Design and Development Setup

For the longest time, I've been intrigued by how other designers/developers work and the tools they use. Whether this is purely voyeuristic or due to my fear of missing out, I genuinely don't know. That being said, the feeling seems to be mutual amongst other people that I meet and as a result, I thought I'd throw this post together that documents what I use and how I use it for anyone interested.

The flavour of the week seems to be which tool is used for designing at the moment. Sketch, InVision, Figma or the seemingly now defunct Photoshop argument seems to be raging and I genuinely find myself interested in what the community uses daily to complete their tasks.

This is sometimes taken further, however. The long-running discussions about email apps, IDE's and other daily use applications is one that I enjoy to join in with. My magpie-like nature of trying out new applications and trying to find that empowering (yet impossible to find) "perfect setup" has never really ceased.

With all this said, I find that I receive a lot of questions about what software/setup use on a day to day basis and I thought it made sense to document it all. Now, I'm first going to preface this list by saying that all the apps I mention below are my personal choices based on using them for extended periods of time and finding that they suit me and my style of working.

Your mileage may vary, but I would definitely recommend checking out these apps if you haven't before.

Design Tools

  • I design almost exclusively in Sketch.

Development + Editor

  • Atom VS Code running Fira Code with my Purrp! theme (more information here) and a selection of plugins. I run both the release version of VSC alongside the Insiders version and i try to use the Insiders version as my goto IDE unless something in an update breaks it. Life after Atom seems pretty good 🙌
  • Sequel Pro Table Plus for all things databases.
  • Local dev environments delivered by MAMP the fantastic Laravel Valet.
  • Recently i made the jump over to the Hyper terminal.
  • Since i can remember, i've used Transmit as my FTP/SFTP desktop client.


  • Slack. Need i say more.
  • Spark is my email client of choice. There's so many out there, but Spark does everything i need and more.
  • I used to be a heavy user of Skype for my remote meetings and video conferencing, but for the past couple of years, me and Zoom have been very happy together.


  • I think it's pretty much a given that Spotify is the goto for music, I previously subscribed Google Play which in turn gave me access to YouTube premium however, the streaming quality isn't as good as Spotify.
  • As a heavy listener of podcasts, my weapon of choice on that front is PocketCasts. With cross platform applications and support, plus a great UI and accurate suggestions system, i can't see this changing anytime soon.
  • All of my media (music, TV and movies) is controlled by Plex.
  • RSS is still near and dear to me, even since the unfortunate demise of the brilliant Google Reader. Since then, RSS has taken a different shape and my reader/aggregator of choice is the pretty sweet Feedly.
  • I use Pocket for articles that i want to save or read later.


  • I use Alfred and a whole batch of workflows to make my day a hell of a lot easier. Previously, i've used TextExpander as a way quickly responding, code snippets and the all important gif reactions... Since Alfred (with the PowerPack) has the same functionality built in, i dropped TextExpander in favour of the Alfred solution.
  • Trello pretty much runs my life. Whether it's client work, personal projects, home/life tasks or basically anything that i need to keep a track of and in communication with someone about, Trello is my goto.


  • Spectacle is one of my all-time favourite applications that allows you to control the size and placement of all windows with easy key commands.
  • Bartender helps me keep my menu bar nice and tidy as i have a lot of apps that come with menu bar functionality.
  • I'm a sucker for a clean and organised Desktop and Declutter helps me out when i'm being super lazy busy.
  • Rocket is a great little Mac app that replaces the built in emoji keyboard of your mac and allows you to easily drop emoji's in any app you want them in 👍


Weirdly, i also get asked what i use for this website in terms of CMS, frameworks etc... Over the past couple of years, i've been loving Jekyll and so this i what i utilised to build this site. I've extended quite a lot of the core functionality for my uses but in all honesty, it perfectly suits me.

I can write all of my posts, project updates and pages in Markdown and then publish them straight to my live site via Git. The only downside i suppose is that i can't really post on the fly as i have to be on my laptop to physically publish my content. Not a deal breaker for me by a long chalk as there's very rarely a point that i want to write something and i'm not able to get onto my laptop.

🡐 Older Note


Newer Note 🡒

Building a perfect keyboard
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Reverend And The Makers - Heavyweight Champion of the World

David Perkins © 2020