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Software I can't work without

I'm about to configure a new development machine this week. It's going to be my 3rd install from scratch in the last 12 months, which I know is not all that much, but certainly more than I wish I had to.

Besides the common software development tools, like Visual Studio, SQL Server, Ruby, Office, Firefox, SVN, etc, over the years I've collected a number of small tools that I make sure are installed before I start doing anything else.

The list is volatile but some utilities have been there for years. Here's my current list in no particular order:

  • Taskbar Shuffle - I'm sort of a neat freak and this little wonder does only one thing. It lets you rearrange the application buttons in the taskbar. I don't understand how this is still not enabled in Windows out of the box. UPDATE: We have been heard. Windows 7 finally allows you to rearrange the taskbar buttons.
  • Slickrun - I need a command/app launcher and I've settled on Slickrun for some time now. I don't need much from it but I definitely need it. On my mac, as you can imagine, I use Quicksilver.
  • EditPlus - Every serious developer has his favorite text editor. Mine is EditPlus, at least on Windows. It's simple, extensible, has most of the features you'd expect from a text artisan's toolbox. Again, on the mac I'm more obvious and use TextMate, which is quickly becoming my new favorite if I can work on the mac.
  • Truecrypt - In case you aren't familiar with it, Truecrypt is a data encryption software that creates encrypted file systems that that you can mount in Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Truecrypt makes encryption a piece of cake and I have been using it since when it's non-Windows support was laughable.
  • Timesnapper - This tool has a very simple premise, it takes screenshots of your desktop on a regular interval. You can later relive your day just like a movie. This application is like my backup memory when I'm preparing my timesheets. It works great with Truecrypt in case you are concerned with having your whereabouts "caught on camera."
  • Lutz Red Gate's .NET Reflector - There's no .NET development without Reflector, I should not even need to mention that I use it. Let's start a campaign to have Reflector bundled with Visual Studio. Update: Reflector was acquired by Red Gate shortly after I wrote this post. I guess they moved quicker than Microsoft and our campaing to have that tool be part of the SDK or Visual Studio is severely at risk.
  • Daemon Tools - Mount ISO images as CD/DVD ROM drives. Update: Apparently I was using a much older version of Daemon Tools and that tool now install spyware even if opt out of installing the stupid toolbar. I'm starting to use Virtual Clone Drive now and it has been alright.
  • Hamachi - VPN made easy as pie. 'Nuff said.
  • Foxit Reader - I can't stand Adobe Acrobloat. Foxit isn't the greatest thing on earth but is good enough and very lightweight.
  • Filezilla - Sooner or later I'll need a FTP client. Filezilla has been good to me.
  • Firebug for Firefox - If there's no .NET development without Reflector, then Firebug is like Reflector for Web development. But I'm sure you already know that.
  • YSlow for Firebug - This nice add-on helps me by suggesting possible ways to improve page loading performance. While you're at it take a look at these other Firebug extensions.
  • 7-zip - Because we all need a shell-integrated compression tool.
  • Tabbed Console - I'm not exactly a command line ninja, but I find myself at the black screen very often. Often enough that it's not rare that I have more than one of those open. The tabbed Console utility allows me to have all my command prompt sessions in the same window. And more than that, I can have flavored command windows tabs, like one for the regular cmd.exe, one for IRb (the Ruby console), one for PowerShell, one for Cygwin, VS Command Prompt, and on, and on.
  • Sysinternals stuff - Sometimes you need to bring the big guns.

What about you? Do you have tools that you feel naked without?


Posted 07-31-2008 5:07 AM by sergiopereira

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Comments

Bruno Moniz wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 07-31-2008 7:36 AM

Interesting post Sérgio. I didn't know about YSlow and Truecrypt.

Besides this tools (some i use some don't) i always install FxCop, StyleCop, Snippy and AutoDiagramer.

KG2V wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 07-31-2008 7:56 AM

You mention TextMate for the Mac.  As a new Mach user (often programming Winforms apps either in Bootcamp or VMWare, can you recommend some good applications for OS-X?

sergiopereira wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 07-31-2008 8:13 AM

@KG2V

I don't develop fulltime on the mac, but I do have some apps that I like there, like TextMate and Quicksilver mentioned above.

The apps I use on the mac are very common: Adium, Cyberduck, Seashore, SvnX (TextMate kind of makes this unnecessary), SuperDuper.

You can find good lists here .

