While doing our taxes this month, I was a little surprised just how much I spend for various web apps and services to help run Riverfold. While I could trim some of them, most are essential and save a lot of time. I thought it would be interesting to write up some of the most important ones.
Linode: I’ve moved nearly everything to Linode. I like their style: just basic, solid hosting, with good features but not an overwhelming number of services or fancy stuff. They’ve recently increased their RAM and added SSD. I have servers there for Nginx/Unicorn, MySQL, Redis, and Elasticsearch. I also use their load balancer and Longview stats app. This link uses my referral code.
Heroku: Before moving to Linode, most of my stuff was on Heroku. Now I only have one small app and database there, and I’ll be completely moved off by the end of the year. I’m including it here for completeness only. It’s a great option to get started if you don’t want to be a part-time system administrator, but I think Marco sums up nicely why you want to use Linux servers instead.
Stripe: Can’t say enough good things about Stripe. Watermark, Searchpath, Tweet Marker, and Core Intuition Jobs all use it for credit card processing. It’s the best.
Gauges: As much as I always loved Mint, as my business grew to several web apps and web sites, I looked for a new stats package that could support any number of sites, and which would work better across hosts, since I don’t need to run the database. I’ve been very happy with this.
AppFigures: I’ve used this for years to track Tweet Library sales. It’s great. I also like that I can enter other people’s popular apps and get an idea of how they’re trending if they make it to the top lists.
Blinksale: Kind of an ancient invoicing app that hasn’t changed at all in years, but it works so I keep using it. Originally started by the folks who would go on to do Gowalla.
Beanstalk: I moved the source for all my Riverfold projects here because it can do Subversion and Git well. I sometimes wonder if I should move to GitHub instead, since I do use GitHub and have a couple tiny public repositories there, but I like that Beanstalk is focused only on private hosting. No social; just a well-designed web app.
Dreamhost: Still using this for email and a few static or PHP sites. It’s cheap and works well. Not much benefit in moving away from it, though I prefer my more important web apps to be hosted on Linode.
DNSimple: I have a few domains here and hope to have all of them moved over eventually. I want to have a single place for DNS. Right now I have registration and DNS hosting spread across Dreamhost, Amazon, and Network Solutions. Makes it difficult to remember where everything is and to keep track of expirations.
Buffer: This company has been on my radar since someone asked me to support it in Tweet Library. They also have a really interesting blog where they share revenue, salaries, subscribers, web traffic, and other usually private details from a company. I admire that a lot. Daniel and I use it to automate sending Core Intuition Jobs links to Twitter, App.net, and Facebook.
FogBugz: In the past I’ve build my own bug tracker, used Jira, Redmine, GitHub issues, and others I’m forgetting. They all have problems so for Riverfold I keep it simple with hosted FogBugz. To complement this I use OmniFocus for non-bug tasks.
Zendesk: For too long I was just using Apple’s Mail.app to handle support email. Now support email goes to Zendesk, where I can better track and reply to it. The downside is I’ve had a couple cases of people not seeing the replies, possibly because the HTML email is more often flagged as spam. Need to investigate whether I can switch it to plaintext, but otherwise I’m happy.
Tapstream: Just started using this to help track Twitter ads and other links, to see what marketing actually converts to App Store sales. The web app is good, they responded to a support question the same day, and I love that the SDK is just a handful of .m files that can be dropped into an iOS project.
And that’s it. I may have left a few things out (like consumer-focused apps Dropbox, App.net, and Twitter), but these certainly cover the major services I use now. In the old days it was common to just have one server that did everything. Now there are so many specialized services. While it seems like a lot to manage, each one does a much better job than I could do with a home-grown solution.
Update 9/16/2016: I still like all of these services, but since originally written I’ve consolidated Beanstalk and FogBugz to GitHub; Postmark to Mailchimp; and stopped using Gauges, Keen, and Tapstream.