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10 free-but-professional tools for your dev projects

Saulo Vargas
Senior Fullstack Developer Javascript/Typescript Specialist I ❤️ VueJS & Jamstack
・3 min read

This article has the #translated tag: Leer el artículo en español

Welcome to the first of this series "Free - as in free beer" where we'll analyze online resources with free versions we can use without trade off the quality of our project.

Most of this free-plan-versions of this services are somehow restricted, but you'll see they can fit perfectly in the dev phase of your project.

1 Google Documents
Main function: To create and share documents between a team.
Additional function: To download a PDF with the document.
Hidden trade-off: To tell Google all our secret plans?

2 Trello
Main function: To reduce the story from the previous document and divide it in lists, cards and checkboxes making it easy for the team to handle and easy for the client to understand.
Hidden trade-off:

  • You can't add more than one integration (power-up)
  • You can't have added files bigger than 10MB

3 Heroku
Main function: To host the server side logic and configuration (I usually work with NodeJS APIs) in their containers (dynos)
Additional function:

  • To deploy automatically the changes sent from developing terminal.
  • To save safely and usefully the aplication's secret information (env vars, tokens, passwords)

Hidden trade-off: The free dynos only have 512 MB RAM & 1 web per worker.

4 MLab
Main function: To host a MongoDB database and get a URL where to point our server side logic.
Hidden trade-off: Database can't be larger that 500 MB. Automatic backups aren't possible as vertical or horizontal scalling.

5 Netlify
Main function: To host a static web client and provide an URL to access the content.
Additional function:

  • To get a custom URL pointing our own domain.
  • To get SSL certificates for every domain or subdomain pointing their nameservers to Netlify's DNS.

Hidden trade-off: only one user per proyect, security and permission configurations are limited.

6 Freenom
Main function: To get a TLD for free.
Hidden trade-off: TLD with none or low reputation, hard to remind (can be solved with creativity). The domain get a price when it isn't renewed on time, sometimes the price becomes premium, and you can lost your domain for a few months. After that it'll become available for free again.

7 Keybase
Main function: Private git repository and team chat.
Additional function:

  • Identity validation service.
  • Group and subgroup chat with channels.
  • Safe file share.
  • URL for public files.
  • 250 GB storage.
  • Git repos scope: public, group, subgroup, invididual.
  • All activity in the platform is encrypted.
  • Clients for main OSs, no web client.
  • Direct client support

Hidden trade-off: The project still is a proof of concept, and their apps are constantly getting modifications (not a trade-off on itself but a comment)

8 Github
Main function: (we all know it, I'll explain how I use it in my stack)
Aditional function: Netlify integration, it allows me to deploy code automatically.
Hidden trade-off: Github only allows public repos as free, then, I can use them for front-end only, no secrets here.

9 Sentry
Main function: Error monitoring.
Hidden trade-off: Only available in personal projects or early-stage apps

10 VS Code
Main function: To edit code.
Función adicional:

  • Native integration with git
  • Thousands of extensions
  • Real time colaboration, even in debugging sessions.

Hidden trade-off: To tell Microsoft all our secret plans?

Later in this series, I'll dig deeper about how I use every tool, so you can leave your questions here and I'll use them to write the new articles.
Also I hope your comments in this and the next articles will improve the information, you can suggest new tools or new ways to use the shared tools.

Discussion (15)

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tobiassn profile image
Tobias SN

For No. 8, GitHub has actually just recently started providing private repos for free accounts.

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sauloco profile image
Saulo Vargas Author

Yes, just yesterday. Perfect timing.

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immnk profile image
Manikanta

Hidden trade off: only 3 collaborators per repo.

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donut87 profile image
Christian Baer

Github imho is overrated. I would always advise using Gitlab instead for 'professional' projects for 3 reasons.

  1. Private projects are free on gitlab.com. Even with the newest announcement from Github this is still better, because the number of users are not limited.
  2. It is a full CI/CD environment. This means build and test pipelines are part of the platform, Kubernetes integration is already there and the web IDE is pretty advanced.
  3. You can self host even in the free version if you like.

Also you can upgrade to plans that suits your need. There are 3 levels of paid plans so I think it is much easier to scale to the individual needs of a developer/team/company.

We are currently using the free version self hosted and even in the free version we get much out of it. Payed plans would not make sense for us (at the moment).

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lukaszkuczynski profile image
lukaszkuczynski

Very nice comparison! Thanks so much! I personally make extensive use of Trello, used to use MLab.

Very nice thought about Sentry.
Recently started to use VS Code, do you think Microsoft will fetch our projects and scan it ? :)

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sauloco profile image
Saulo Vargas Author

IDK but at least you can't say I didn't warn you 😂
thanks for your comment!

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wherejuly profile image
wj

Hey. Add Mailchimp and SendGrid for the cloud mail services that are free for dev usage. Both have great and mighty REST APIs (yet rather complicated). The first makes easy managing the mailing lists and the second is great at making the transaction emails for free (up to 100 letters | day).

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rrampage profile image
Raunak Ramakrishnan

We can self-host Sentry using Docker.

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sauloco profile image
Saulo Vargas Author

can you explain how to? or a link? it sounds great

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julesmanson profile image
jules manson

Very cool post. I also love the humor: "To tell Microsoft all our secret plans?"

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marthaelax profile image
Angeiͥͥͥͥͥͥͥͥͥͥͥͥͥͥ

Now you can use private repos on Github ;)

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wherejuly profile image
wj • Edited

And saying VS Code why not say SublimeText? Its greatness cannot be overpassed for the front (HTML/CSS/JS) / back (PHP, Node), cannot say for other stacks though.

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girisagar46 profile image
Sagar Giri

You can have unlimited private GitHub repos now.

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le_newtype profile image
Nicholas ―M―

Silly question, but what does TLD stand for?

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sauloco profile image
Saulo Vargas Author

Top-level domain as .com, .org.
In freenom's case there are .ga, .tk and some others