Having laboured under the fickle, unreliable Windows Vista (that came bundled with my new laptop) for the last 4 months, I was delighted to give the free Windows 7 upgrade that I was entitled to a go after it eventually dropped through the letterbox. My excitement soon became frustration as the “straightforward” upgrade process proved to be anything but – software that I had on my machine was preventing the upgrade from completing successfully. A clean factory restore of the original Windows Vista followed by a clean upgrade to Windows 7 did the trick, but at the expense of losing all of the installed applications. And so I was presented with the task that every developer secretly enjoys but whines about, that of installing fresh copies all the applications that I frequently use.
Below is the list of applications that I loaded on to my new Windows 7 machine. Please let me know if you think my life could be improved by using anything not listed here!
(Note: Most of the applications that I’ve listed here can be auto-magically downloaded and installed with a tool called Ninite . Handy.)
- Firefox – A fantastic nimble browser until you burden it under the weight of about 20 “must have” extensions…
- Google Chrome – My new favourite web browser now that it supports extensions.
- Opera – Good and fast, but hardly ever use it for some reason.
- Safari – For testing.
- IETester – A tool that allows you to see what your web pages look like in Internet Explorer versions 5.5 up to 8.
- Eclipse with PDT – My IDE of choice, but still feels a bit clunky.
- Editplus 3 with extras. – I have been using this text editor for nearly as long as I have been coding websites. I’ve tried many times to shift all my development work to a full IDE such as Aptana or Eclipse, but I end up coming back to Editplus time and time again because of its speed and ease of use.
- jQuery API browser – Much easier and quicker than navigating around the online API reference.
- Win Merge – A great file compare tool. Integrates with Editplus nicely.
- ColorZilla – A colour picker for websites.
- CSS Usage – Allows you to scan multiple pages of a site to see which CSS rules are used.
- DownThemAll! – A download manager.
- Dust-Me Selectors – Compare the DOM to the CSS and finds all unused CSS rules.
- FirePHP – FirePHP enables you to log to your Firebug Console using a simple PHP method call.
- HTML Validator – Adds HTML validation inside Firefox and Mozilla. Aim for the green tick!
- Image Zoom – Allows you to zoom in on images on a web page.
- KGen (for SEO) – KGen is an extension that allows you to see what keywords are strong on visited web pages.
- Live HTTP Headers – If you haven’t got Fiddler 2 installed, then this is a basic alternative.
- Rank Checker (for SEO) – Allows you to easily check your website rankings in Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
- Screen Grab – Allows you to take full web page screenshots, beyond the visible area.
- SeoQuake (for SEO) – A suite of SEO tools.
- Shareaholic – So useful it should be bundled with the browser as standard!
- Web Developer – Lost its crown as the most useful Firefox extension to Firebug, but still has some unique and useful features.
- YSlow – Analyzes web pages and why they’re slow based on rules for high performance web sites.
- Paint.NET – One up from MS Paint. Handy for cropping images.
- Shrink-O-Matic – For optimising images. It takes a bunch of images and squeezes every surples byte out of them.
- Free Mind – A light-weight, free, mind-mapping tool.
- Open Office – Not quite as slick as the latest version of MS Office, but still very impressive.
- Visio – Still the best flow charting tool. Although there is an open-source one called Dia which is pretty good.
- Xenu Link Sleuth – An essential tool for understanding exactly how big sites hang together. Great for finding obsolete and deadlinks.
Utilities and tools
- 7zip – The best free, multi-format file compression utility.
- AutoRuns – Offers a load more options over the Windows msconfig tool.
- CCleaner – Crap cleaner
- Defraggler – Allegedly better than the disk defragmenter bundled with Windows.
- Fences – Desktop organiser. Wicked.
- Fiddler 2 – This tool is amazing. What it does is watch all of the HTTP calls that are made when loading a webpage and record every detail about it, but what makes it particularly powerful is that you can set up a range of filters to record only what your interested in. Essential for debugging and testing.
- File Zilla – FTP client
- Greenshot – For taking all kinds of screenshots. Way better than the classic combo of hitting the PrtScn button and pasting into MS Paint!
- HTTP Watch – Similar to Fiddler 2, but a bit more clunky!
- Java Runtime Environment – Download it before you’re prompted to!
- Process Explorer – Shows you information about which handles and DLLs processes have opened or loaded.
- Recuva – Enables you to recover files that you have mistakenly deleted.
- Revo Uninstaller – Removes every trace of a program.
- Robo Form – Enables online forms to be auto filled.
- Skype – Messenger and voice communicator.
- Spybot – Search and Destroy – Removes spyware and other sorts of undesirables from your PC.
- Subversion with Tortoise – I’m familiar with this, but many of the folk in the know seem to be making the switch to GIT these days. New years resolution, learn GIT.
- TeraCopy – The built in windows copy and move commands + 1.
- Tweet Deck – Plugin in your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn account details, and you never have to visit the actual sites again.
- VideoLAN – Plays just about every video format that has ever existed, probably even some that don’t as well…
- WinDirStat – Helps you understand visually exactly what is hogging all your hard disk space.
- WinHTTrack – For copying an entire website.
- Windows Grep – The best find and replace tool that I’ve come across.
Where would a developer be without his tunes?