JeroenH wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 07-31-2008 8:36 AM

Here's the list of (free) goodies that I came up with some time ago: jeroen.haegebaert.com/.../Software-Goodies

Wayne wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 07-31-2008 9:57 AM

One of my first installs on a new computer is WinMerge.  It's a great opensource Diff/Merge program that I use at least 10 times each and every day.  

My favorite feature is the 7-Zip integration allowing you to easily grab a .zip of the files that are different between two directories.  Perfect for making Update packages.

sergiopereira wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 07-31-2008 10:14 AM

@Wayne,

I forgot that one, you're absolutely right. I used to be a KDiff user but I'm on WinMerge as well. I did not know about the 7-zip integration that's great.

Felix wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 07-31-2008 10:28 AM

<b>Resharper</b> is missing, and fxCop is now part of Visual Studio 2008..

Dew Drop - July 31, 2008 | Alvin Ashcraft's Morning Dew wrote Dew Drop - July 31, 2008 | Alvin Ashcraft's Morning Dew
on 07-31-2008 10:45 AM

Pingback from  Dew Drop - July 31, 2008 | Alvin Ashcraft's Morning Dew

mendicant wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 07-31-2008 11:01 AM

I use a lot of the programs that you've mentioned on this list, but I think that the only one that I use different is Launchy as opposed to SlickRun.

I'm definitely going to try out the taskbar shuffler (i hate that I can't change taskbar items around! I'm so excited) and editplus (i've been using notepad++, but don't care too much for it).

tcodex wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 07-31-2008 11:45 AM

I love Autohotkey  for quick access to all my dev tools:

http://www.autohotkey.com/

I use many of the same above and I also use WikidPad (groups.google.com/.../home) for wiki like documentation and notes from my system tray and xnview (http://www.xnview.com/) for all image manipulation and viewing

Rich LaMarche wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 07-31-2008 12:44 PM

Thanks for Taskbar Shuffle.  I didn't know about that one.  I use ClipX for added clipboard support and PDFCreator for PDF generation.  At work I have a large number of server to RDP to, so Royal TS is a nice shell to keep all that organized.

Thanks for sharing,

Rich

Webmogul wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 07-31-2008 1:24 PM

If you like TextMate, try out 'e'. it uses the TM bundles and is quite nice. I used to use Notepad++, but I really like that Command-T file finder in TM. On e it is Ctrl-Shift-T (IIRC). The single biggest help for me.

I also recently found the tabbed Console for windows and I like it. Has some flaws and hasn't been updated in quite some time, but still pretty nice. I work in Grails a lot so command line is always open.

sergiopereira wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 07-31-2008 1:45 PM

@Webmogul,

I've thought of "e" a few times but I never had enough motivation to ditch my tried and trusted EditPlus.

I'll probably give it another go after I'm completely adapted to TM on the mac. Hopefully the keybindings difference between TM and "e" won't drive me crazy,

Neil Blackburn wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 07-31-2008 2:44 PM

Thanks.  

What no Resharper?!  A refreshing change!

xero wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-01-2008 12:46 AM

Agree completely with SysInternals, Reflector, and Firebug. Taskbar Shuffle does need to be built in.

Stephen Cronin wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-01-2008 2:12 AM

Thanks for the tip about Taskbar Shuffle. That's changing my life and I've only been using it for a couple of hours. I've always been frustrated by not being able to move items around the task bar.

Michael Medin wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-01-2008 3:25 AM

I just have to mention my all time favorite tool: "Far Manager" (which now is open source BTW). It is a norton commander "clone" (more like a modern version of) for windows, and have plugins for just about anything!

Also I use TaskSwitchXP all the time.

// MickeM

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on 08-01-2008 5:41 AM

You've been kicked (a good thing) - Trackback from DotNetKicks.com

sergiopereira wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-01-2008 8:06 AM

@Neil

I do use R# but it's something I can do just fine without.

@MickeM

I used TaskSwitchXP for a couple of years but I ended up realizing it wasn't doing much more than eye candy for me - I never clicked on it.

Pedro Camacho wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-01-2008 11:14 AM

You forgot GIT for source file control

sergiopereira wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-01-2008 11:27 AM

@Pedro,

I don't use GIT but if I did it wouldn't even fit in the list, just like SVN, which I do use. I'd just take it for granted, like Visual Studio and the .NET Framework.

Justin wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-01-2008 11:52 AM

I share your need to rearrange taskbar items but I had never hear of TaskBar Shuffle...thanks. I use and love Launchy for a app launcher.

Jim wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-01-2008 11:57 AM

Nice list. Everytime I see a list like this (Or Scott Hanselmen's annual list), I find must-have apps for things that I didn't even know I needed..

