Tools of the trade

Every web developer uses his/her set of preferred tools. Here’s mine:

  • Text editor: SublimeText 2, because it loads fast and I swear by its open by file name feature
  • Computer: MacBook Air 13″, a decent screen size with good portability. I like working at cafés and this gadget fits my lifestyle.
  • Browser: Chrome 18 or 19. I lost track of Chrome’s version, comes with Chrome is the excellent debugger I cannot live without.
  • CSS generator: Less, because Less can be compiled by JavaScript on the client side. It’s easy to get started developing.
  • Database engine: MySQL InnoDB.
  • Database browser: Sequel Pro, never found a replacement for this. I’ve been using this for 3 years, by far the best.
  • Revision control: Git or SVN. My vote is to Git but my company is still on SVN.
  • Image editor: Photoshop. Embarrassingly I am one of those that will just launch Photoshop to make PNGs with alpha-transparency. There are probably better tools out there but I can’t get used to them.
  • Programming languages: PHP for web development. JavaScript or Ruby on scripting automation. I still use Expect for a bunch of server-side tasks, I cannot move away from that still.
  • Web server: Apache for development. It’s all because of PHP’s xdebug. My colleagues use .htaccess often too. I use nginx for production usually.
  • Load profiling: Seige, it’s simple and reliable.

Other tools include:

  • LiveReload 2 has been extremely convenient and it has been part of my workflow for months. I never looked back.
  • Bash alias lets me quickly navigate through the trenches of my messy directories. I also use it to pull for Git quickly.

How to let PHP send emails

PHP not sending emails? You need a mail transfer agent (MTA). If you’re in the Ubuntu platform, you can use postfix for this:

[code lang=”bash”]sudo apt-get install postfix[/code]

You can read on more information here.

Previously my Contact Form 7 WordPress plugin didn’t work, it works fine after I install and configured postfix. I can’t go through the specifics of the configuration with you since yours would probably differ. I selected “Internet Site” and press the return key (Enter) all the way selecting the default options. On doing so, Contact Form 7 starts to work already.

Should you need to configure postfix again, you can reconfigure too:

[code lang=”bash”]sudo dpkg-reconfigure postfix[/code]

Contact Form 7 uses WP_Mail which uses PHP’s mail() function. If you do need to troubleshoot, try sending emails with mail().

If you need additional configuration, you may need to update the following:

  • Settings SMTP and smtp_port need to be set in your php.ini
  • Also, either set the sendmail_from setting in php.ini, or pass it as an additional header.

I did not have to configure anything more than postfix. I am using Ubuntu server, on nginx web server.