Developing smoothly from one operating system to another, and transitioning from one set of tools to another every time you switch OS can be frustrating as it’s time consuming every time you need to re-adapt to the environment of another tool.

A few years ago I realized the time that could be saved by switching to a set of standard tools that could be used completely cross platform. The tools that functioned across all three OSes were limited at the time. Thankfully, the number of tools, as well as their stability and functionality, has grown greatly in the last couple years.

I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tools for development, not just for PSD to HTML projects, but development in general.

IDE

Aptana. Based on Eclipse, Aptana is a powerful IDE with a rich feature set and excellent stability. If you are a rails developer, you will particularly appreciate it’s feature set. It’s CSS editor is a bit awkward in v3, but it’s HTML editor shines through.

Text Editors

Redcar. I’m incredibly fond of Redcar. It’s cross platform, lightweight, and highly extensible. It’s under active development and supports extensions built on Ruby and Textmate bundles.

Sublime2. I’ve only recently begun using Sublime2. If you’ve tried it before try it again. If you haven’t, give it a go. Version two is far better than the 1.* strain, and is much more stable. It also supports textmate bundles and themes.

Misc Tools

Filezilla. An excellent FTP app, functions well and behaves the same cross platform.

GIMP. While I use Photoshop (via WINE on linux where it runs flawlessly) for the majority of my image work, GIMP is a very good alternative especially for quick edits and adjustments, or lower spec machines such as netbooks.

Pidgin. I rarely have a need for a messenger, but when I do Pidgin is the tool of choice.

VirtualBox. A virtualization system outperforming it’s rivals, Virtualbox is cross platform and completely free, with a host of excellent features.

In addition to running crossplatform tools whenever possible, I’ve also taken steps to keep my OSes appearing and functioning in as similar a way as possible…

I really like having a dock, so on Windows I run RocketDock, and on Linux I run Cairo dock (the site is terrible, the tool is not). The command line tools available to Linux and OSX are an integral part of a developers toolset, so on Windows I run Cygwin to give me much of the functionality from POSIX systems.

There are many other cross platform tools available to you, many that you probably already use (Skype comes to mind). If you find yourself adjusting to tools from one OS to another more than occasionally, it might be time to start looking for more flexible, cross platform, solutions. Adding these visual improvements makes me feel more at home on an OS I might use less than another.

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