I could say I love and recommend it, but I can’t. I hate it. It’s sluggish with a keyboard that makes me rage. How did this happen?

    I’m happy to see Apple course-correcting with the newest 2019+ models, but, until my inevitable upgrade, I remain bitter.

  • Anthrodesk Adjustable Standing and Karlby Walnut Countertop

    Programmers spend a disproportionate percentage of each day sitting. As we all know, this can have dramatic effects on energy levels and back-pain (not to mention eye-strain). To circumvent this issue, a couple of years ago, I switched to a standing desk. This particular model includes a motorized lift that allows me to switch between sitting and standing position within seconds.

    The Anthrodesk doesn’t include the table-top base, so I’ve opted for an Ikea walnut countertop. I wish its depth was 20% wider, but I’ll manage.

Development

  • PHPStorm

    A year ago, I came to the conclusion that I could no longer ignore the power of PHPStorm. While the majority of my coding was spent using lightning fast code editors like Vim and Sublime Text, the truth is that PHPStorm has finally matured to the point that I’m far more efficient in it - even after deducting a few points for being understandably slower than its less-ambitious alternatives.

    I do, however, prefer that my code editor is as "clear of clutter" as possible. With this in mind, I hide or disable most of PHPStorm’s default buttons and panels.

  • Sublime Text

    Not every coding task requires that I fire up PHPStorm. I’ve reached a nice workflow that combines PHPStorm and Sublime Text to harness the best of both worlds. For quicker edits to codebases that I’m incredibly familiar with, I still prefer the speed of Sublime Text.

  • Nord Syntax Theme

    Nord is an "arctic, north-bluish color scheme" that I’ve been using for a number of months now, after seeing it featured on Laravel News. Honestly, at this point I’m not sure I’ll ever find the perfect syntax theme, but this one will do for now.

  • Cascadia Code

    
Monospaced fonts are much like syntax themes. "This next font will be the one that sticks." While I’ve been faithful to Menlo for many years, I’ve recently been enjoying Cascadia Code.

    
Heads up that, in PHPStorm, the boldness of the font is a bit too much for my eyes. This seems to be unique to the editor’s anti-aliasing, because Sublime Text does not suffer from this issue. I was able to solve the problem by changing the Appearance & Behavior -> Appearance antialiasing strategy from "Subpixel" to "Greyscale."

  • Firefox

    A decade ago, Firefox and Firebug (developer tools extension) were the development tools of choice. …And then Google Chrome was released. Fast-forward to today, however, and preferences seem to be reversing once again. I and many others have now switched back to Firefox, thanks to its drastically improved and friendly development tools.

  • Table Plus

    Up until recently, I used Sequel Pro exclusively for my database management needs. Unfortunately, development seems to have stalled more than I’d like. After months of a rage-inducing bug that would exit the app each time you close a tab, I gave up, pulled up my sleeves, and researched a replacement. That replacement is Table Plus. Though I’m still retraining my muscle-memory, I’m happy I made the switch.

  • iTerm 2

    I’m fairly certain that I don’t use 10% percent of iTerm’s available features, but that’s okay. It’s clean and fast. If you’ve watched a lesson here at Laracasts, you’ll know that I bind iTerm to the tilde (~) key for instant toggling. Love it.

  • Homebrew

    If it can be installed through Homebrew, then I’m installing it through Homebrew. And that’s all I have to say about that.

  • Frank Deloupe

    For the times when I quickly need to grab the hex value for a color, I use a Mac utility app called Frank Deloupe. There’s no shortage of little tools like this, so pick the one that works best for your needs.

Hosting

  • Laravel Forge

    I don’t enjoy building up servers and editing nginx files. I find it confusing and tedious. As such, I’m more than happy to offload this work entirely to Laravel Forge.

  • Digital Ocean

    All of my projects run on Digital Ocean. I can’t recommend it enough. Even better, its documentation and tutorial offerings are second to none.

  • Cloudflare

    I use Cloudflare to optimize the performance of Laracasts in a variety of ways. Some of it, I understand. And some of it is like black magic. Tick a checkbox and suddenly mobile rendering speeds improve by 50%. I’ll take it!

  • Hover

    For many years now, Hover has been my preferred source for new domain purchases. It's incredibly convenient to have a single entry-point for every domain you own.

Team Workflow

  • Trello

    The true value of Trello didn’t click until I began working with a team of people. By myself, Trello is an appealing workflow that I’d quickly abandon after a week or two. As part of a team, however, it’s a vital component of my daily structure. We use it to signal our progress on a variety of important projects.

