February 2, 2010

Mac OS X Productivity Apps

Recently I upgraded to Snow Leopard and naturally this made me review what's in my Applications folder. Here are the more interesting products I use more or less regularly:

iWork 09
I love iWork since it came out in 2005 (?). I use Pages a lot for personal stuff because client work usually requires true Office compatibility. I always use Keynote though, never Power Point. Keynote is just great. I prefer Excel over Numbers but mostly because I know it better I guess.

Office 2008
This is a must have on a consultant's machine and I am mostly satisfied with the Mac OS version. Though Word remains as painful as ever. I love Excel - I think it is the best product Microsoft ever made.

I am a true lover of this project management application but the occasions where I really need it are rare. I like the look and feel and the millions of export formats. It handles MS Project files nicely.

Nova Mind Platinum
The best mind mapping software ever. The Platinum version includes a script writing feature you can use to prepare presentations in a Beyond Bullet Points way.

Oxygen XML Editor
It took some research to find a nice XML editor for Mac OS X but with Oxygen I found a tool that handles everything you might want to do with XML. I mostly use it for applying XSLTs to some XML and to pretty-print one-line XML files. It is also good for generating example documents from schemas (who understands an XML schema without an example anyway?) and for schema conversions, e.g. RelaxNG to XSD.

Aqua Data Studio
Finding a really good database query tool for Mac OS X was even harder than finding an XML editor. What I wanted was a product that would connect to nearly all common databases and would provide at least the functionality of Toad for serious relational work. Aqua Data Studio is excellent and even has a relational diagramming tool and very sophisticated export and import capabilities. Very good for cycles where you need to work on relational data with a set of Unix tools.

Magic Draw Enterprise
Magic Draw is an excellent UML tools with code and database engineering support and very nice report generation facilities. I mostly use UML for documentation and I love the database reverse engineering feature to extract relational diagrams from database schemas. It is fast and has very nice look and feel for a Java-on-Mac application. But it is unfortunately not a bargain. NoMagic really does maintain and extend the product frequently so paying for the updates has always been worthwhile for me.
Magic Draw has optional plugins for SysML and DoDAF.

Eclipse Classic
Trying to stick to 'standard' Eclipse setup with no plugins except for SVN and the gorgeous vi plugin.

Omni Outliner
The Max OS X classic outliner. Always open to manage my thoughts. N'uff said.

Omni Focus
My current ToDo items application. Though I really want to look at Things.

My favorite tools for creating screen casts. I use this to record code walk-throughs with clients or workshops to have something to hand over afterwards.

Parallels Desktop
Virtual Machine for running Windows if I have to. I used it a couple of years ago to develop on a client's host. So it was: Remote Desktop over VPN over Parallels - worked quite nicely actually. Nowadays of course, Apple's RDT would do the job.

My editor if I really can't use vi or need to convert between encodings.

Application launcher. Everybody must have Quicksilver, definitely!

A little tool for managing code snippets. I often forget about using it, but its a clever thing to have.


Monkey Office
After looking at a bunch of accounting software products for the Mac, this is the one I picked.

Adobe CS5
It sometimes good to be able to edit designer's work directly, for example to create translations. This saves the roundtrip of having the designer replace the texts. InDesign is an amazing piece of software.

Yesterday, I learned about Mondrianum. This is a color picker that works together with Adobe's Kuler. Difficult to explain what it does - check out for yourself.

Not worth describing, but there also is EyeTV, Toast, Colloquy, Twitterific, Photoshop, Quicktime Pro, Skype.


  1. Great list of applications. I didn't know about Nova Mind Platinum and Aqua Data Studio, so I will give them a try. You might be interested in DevonThink (the Professional Office edition). I use it to store reaseach papers, documentation, code snippets and snippets from web pages that I come across (think bookmarks associated with some of the contents of the web site).

  2. Jan,

    Great list of Applications indeed. I have been looking for a XMLSpy like tool for Mac for a longtime. I briefly used Exchanger XML Lite 3.2, but Oxgen XMl editor really rocks.

    I am looking for a ErWin Data Modeler kind of a tool for Mac. If I remember right, ErWin is available only as a Windows Installer. Would Aqua Data Studio handle that?