Tools of 2020

2020-12-26 3 min read

    Despite not being in the code too much these days I still spend a significant amount of time on the computer so thought it would be fun to share my commonly used tools. Maybe there’s something here you’re not familiar with and it might be enough to encourage you to give it a shot.


    For the first half of the year I used Ubuntu on a ThinkPad X1 but switched back to a Macbook (Early 2019 Pro) due to a variety of stability issues. The keyboard isn’t as nice but I’m overall more productive and glad to have the Microsoft Office suite back.


    Is it even possible to do any work without browsers these days? This year I stopped using Brave and decided to lean in to Firefox as the truly free and open source alternative. At the same time, Chrome does many things well so as a result I use Chrome for work and Firefox for personal use. I’ve toyed with using Chrome for both but it got annoying with the credential and auto-complete functionality.


    Most of these are pretty standard - ranging from Google Suite to Jira and Confluence to the occasional Excel. We’ve also started using Monday to help with project management but I’m still on Trello for my personal todos. The newest tools I’ve picked up this year are Obsidian for note-taking and Dashlane as a password manager. Both of these additions have been great and I plan to continue using them in 2021.


    I still dabble in the occasional code and for scripting I’ve embraced VS Code (along with the wonderful Tabnine plugin). It’s lightweight and has a variety of plugins that make it very easy to just code. For more significant work, primarily in Java, I’ll switch to IntelliJ which has a much stronger ecosystem for JVM development. This may not qualify as coding but I spent a fair amount of time writing queries and for those I’ve been using DataGrip. I actually prefer some of the simpler database tools (for example SequelPro) but it’s hard to beat DataGrip for mutli-database support.


    This guide wouldn’t be complete in 2020 without a dedicated working remotely session. This year I invested in a decent work from home setup and have scoured a variety of guides but found the one by Ben Kuhn to be the most helpful. Based on his recommendations I got a wired headset, a microphone, a gooseneck phone holder, and have been using my phone (iPhone 11) as a webcam using the Camo app. In terms of actual video chat software I’m a happy Zoom user.