For VS plug-ins, also check out GhostDoc (www.roland-weigelt.de/ghostdoc) and Regionerate (www.rauchy.net/regionerate). Both are great for code comments and organization.

And Notepad2 (www.flos-freeware.ch/notepad2.html) is good for a simple text editor, but like you say, everyone has their favorites.

ZagNut wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-01-2008 12:01 PM

Some more suggestions:

<a href="download.microsoft.com/.../CmdHerePowertoySetup.exe">Command Prompt Here</a>

Right click on a folder or drive, select this, and you're there at a command prompt.  Unbelievable useful.

<a href="www.wingrep.com/">Windows Grep</a>

For parsing through large amounts of files, etc.

<a href="www.ultrapico.com/.../a>

Great regular expression editor.

<a href="www.getdropbox.com/.../a>

5gig syncing online storage.  I didn't think to much of this at first.  Now I use it so much, I'd be kaput without it.

Donny wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-01-2008 12:14 PM

Effective File Search. I find myself so often in situations where I need to find files quickly either by name or by their contents. With shell integration EFS rock my world.

It's not free but I just had to buy it when the trial was over.

Tommy wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-01-2008 12:40 PM

although I can work without it.  I love Wakoopa.  It lets me know how much time I spend in different programs by keeping track of your active window.

Turns out I spend a lot of time on the computer programming.  Guess I don't just waste all my time on the internet.

Mike G wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-01-2008 1:28 PM

LinqPad is a new favorite of mine.

jrummell wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-01-2008 1:34 PM

Excellent list.  Another tool I use daily is Terminals, an open source tabbed RDP/VNC manager.  www.codeplex.com/Terminals

Niki wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-01-2008 4:01 PM

Great list, I knew only half of those!

I also like Copernic and PowerCalc from the Windows XP PowerToys, and use like Scite as a text editor.

OJ wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-02-2008 6:55 AM

UnixTools :) I can't go without the likes of grep, wget and ls on any box, even if it's Windows.

foobar wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-02-2008 8:11 AM

For years I've dreamed to be able to move around buttons in my task bar. Thank you for the tip.

My recommendations:

1. Wireshark if you do network programming or need to analyze/watch what's going on in your network.

2. The converter of any kind of Office 2007 file to PDF. Download here --

www.microsoft.com/.../details.aspx

A Couple Of Productivity Tips For Microsoft Windows | More Than Scratch The Surface wrote A Couple Of Productivity Tips For Microsoft Windows | More Than Scratch The Surface
on 08-02-2008 9:10 AM

Pingback from  A Couple Of Productivity Tips For Microsoft Windows | More Than Scratch The Surface

Weekly Link Post 53 « Rhonda Tipton’s WebLog wrote Weekly Link Post 53 &laquo; Rhonda Tipton&#8217;s WebLog
on 08-03-2008 6:26 PM

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anon wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-04-2008 3:30 PM

Last time i checked daemon tools was bundled with spyware...

sergiopereira wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-04-2008 3:46 PM

@anon

I believe the adware is optional and you just need to uncheck the toolbar installation, like we do for all those other programs that try to install the yahoo or google toolbars.

Valamas wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 08-10-2008 9:04 PM

www.searchandreplace.com - best S&R program, fast. i have been using it for 10 years.

Sergio Pereira wrote The bug that almost drove me mad, and it's not my bug
on 09-22-2008 10:34 PM

No bug in Windows (XP and 2003) has annoyed me more than the one I just learned how to get rid of. For

Community Blogs wrote The bug that almost drove me mad, and it's not my bug
on 09-22-2008 10:46 PM

No bug in Windows (XP and 2003) has annoyed me more than the one I just learned how to get rid of. For

Allen A wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 06-08-2009 3:50 PM

Here are my votes for priceless tools:

UltraEdit - my text editor of choice.  I use column mode, word-wrap up to 5000 characters a line (useful for debugging Joomla content or extremely long URLs).

Camtasia - for quick-editing narrarated videos, tutorials, and sales demonstrations

Compare It! - differencing tool.  Good at catching lines different by one or two characters. Also has a nice interface for viewing two image files side by side.

WinSCP - FTP client, allows synchronization between remote / local repo.  Also a feature-rich copy feature that you can setup to ignore .SVN, .CVS files when you're deploying a huge folder structure.  A real time-saver.

Parentless wrote re: Software I can't work without
on 07-28-2009 4:13 AM

Ok from the catagory of Completely obvious.

Agent Ransack. At least until Microsoft figures out that when I want to search the contents of all files I really do want to search the contents of all files.

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