As an IT major, there are a lot of new programs that you have to learn and work with. Many students work with them for the first time at the iSchool. To help you out, here’s the five most essential apps you didn’t know you needed:

Taiga Kan Ban

Taiga kan ban boards helped me a lot with managing projects during IST 466 (Prof Issues/Information Management & Technology – capstone) and IST 445 (Managing Information Systems Projects – project management). Currently, Trello is the industry standard that’s sweeping the market in online boards. Taiga kan ban and scrum boards have a cleaner interface that is easier to navigate and comprehend, especially for smaller teams.

For example, with IST 445, it’s easy to set up and monitor the progress of each of the five phases of project management with related activities (called user stories) and tasked team members. Or you could check out the kan ban section to see the progress of all user stories sorted between “new”, “ready”, “in progress”, “ready for test”, “done”, and “archived.” Other features include a wiki section, issue tracker, integrations and plugins, automatic reporting, and a quick link to a custom video conference room (I recommend Jitsi).

Taiga can be downloaded to your own server or used via web hosted

f.lux Display Filter

f.lux makes working in front of the computer late at night less painful for your eyes. With f.lux, it alters the brightness and colorization of your computer or smartphone screen. It sets itself according to the time of day of your zip code or grid coordinates. Set to autostart when your computer boots, f.lux brightens and darkens your screen during the day and night respectively to reduce eye strain allowing you to work longer. Even with f.lux downloaded, you should still take regular breaks away from any screen.

f.lux is available for Windows, Linux Debian/Ubuntu, OS X, Android and iPhone/iPad.

Master PDF Editor

Master PDF Editor allows you to create and edit PDF files for free. Editing options include rearranging pages, encryption, file type conversion, creating PDF’s from a blank page, and more. My favorite feature is the ability to add text fields. This allows users to type and save information into the PDF, negating the need to print, fill out by hand, and scan PDF submissions. More Section 508 accessibility features to accompany optical character recognition (OCR) are planned for future releases.

Master PDF Editor is available for Windows, Linux, and OS X.

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CherryTree Note Taking

CherryTree is a note-taking desktop app that simplifies organization via hierarchical sections, called nodes and sub-nodes. Each node can be set as rich text or over 50 other programming languages including Java and Python. It uses color syntax highlighting for easier visual understanding. With rich text, you have many common formatting options (bold, align, list, etc.) and can insert code boxes for programming languages with syntax highlighting as well. Compatibility features allow importing/exporting files for over a dozen note-taking apps such as Zim and Evernote.

CherryTree is available for Windows and Linux Debian/Ubuntu.

Slack/ScudCloud Desktop App

Slack is a great Internet Relay Chat (IRC) solution for real-time virtual collaboration. The ability to integrate other apps (including aforementioned with Slack via web hooks and plugins makes it a solid hub for teamwork. However, when working on multiple projects it is easier to have a desktop app that handles multiple Slack channels at once versus an open tab per Slack channel in your web browser. You can navigate between Slack channels using the vertical navigation bar on the left in Slack and Scudcloud desktop apps.

The official Slack app is for Windows and Linux Debian/Ubuntu.
Scudcloud holds three for Linux Debian/Ubuntu, Arch, and Fedora users.