Over the years we have used a multitude of tools to build our online business. Some of those tools weren't quite as good as others. Over the past year we have settled on several programming and design tools that seem to be exactly what we need.
- xSQL Object – Since we have multiple developers working on projects at the same time it is necessary to keep multiple versions of our databases synchronized. This tool lets you compare the schema (design) of two different databases and then integrate the changes so the databases are the same.The interface for xSQL Object is clean and if the databases are both local, the comparison runs extremely fast. Once you have run a comparison you can pick through each difference and select the specific changes you want to implement. You can also tell the tool to ignore specific types of objects when running the comparison.When we compared prices between this and other tools, we found that with the nice coupon you get when you download the trial, it was less expensive than most of the other products out there.
If you need to run database schema comparisons this a great tool for your needs.
- Photoshop – Once you get past the license fee shock, you will find that Photoshop is really the best image editing tool available. For years we used Paint Shop Pro which, while good, just didn't have the same power and efficiencies available in Photoshop. As an added bonus, Photoshop has a built in tool to create Zoomify images which we use to create high detail images of jewelry and rosaries.
- Coldfusion 8 – Back when I was first learning how to program I hand coded pages. This was pretty tedious. When I started working for Sprint Paranet I was introduced to Coldfusion which I think was version 4 at the time. The learning curve for the software was very short and I was able to start creating an ecommerce site within a few weeks. The current version of Coldfusion is fast and has lots of great features including pdf creation and manipulation, image manipulation and Ajax integration.
- Olympus E-330 – If you have to take pictures of products for your site, you have to have a good camera. This camera, which replaced another Olympus has been a great camera for us.
- Endicia – I always hear Stamps.com being advertised on the radio but feature for feature, we have always found that Endicia has the edge for postage printing. Since we do a lot of shipping overseas, the automatically generated customs forms have been a huge time saver for us. Stamps may have that now, but didn't when we needed them.
- Icontact – There are a lot of newsletter management services out there. We started working with Icontact several years ago and have been happy with their service. They quickly respond to service questions and their tools are as good as other comparable products online.