Tool List 2008

I recently received the opportunity to reinstall my operating system on my work laptop.  Good times, completely hosed.  So I thought I would take a moment to document what went back onto my laptop after the format and reinstall.  Essentially, this is my productivity tools list.

Operating system

  • Windows Vista.  I’ll take some flack for this one, but I still like this OS.  And the boot time is screaming fast before you load every tool/service under the sun on it.

Tools and Utilities

  • Windows Live Writer.  I’m listing this one because that is what I’m writing the blog post with.  Simply the best blog writer that I have found so far.  Works with WordPress, Blogger, and many more tools.  There are a few other tools in the Live suite that are also cool.  SkyDrive, Photo Gallery, and that  messenger thing are nice.
  • Skype.  This is the reason I don’t use Messenger anymore.  I have Skype, which does the same thing plus more.  This tool allowed me to finally drop my home phone (coupled wih a pair of cell phones).
  • Office 2007.  Word, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, and PowerPoint.  There is other stuff there, oh well.  Those are the ones I use.
    • Xobni.  This is an add-on for Outlook that gives you metrics and stuff for email.  If you live in Outlook, you will love this tool. (Look, it is inbox spelled backwards!)
    • Microsoft Office Save as PDF. The law suite over this tool made me hate Adobe forever.  This should be installed with Office, no excuse.
  • SlickRun.  There are many launchers out there.  This one is simply an oldie-but-goodie.
  • SysInternals.  All of it. Easier now that there is a single download for all of the tools.  AutoRun and ProcExplorer are the ones I find myself using more and more.
  • Paint.Net.  Simply a better paint program.
  • FoxIt Reader.  Pdf Reader.  Adobe Acrobat might not be as bad as it used to be, I don’t care.  This pdf reader is better than Acrobat ever was.
  • FireFox.  Web Browser.  I’m not so much anti-IE7 as I am pro-Firefox.  When it comes to picking technologies, I believe in following the most vibrant community.  That is Firefox.  Better CSS support and faster Javascript doesn’t hurt either.  But it is the add-ons where Firefox really shines…
    • FireBug:  Firefox add-on. I’m a web developer.  If you are a web developer and don’t have this add-on you aren’t taking yourself seriously.  Hands down the best browser add-on on the planet.  In fact, the IE8 team liked it so much they stole it outright (and I couldn’t be happier).
      • Y-Slow: an add-on just for FireBug, create by Yahoo.  Designed to tell you why your web page is so blasted slow.
    • Read-it-later: add on that allows you to save bookmarks and share them between multiple computers.  Very well done.
    • Adblock Plus:  Ads? What ads?
  • 7-Zip: Zip Compression tool, and free.  I like as much as WinZip or I wouldn’t list it.
  • FileZilla: FTP client.  Not everyone needs one of these…but I do.
  • Google Chrome.  I’m a glutton for punishment. I install every windows browser out there.  And I kind of like this one.  It has some significant differences from FireFox.
  • Opera.  See above.  Probably the most standards compliant browser out there.
  • SilverLight.  I’m a Microsoft fan box.  I admit it.  And this one is just cool.
  • TeraCopy.  Copying files is a major weakness in Vista (and a core utility of what a OS is supposed to do well).  TeraCopy fixes some of that.
  • Notepad++.  Because someone had to make a better notepad.  I used to use ConTEXT (I loved ConText), but the updates have stopped.  Plus the add-ons for Notepad++ do so much more.
  • Free Download Manager. You might not realize how much better downloading files from the Internet could be, but this tool is just that.
  • twirl. My twitter tool of choice.  Written in Adobe Air, it is a good ambassador for the product.
  • Picasa.  Picture management and adjustment tool so easy even my wife loves it.

Developer Tools

I am a software developer.  My job centers around the windows/.net universe.  WinForms, WebForms, WPF, Silverlight, etc.  That is what I do.  Don’t be mad if your favorite Java/Ruby/PHP/Objective C tool isn’t in this list.

