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Macintosh and iPhone software development

Indie Developer Toolkit

I’m at the C4 conference, and one of the questions asked of the panel was what they used for email, hosting, version control, and the like. The panel had good answers.

Here’s what I’m using.

Business name—Be cool. Get one. Even if you don’t incorporate (which is probably a good idea; I’ll blog about that when I do it), you sound like you are somebody. One of the biggest highs for me was going to Cook County Clerk’s office to register the name.

Logo Logo—Find a logo designer online, and spend a few bucks. Look for somebody that’s done work that appeals to your tastes. I used LogoBee to design the Dashing Falcon logo. $249 got me six designs within the first week and several updates and tweaks. Turnaround on tweak requests was fast.

Business cards–I designed my own in Illustrator from the logo files I got from LogoBee. Saved them as a PDF and had them printed by Overnight Prints. Full color with a nice glossy coating.

Web hosting—Currently, I’m on Site 5. They’ve been affordable and reliable. The minor annoyance is that they’ve been killing off my idle shell programs, like if I leave an Emacs running server-side, while bouncing to a web client to look at what I’m doing.

Another option is to get a slice. I run a server for a friend on Slicehost, and they’ve been great. I don’t worry about backups, because my friend pays the small incremental cost of backing up the entire slice regularly. I’m running Ubuntu Hardy Server there, which makes it easy to add and update packages with APT.

Website—I’m using a Content Management System or CMS: Drupal. It can handle pages, stories, blogs, even forums. It publishes my site map to search engines, and offers service links. It’s so good I don’t even mind it’s written in PHP.

The Apache rewrites that implement the clean URLs won’t rewrite the URLs of static files, so that would be a possibility for a static, artistically-designed main page.

Blog editorMarsEdit. Great app, works with Drupal.

EmailGoogle Apps for your Domain. I used to run my own email server, but found I was spending too much valuable time working on spam control. Do you have a dedicated full-time IT employee? Since you don’t, get somebody else to do the hard work for you. Google Apps is free for small businesses. You can still access your mail via POP and IMAP if you like. And you also can use Google for your calendar, internal or public wiki pages, and Jabber-based chat in your domain (I’m kevin@dashingfalcon.com in Jabber).

I won’t run a mail server for myself or anybody else. Ever. I have better uses for my time than joining the war between spammers and spam filters.

Version control—I prefer Mercurial, but also use Git when I’m working with an existing SVN repo. Use version control. Unconditionally. I can’t stress that more. A DVCS is just the right size for a small business or indie developer; once you get familiar with one, you’ll never regret the effort of setting up SVN again.

I use version control for everything. I use it for my application source, my open source, my downloads, my website. You can even incrementally back up dumps of your MySQL database (mysqldump --skip-extended-insert keeps only one insert per line). Backing up my website involves pulling the changes from Mercurial from my web host.

Anything you do with anything, check in to your DVCS. With Mercurial, it’s as easy as hg init; hg add; hg commit.

Other suggestions or links to your resources? Put them in the comments!