This post is cross posted from Ross’ personal blog over at http://www.rosshawkins.net/
Everyone has their own set of tools and utilities that they can't live without. This is my list. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
These lists are actually interesting to write as they force you to stop and think about what software you're actually using on a daily basis as well as being interesting to look back on and revise in a few months/years from now.
I’m excluding the obvious developer tools such as Visual Studio, SQL Management Studio, Microsoft Office, MSN Messenger, Outlook, and focusing more on additional tools and utilities.
SublimeText – my text editor of choice. Its language highlighting support makes it a versatile development tool, and its functionality as a text editor makes it invaluable for my GTD.
Dropbox – for reasons obvious to anyone who owns multiple computers.
SQL Delta – Visual Studio’s database tools are now included in 2010, and I need to check to see if there’s anything I use SQL Delta for that they can’t do, however this tool has served me very well in saving my countless hours by its seamless syncing of database schemas and data. I still think the UI was designed by Tellytubbies on acid, however this tool has saved me so much time, and at the time was a fraction of the price of Red Gate’s offering (not taking anything away from the Red Gate products, which I know are excellent).
ReSharper – I’ve been a ReSharper fan for quite some time. Things have got to the point now where I often forget where Visual Studio ends and ReSharper begins – that’s possibly good, possibly bad. Either way I know it’s a tool I rely on.
VisualSVN client and server – VisualSVN’s client offers simple IDE integration, which has served me well for many years.
WinMerge – lightweight and open source, yet pretty powerful. WinMerge lets you compare single files or entire directory structures and integrates easily with Subversion for conflict merges.
TK8 Safe – as a developer you end up collecting a lot of sensitive login information. Personally I usually stick to remembering my own usernames and passwords, but when it comes to client information their schemes aren’t always as obvious to me. That’s where TK8 Safe comes in.
Windows Home Server Connector – while this isn’t really a tool or a utility, I wouldn’t be without WHS for backups, media streaming, and remote connectivity.
Windows Live Writer – for the creation of posts.
Fiddler2 – I don’t like having to use Fiddler, because it generally means something is going spectacularly wrong, however it’s an essential tool for any web developer.
Remote Desktop – kind of an obvious one, not exactly chosen for being best of breed. I did play around with Terminals a while back, and while it looked good I found that it didn’t really gel for someone like me who does Windows+R and types ‘mstsc –admin’ rather than clicking on an icon.
mIRC – Ignition uses an IRC channel for communication between staff. IRC is much less intrusive than messaging over MSN or Skype, so it’s perfect for work related chat between remote staff.
PDFCreator and Foxit reader – these 2 aren’t related, but they both help me keep the amount of Adobe bloatware installed to a minimum. I’m using PDFCreator a lot less now since Office’s “Save as PDF" support is now much improved, however it still has its place to help generate PDFs from less conventional spots.
FileZilla – I really don’t do a lot of FTP activity these days, however when I do, FileZilla is the tool of choice. It just does what I need it to.
Cloudberry Explorer and Server backup – while I’m not a heavy user of Amazon S3, I do use it for a few offsite backups, and when doing so I stick to Cloudberry tools. Again, they do exactly what they’re supposed to do.
Spotify and Foobar2000 – while not “tools” as such, these help keep me sane while working. Foobar2000 is a lightweight but powerful music player, and Spotify is an excellent way to listen to music and find new stuff.
Lotus Notes - for occasional maintenance of client legacy systems.
Web applications / services
Hahlo – I like my Twitter clients to be simple and unobtrusive. I’d use Twhirl, however I also like my PC to be free of Adobe Air if possible, so Hahlo it is (combined with a Chrome).
Google Reader with the Lucidica Reader plugin for RSS browsing.
BugNET – issue and bug tracking.
IDS – Ignition’s hand rolled web systems for timesheets, monitoring, and more.
- a Windows Twitter client which can convince me to move away from using Hahlo
- a reason to get more into Powershell as I feel I’m overlooking some powerful utilities there
- a proper non-lite Firebug equivalent for Chrome
- OSX tools and utilities which can convince me to spend more time in OSX land – to be honest, I think I’m just a Windows guy at heart who loves Mac hardware, maybe it’s time to shrink down my OSX partition and use it just as a sandbox for Safari and iTunes.
Reading that back, my list looks pretty boring and straight forward! What are the tools and utilities you can’t live without?