Recently we were asked what some of our "go to" add-ons are for ExpressionEngine. While we don't subscribe to a "use all the add-ons all the time" mentality there are a few that make their way into our installs more often than not. Below is a list and some reasons why.
In no particular order:
Updater - what did we do before Brad and company created Updater? For those that are unfamiliar this brings an easy to use interface to the updating ExpressionEngine process. We used to have to upload files and make backups and stuff. No longer. Select the file, click a button and relax.
Channel Images - Another add-on by DevDemon. The reason we use this one so much is because many sites we build have some functionality where bulk uploading is necessary. Channel Images has a great bulk upload feature. We also like it because it automatically resizes images to widths/heights that you specify in the CP. While there are other add-ons that allow you to resize images I find it simple to do with Channel Images.
Backup Pro - Eric Lamb (mithra62) has given me piece of mind with Backup Pro. Before any changes are made to a production site we make sure to hit Backup Pro and run the backup process for both the files and the database. We also encourage our clients to ocassionally do the same just to make sure backups are being made.
Freeform - If you have built any sites with EE then you know that FreeForm is THE free add-on for forms. It's gotten a bit more complex since Solspace made it into a two-tiered (free/paid) product but that has not changed the fact that the free version is a service to the EE community.
WYGWAM - A WYSIWYG that we can just upload the files, click a button and forget about it? This is a no-brainer install from the folks at Pixel and Tonic. Even though most of our sites segment data into their own custom fields there are always those content blocks that need additional formatting (news/blog/bio/etc) and for those we use WYGWAM from Pixel and Tonic.
Deeploy Helper - Most of our work starts on a dev server. Deeploy Helper from Hop Studios makes changing server paths and URLs really simple. Gone are the days when you had to scour the control panel for all of the various locations where the server path or URL is hidden. Just visit Deeploy Helper under modules and it displays them all on one page and then will even give you the ability to search and replace.
Hon-ee Pot Captcha - It is no secret that all websites are getting hammered with spam. While there is no perfect solution Hon-ee Pot Captcha from Trevor Davis has cut spam on the sites we build, drastically. I highly recommend it to save your clients' sanity.
Switchee - Use Switchee once on a project and you will be sold on it's effectiveness. It brings Select Case logic to EE. Complex Conditional Global Variables just won't cut it anymore. Thanks to Mark Croxton for making this super efficient add-on.
TruncHTML - All sites have some need to truncate text. TruncHTML from Oliver Heine is how we handle that. It does so simply and has not failed me in my many years of using it.
VZ Address - VZ Address from Eli Van Zoeren might seem like an odd one for this list. But many times when you build out a site you have decisions to make about where to store things like location information. More often than not we choose to store them in a Channel as that is what the client is most used to working with, and we want them to be comfortable with changing the content. VZ Address gives you the normal fields that you would want for address all in a single custom field and then gives you tags that you can use to display those on the front end of the site.
Field Pack+ - I love the styling Brandon and crew from Pixel & Tonic have put on these fields. Plus I am a sucker for the Pill Fieldtype. Many times we won't use all of these fields but they are free so we install them anyway.