James Simpson by James
Simpson

January 13, 2012







Favorite Web Apps of 2011

2011 was definitely a year of learning and trying new things. In that spirit, I tried many new web apps/services and here is the list of the ones that stuck and have helped propel me into what should be a great 2012. This list is in alphabetical order, I love all of these startups equally!

Favorite Web Apps of 2011

Beanstalk - Private Git repos and deployment
Github is the obvious choice for hosted git repositories, but it is aimed more at the open source crowd. So, for my private code, I turned to this gorgeous web app, Beanstalk, by the geniuses at Wildbit. Not only does Beanstalk have a wonderful UI (by the end of this post you'll realize this is an important criteria for me), but it has all the features you would expect from other providers, plus an amazing deployment feature included for free. Get 10% off your first month by clicking here.

BrowserStack - The best cross-browser testing around
This web app is incredible, what more can I say? I can't count the number of hours saved by using this app. I can now test my web designs on virtually any browser from within any browser I choose. I no longer have to leave the safe harbor of my Macbook Pro to test Internet Explorer. I no longer have to fire up virtual machines just to open a dated browser. I also don't even have to upload my files to the web to test in different browsers thanks to their ingenious tunneling feature.

Cloud9 - Code editing in the cloud
I haven't gotten to use this app as much as I would like, but I did do all of the development for miniTip within this stunning cloud-based IDE. It hooks right into GitHub, which makes editing open-source projects extremely easy, no matter what computer or device you are using. The editor is surprisingly feature-rich, and even comes with a shell to do all of the behind-the-scenes work.

CloudFlare - Free CDN/Security service
CloudFlare is a very interesting idea, and it has seemingly caught fire over the last six months with explosive growth to billions of page views served monthly. I'm now using CloudFlare with all of my websites to handle the DNS, CDN, SSL and even an extra layer of security. They have an amazing team working on an amazing product, and I've seen impressive improvement over the last year.

Feedly - RSS feed reader
Feedy has been my RSS reader of choice for at least the past year. I've tried a lot of different RSS readers, including some nice desktop-based ones, but I always find myself coming back to Feedly. You can access Feedly pretty much anywhere (even on your iPhone/Android with their great new iPhone and Android apps). It also hooks into Google Reader, so you don't have to worry about lock-in. Feedly organizes your feed content into a "magazine" format that can save you a lot of time, though I tend to default to the full list of articles anyway.

Ge.tt - Super easy file sharing
Dropbox is a great service, but sometimes it is more than you need, and if the other person doesn't have a Dropbox account, it isn't quite as simple. Ge.tt does web-based file-sharing right. If you know me, you know I love simplicity, and I don't think file sharing could be done anymore simply. With Ge.tt, you can easily upload any type of file, without making an account, and share it to anyone else by providing a URL. However, what's really cool about this product is that the other person can start downloading the file before it has finished uploading!

Github - Open source code management
Github is to open source code management as to Beanstalk is to closed-source code management. I had never done any work on open-source code until this past summer, and that is the first time I seriously looked into Github. Since then, I've been hooked. The social and collaborative aspects of Github are top-notch, and I've actually enjoyed using their product (if you can achieve that you know you are doing something right). I also love the fact that Github was completely bootstrapped. Bootstrappers FTW!

Polldaddy - Polls, surveys, etc.
There are a lot of different startups doing surveys, polls, etc, but I haven't seen any that do them all in one easy-to-use package. I've used Polldaddy for simple polls, complex surveys, and everything in-between. It has been an invaluable resource in 2011, and as their product offering expands, I'm sure to see more use out of it in 2012. It is also worth noting that all of this is wrapped up in a very nice package.

RescueTime - The only productivity app you need
When I first heard about RescueTime I was skeptical, but I can honestly say after using it for the past year that I don't know how I could get any work done without it. The concept sounds sort of creepy (it is actually really cool though) as it uses an app on your machine to track everything you do on your computer. It then assigns productivity scores to those actions, and gives you a score for each day/week with lots of fancy stats, charts and reports to help you figure out what is zapping your productivity, and to politely nudge you back on course. If you are feeling generous, this is my referral link.

Spotify - Unlimited, free music
I love my Pandora, but I can honestly say that I haven't opened it nearly as often since Spotify came to town. This one is sort of an edge-case since it isn't really a web-app, but they do have a website, so that counts…right? To be honest, their desktop app isn't all that great, but who can argue with unlimited, legal and free music? I love listening to movie soundtracks while I program (Social Network soundtrack anyone?), and Spotify is the easiest way I know to pull up a full soundtrack and listen immediately while working. The ads can be annoying while working though, so the monthly subscription might be worth the investment.

Stripe - Easy, gorgeous credit card processing
And lastly, but definitely not least, is Stripe. First let me just say that Stripe has one of the most gorgeous web interfaces I have ever used. I'm actually excited to get on the website every day because it is fun to use. Yes, you heard that right, a credit card processor is actually fun to use! Not only is the interface stunning, but the API is even more stunningly easy to use. I had constant problems with my old credit card processor (they shall not be named), and I was up and running on Stripe (with live code installed) in under an hour. I've had no problems with Stripe, and I have nothing but good things to say about this up-and-coming startup.

DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with any of these startups. I am not an investor in any of these startups. I'm simply a happy customer of all of these startups.




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