  • Marvel

    When working with my UX designer, Adrian, we use Marvel extensively for basic wire-framing and prototypes. It allows me to first review how a website feels before writing a single line of HTML.

  • Zeplin

    Once we’ve agreed on a new design, Adrian hands it off to me via Zeplin. With this application, I can instantly grab the relevant SVGs and CSS with the click of a button. I can’t tell you how much time this saves, when compared to the old days of manually slicing up a Photoshop file.

Focus

  • TickTick

    When reviewing task management apps, you’ll surely find countless references to Todoist and Things. I’ve used and can recommend both; however, these days, TickTick is my go-to app of choice. Since switching, I’ve lost the desire to research alternatives (something I’d been doing for years).

    My life does not work without this application. From family activities to important work deadlines and tasks, everything is filtered through TickTick. My day begins with a review of the "today" tab, and concludes by checking off the final task for the day.

  • Alfred

    I’ve been a faithful user of Alfred for many years now. option + space is locked into my muscle memory. Whether quickly opening a browser, or inserting a snippet, or putting my laptop to sleep, Alfred is the tool I use.

  • Bear

    For general brainstorming and "thought-dumping," I reach for Bear. Though you can certainly use the notes app that ships with Mac OS, Bear offers a cleaner GUI with Markdown support.

  • Fastmail

    In a recent effort to reduce my reliance on various Google services, I’ve abandoned Gmail in favor of Fastmail. Though not free, I’ve been quite happy with it.

  • Firefox Password Management

    Until recently, I used 1Password exclusively for password management. I’ve since switched to the default password manager that’s included with Firefox. I’m told this isn’t a smart idea, but oh well. It works.

Screencasting

  • Screenflow

    For many years now, I’ve used Screenflow for all Laracasts screencasts. Again, I’m sure there are more sophisticated options available. For my needs, it works great. It’s not without a few bugs here and there, but I’d still recommend it whole-heartedly.

  • Shure SM7B with a Fethead preamp

    I recently upgraded to the Shure SM7B from my Rode NTG-2. Though it requires a bit more equipment, I think the improved audio quality was worth the effort.

  • Focusrite 2i2

    Unlike simpler USB-based mics, the SM7B requires an audio interface to convert the signal for your computer. If your only requirement is to record basic dialog, keep it simple with something like this (rather than spending thousands of dollars on a fancier solution).

  • Heil PL-2T

    I, no joke, ran Laracasts for many years by balancing a USB mic on a stack of books while I recorded. Ridiculous, and yet, it did the trick just fine. But, yes, be smarter than me and spend $100 on a decent boom mic stand. The Heil PL-2T took less than five minutes to install and works perfectly.

  • Auphonic

    For the Laracasts Snippet podcast, I still record and edit in Screenflow - if only because the various keyboard shortcuts are ingrained into my fingers. Once edited, I send the audio through a post production web service called Auphonic.

  • Simplecast

    There’s no shortage of podcast management services at this point, but I’ve been happy with Simplecast since the beginning.

  • Vimeo

    Vimeo has provided the video platform for Laracasts since the beginning. It’s an order of magnitude cheaper than every alternative I’ve considered.

Business

  • Stripe

    Every Laracasts charge is piped through Stripe’s billing API, and I’d have it no other way. In exchange for a small percentage of each sale, I’m able to offload the incredibly complicated subscription management to Stripe.

  • ADP

    I use ADP for the Laracasts payroll, but can’t recommend it. We’ve stuck with them over the years due to sheer laziness. One day, we’ll migrate to a more modern-feeling platform.

  • Maher & Company

    I enjoy writing code and teaching, but there’s more to the puzzle of running a business, unfortunately. For bookkeeping and tax planning, I offload as much as possible to my accountants at Maher & Company. Some advice to future small business-owners: get yourself a good accountant sooner than later. They’re worth their weight in gold.

  • Basic Email Support

    If, at some point in the future, I hire customer service reps for Laracasts, I will reach for a dedicated support platform. However, as it’s currently only me answering questions, basic email and tagging works just fine and dandy. Keep it simple.

  • Campaign Monitor

    Though I rarely send out email newsletters, when I need to, I reach for Campaign Monitor.

  • Postmark

    For transaction-related emails, I’ve tried a number of services over the years. Though not the cheapest, Postmark is the first service that I rarely have to think about it. It just works. No unexplainable email bouncing or rejections.