  • Visual Studio 2008.  Obviously.  This is my work horse.  But I did not install Visual Studio 2005.  I’m hoping to make a clean break away from that one.
  • ReSharper.  I don’t code without it.  But, if you have DevExpress CodeRush and Refactor I give you a free pass.
  • SQL Server 2008.  Did not install 2005 (yet), and hope not to.  This is still my go-to database of choice.  BTW: this also installs PowerShell out of the box.
  • Expression Suite.  Especially Blend.  I’m heading more and more to Silverlight and WPF.  I need this tool.
  • TortoiseSVN.  Source control UI for SubVersion.  I love this one.
  • Visual SVN Server.  If you need a Subversion server, and you are on windows, this is the one to get.
  • SourceGear DiffMerge. I love TortoiseSVN.  I hate their merge tool.  This one make the pain go away.
  • Reflector.  I can’t believe that .net developers still don’t know about this tool.  RedGate like it so much they bought it.
  • CSS Vista.  Quick way to check your CSS in FireFox and IE…and adjust the css.  Wonderful tool.
  • Free CSS Toolbox.  I just started playing with this tool a month back.  Very nice.
  • dotTrace. Another JetBrains tool makes the list.  Best .Net profiler I’ve tried.
  • TeamCity. Another JetBrains tool make the list. Continuous Integration.  If you don’t know what that is, you should look it up.
  • NUnit.  There are other Unit Testing frameworks out there, but I keep coming back to this one.  Mainly because of ReSharper integration.  Looks like version 2.5 will be released soon as well.
  • Rhino Mocks.  If you say you are TDD, but don’t know about mock objects, you are not TDD.
  • LinqPad.  You would think this is LINQ specific, but it isn’t.  This is a full on .Net notepad.
  • Fiddler2. A Web traffic debugger.  When you need it, you really need it.
  • WireShark.  Similar to Fiddler, but covers anything that travels over a network card.
  • Sybase IAnywhere.  This is my companies standard database.  Not a bad tool, but the management tools could be a lot better.
  • VMWare Player.  In development, virtual machines are a fact of life.
  • Window Virtual PC 2007.  See above.
  • MyGeneration.  Code Generators are cool.
  • CodeSmith Pro. See above…but with a better syntax for creating your own custom files.
    • Note: T4 comes with Visual Studio.  I’m still learning that one.
  • Apex SQL Studio.  Similar to RedGate.  Does cool stuff with SQL Server.  I’m sticking with this until I can get Visual Studio Team System Data Dude.
  • DaemonTools.  Runs a CD image as a drive.  Without this, my MSDN subscription would be worthless.

Presentation Stuff

  • ZoomIt. Blow up part of your screen so people in the back row can see what your doing.
  • Camtasia 3.  I don’t use this nearly enough.  Screen recorder with sound.

OK, that is my list.  Let me know what I missed.

14 thoughts on “Tool List 2008

  1. Word of warning on Daemon Tools, since version 4.x (the version that works with Vista) the free version contains adware. So, I’ve switched to MagicDisc (and Virtual Clone Drive for my Windows 7 CTP machine).

  2. Nice list, I use a good deal of those tools. Here’s a few of my own.

    Firefox add-on Web Developer Toolbar – A lot like Firebug, but focused on HTML and CSS more than javascript. Firebug has started doing some of the things that WDT does, but there are still nice features for this add-on.

    http://chir.ag/projects/name-that-color/ – Name that color. Convert named colors (list compiled from Wikipedia, includes CSS and the common print color schemes) into Hex codes (and vice versa). Simple.

    http://gskinner.com/RegExr/ – An online regular expression tool. Does a lot of what RegEx Buddy and the ilk do… but for free and online. Good for when you need to whip up a quick RegEx.

    http://www.lipsum.com/ – Because I’m too damned lazy to write my own filler text.

  3. I would add the following:

    System:
    Altap Salamander (http://www.altap.cz/) — file manager;
    EditPad Pro (http://www.editpadpro.com/) — pretty powerfull text editor with easy customization;
    Acronis True Image Home (http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/products/trueimage/) — system and data backups;

    Development:
    Sparx Enterprise Architect (http://www.sparxsystems.com.au/products/ea/index.html) — modelling tool (UML, database, etc.);
    Araxis Merge Professional (http://www.araxis.com/merge/) — diff and merge tool;
    RegEx Buddy (http://www.regexbuddy.com/) — regular expressions;
    WinDbg (http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/devtools/debugging/default.mspx) — advanced Win32 and .NET debugging;

  4. Surprisingly similar to mine

    Beyond Compare – Diff/Merge tool
    Launchy – Launch tool
    TextPad
    SnagIT

    and try the HTTPFox traffic monitor add-on for Firefox (Fiddler for FF)

  5. @Don, I’ll have to look into the Daemon Tools thing.

    @Hadi, good list. Some of those just come down to preference.
    About HTTPFox, FireBug actually comes with a nice traffic piece in the console tab. That usually works for me. But I’ll look into that one.

  6. For me it’s a mix of WinForm & Web, not so much WPF yet. 🙁

    I do tend to be using regular expressions from time to time so I like to have a copy of Expresso handy.

    For Mocking I used to use Rhino, now I use Moq.

  7. You should also check out Gist (www.gist.com). It works with Outlook as well as Gmail and any other web-based information source (LinkedIn, etc.) combining your contacts with news about them.

    Robert
    Gist, Inc.

  8. You should take a look at these:

    – Altap Salamander (NC-like file manager)
    – SmartSVN (excellent SVN client, much better than TortoiseSVN)

    Helge

  9. “Code Generators are cool.”

    I respectfully disagree. Objects should be generated, not code.

  10. Hey Chris, as one of the product managers for SQL Anywhere I’d love to hear from you on any feedback you have regarding the iAnywhere tools (I assume you are using SQL Anywhere).
    Feel free to drop me a line.

  11. Hi!
    I just read your post and find it most interesting and useful (I used your list to try some of the software you listed)…the Free Download Manager is truly great i just tried it out ..and also I was just wondering ..i see you mentioned CSS Vista here ..so I was just wondering …do you know is there something similar for Microsoft XP users..cause I am guessing this only works on Vista

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The opinions and content expressed here are my own and not those of my employer.