Saturday, August 23, 2008

6+ Essential Software Tools for a startup that cost zero

If you're a startup starting up or planning to be one, here's a handy list of stuff that could help you bootstrap - the bare essentials. Trust me, its just another one of those lists - but one that I can vouch for. So if you have a better one, you're welcome, just add a link to your list in the comments section. My advice - don't use pirated software, either buy original stuff or search the web for a free alternative (there always is)

1. The Ubuntu way.
If you have a decent PC and zilch account balance, just close your eyes and take an Ubuntu leap of faith. Ubuntu is a great Linux distro that more-or-less works straight out of the box. Just check out how you could get it for free! The best part is that if you go the Ubuntu way - you might as well stop reading right here cause it packs in quite a lot of the 'good' stuff you'd need.

2. The WindowsXP way.
I'm no fan of Windows Vista to put it mildly, if you intend to go the Windows way, better take the simpler and well trodden path of Windows XP. This option of course comes with a price tag.

a. Mozilla Firefox

The best free browser - period. Trusted by millions others, one of the best outcomes of the open-source world. Get Firefox here. Its an excellent replacement for the slightly rusty Internet Explorer (which has been desperately trying to play catchup).

b. Mozilla Thunderbird
A real lightweight email client for your desktop, of course, sans the bells and whistles of the Outlook Express clan. But, it works and it works real fast and real good. Get Thunderbird here.

c. OpenOffice
Of course it lacks the bells and whistles of Microsoft Office! But, come on, you're a startup and don't have a boatload of cash to spend on purchasing licenses. With a document editor, a presentation maker, spreadsheet util and other few other tools thrown in - OpenOffice is a real bargain for the price you pay for it (ZERO). Whats really good about it is you can always read documents that had been saved in MS formats and you can Save As MS .doc, .xls, .ppt. Also, you can seamlessly export any document as .pdf with a single click!

d. Google Apps

Welcome to the connected world. To get your startup off its feet and into the mindshares of potential employees, investors, partners, clients and customers, you need a communication and collaboration tools. Thats what a set of apps - Google Apps does.
The best thing about google apps - gmail for your company. Its a really reliable mail server which gives your team a fully functional, online, kindof email suite (which you can use with Mozilla Thunderbird as well). Goodbye tinkering with boxes trying to set up your own mail server and wondering why your email never reached its recipient.

e. Tortoise, Subversion
Now, this one is for those who might be slightly tech oriented, but trust me, this is one tool that can save you bucket-loads of tears when things go wrong with your PCs or you do things like SHIFT+DEL with that critical source code file or you accidentally delete your most famous quote from the document that you had put in a day before (these things, let me assure you - they will! - amen, says Murphy)

So, viola! we have a free version control system. What this means is that you can now track all changes you made to any file or folder, have multiple people modifying the same file but in different geo-locations and still maintain perfect sanity.

It essentially consists of two parts:
- Subversion, - the server, which you can install either on your own computer (that means it will only function as a limited tracker - sorry folks, no collaborations this way- to each his own) or on a server that could be accessed by all folks in your team.

- TortoiseSVN. A Windows client shell that makes all your subversion tasks as easy as a right click on any file you might want to be 'subversioned'.

Integrated Development Environment

This ones for all ye developers out there. If you're already a developer, I'd bet you already have your fav toolbox with you. But in case you're still undecided or want to choose a uniform one for your organization; pls make a pick else, as google reader often tells me - you'd better land here.

f.1 Netbeans
It says its the "The only IDE you need! Runs on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and Solaris.... Supports: Ajax | C/C++ | Databases | Debugger |Java EE | JavaFX | Java ME | Java SE | JavaScript | Mobile | PHP | REST | Rich Client Platform | Ruby | SOA | SOAP | UML | Web | WSDL | XML". We'd used it extensively for mobile app development and apart from the fact that it needs a good amount of RAM, Netbeans rocks!

f.2 Eclipse
Eclipse is considered a more mature IDE of two and has its loyal base of users with many companies coming up with their own custom Eclipse IDE to do different things.

Well, that brings me to the end of my list though there are a couple of tools that only a pure techie would need and would rather try n figure out on his/ her own. I think with this you have just about everything essential to get started. So - get started!


Sudhanshu said...

Here are a few more things which are essential:

1. Springloops : Online SVN repositories, so that you can move your office around (github if you are a git lover)

2. Basecamp : Really simple project management

You can start off with a free option on both the sites.

Anupam said...

Thanks Sudhanshu. btw... The USB+Ubuntu guide on your blog could also be of help here!

Unknown said...

I loved Eclipse.. It was really very helpful. I know Netbeans is a great tool too but takes a lot of RAM to perform faster.

Now add Google Chrome to your list.. It is the nest big thingie. This is because Android when launched officially will make big inroads in the mobile industry and I hope that Chrome would be mature enough to handle security issues. Imagine it already has lot of security features..

Anupam said...

Tapish, as I said, the crowd is kinda polarized between Eclipse and Netbeans. Eclipse, I'd agree is the slimmer sibling :)