Virtual Church of the contact | map
Blind Chihuahua


More to religion
than pleasing
your imaginary friend

Whether you are considering collaborating with us on VCBC, or growing your own website, here are some items in our toolbox. Many run cross-platform, but some run only on MacOS X.

Content Creation

  • TextWrangler - The free version of the BBEdit text editor from Bare Bones Software. Many powerful features including multi-file search and replace.
  • The GIMP - The GNU Image Manipulation Program. The freeware alternative to Adobe's Photoshop and Illustrator combined! With the current stable release 2.4.3, it's good enough for us. We are switching to the GIMP. There are books about GIMP, but free documentation is also online.
  • Inkscape - A freeware Drawing/Painting program similar to products like Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw. With the combination of GIMP and Inkscape, we think we can do anything we need and stay on our limited budget. It features free online documentation and native SVG.
  • Photoshop - We used it and loved it for years, but Adobe has priced it too far above its freeware alternative. Includes ImageReady which makes it easy to generate image maps, animated GIFs, transparent GIFs and PNGs, etc.
  • MS Word, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint Viewer, Appleworks, and Adobe Reader - We use these mostly to open content from contributors. When the time comes to upgrade, we may switch to the freeware Open Office.

Web Site Management

  • Coda - Shareware from Panic Software. For us this replaces Adobe's GoLive/Dreamweaver which got too expensive and feature-bloated. Coda includes code and text editing, error checking, ftp transfers, a terminal shell, and some site management and collaboration features in a well-designed, beautiful user interface. It now has site-wide, multi-file search and replace! It lacks WYSIWYG editing, but with CSS, that would be an impediment. Instead, it has a handy preview feature.
  • If you need WYSIWYG, try SandVox. We don't use it for VCBC, because it only supports 2-column layouts (for now), but we liked the demo we played with.
  • CSSEdit - Shareware from Macrabbit. While Coda does a good job with CSS, CSSEdit features live preview updating which helps with tweaking CSS layouts. CSSEdit and Coda are cheap enough that we bought both.
  • W3C Markup Validator — test your markup, your css and then...
  • Browsershots — test your web design in different browsers, all at once, for free.
  • W3C CheckLink Online — check your links online, and/or use something like BLT - Braxton's Link Tester (Donorware) by Braxton Sherhouse. We haven't settled on a link checker yet, and Panic tells us that they plan to build one into Coda.
  • Superb Internet - Our hosting service. They handle everything from personal web pages to Sourceforge.


  • Firefox -'s open source freeware cross-plaform browser. Used by most of the computer-savvy. We like it for its web developer add-ons, like Firebug, DOM inspector, and JavaScript Console.
  • Safari - Apple's browser, now cross-platform.
  • Opera - Quick and clean.
  • OmniWeb - Made by the Omni Group, which makes some other interesting software.
  • Internet Explorer - Microsoft's Windows-only browser. Used by most of the computer non-savvy. The No.1 target of malware (like viruses and worms). We look at it for testing only.



We use Apple Macintosh computers (PowerPC, we must upgrade to Intel-based someday), and all-in-one (Nikon Coolpix, Canon PowerShot, and Olympus Stylus) digital cameras. We used to shoot with 35mm SLRs, and we think about DSLRs, but they cost more and are more to carry. The best camera is the one that you have with you when it's time to make the shot. We also use an old Wacom Graphire tablet from time to time.


We don't endorse these products, because their manufacturer's don't pay us to do so. But this is what we currently use, FWIW.