This is my first blog post as an employee of EMC Consulting where I have recently joined as a Senior Practice Consultant, specialising in Microsoft technologies. One of the time consuming jobs when moving to a new company as a software developer is setting up your development environment.
Each developer has their own preferences and below I’ve included a list of my environment as an aide-mémoire of sorts, with the specific add-ins and tools that I use regularly. Hopefully you may find this useful when setting up your own machine. I’ve included the links to the downloads where possible.
Please drop me an email or leave a post if there are any tools you think I’ve missed out.
Windows 7 64 bit
My new laptop came with Windows XP, which was a real step back as far as I was concerned, especially as my laptop had a good development spec with 4Gb of RAM, so a 64 bit OS was needed so that all of the RAM could be used. The Internal Systems kindly upgraded and other than a few minor driver tweaks has gone very smoothly.
Microsoft Office Suite
The usual suspects: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook.
A software architect’s dream package that turns all those hastily drawn whiteboard diagram and boxes in to something that looks almost professional.
I’ve probably never swore and cursed a software product as much as Project – usually 10 minutes before a business meeting when you are trying to print out the plan and Project’s bizarre print options mean that you plan is now in 2 point Helvetica and looks like a satellite map of the Arizona desert. However, it still one of the most useful project scheduling tool, no matter how much I curse it.
Microsoft Visual Studio
The workhorse of any Microsoft developer. I usually install a couple of previous version which helpfully installs the relevant frameworks. Usually best to install the older version first. Also, I have had to install the old .NET Framework 2.0 and possible 1.1 if working with legacy systems.
Visual Studio Power Tools
Some great little tools in here that can help you in your day-to-day jobs.
Thanks to Matt Hall of EMC for introducing me to this little gem during my job interview. It massively simplifies the construction of XML comments during coding, and intelligently creates a rough draft of your comments which can save you a lot of time.
Many developers were left in the lurch when NDoc folded as a open source comment compilation tool. Fortunately, Microsoft came to the rescue with Sandcastle which compiles XML comments in to human readable help files.
Visual Studio 2008 SDK
Lots of helpful tools, specifically the MS Help 2 compiler which you will need to compile your development documentation using Sandcastle
Redgate (nee Lutz Roeder) .NET Reflector
A great tool that allows you to reverse engineer the source code of a .NET compiled DLL. Especially useful when you are trying to work out how to integrate with specific Microsoft Framework modules and the documentation isn’t clear.
Visual Studio Colour Schema settings
My personal set up for Visual Studio is here. I prefer a black background when coding and always export these settings to my new machine. I’ve found that I very rarely get eye strain when using these setting.
Visual Studio Macro – Code project region code
This is a fantastic little Macro that automates the construction of Region tags in code. Each version of Visual Studio gets better at providing this type of functionality, specifically using snippets, but I still like this handy little Macro even though it is over 5 years old now.
Microsoft Code Contracts
This is a relatively new addition to the .NET Framework, and will probably be rolled up in to the main framework very soon, but I think it’s going to be an important requirement for new .NET projects.
Microsoft Silverlight 4 Tools for Visual Studio 2010
Another relative newcomer to my build. Silverlight and RIA Service are starting to play a big part in front-end development, and this add-in is a must for anyone wanting to understand or use this technology.
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Developer Edition
As a Microsoft dev, SQL plays a important role in most systems that I design (although Window’s Azure may change that in the future). Even if you don’t install the server components, the SQL Server Management Studio and Business Intelligence Development Studio are a must.
The expression suite is very helpful when designing front-end applications. Several times when building WPF applications I’ve used Blend to edit the XAML directly as found Visual Studio wanting when trying to design the WPF front end. Blend solves that problem and it integrates in to TFS so can check out and check in code the same as Visual Studio. Expession 4 is now out, so I’m looking forward to the new features.
Tortoise SVN (Subversion client)
One of the best subversion tools which integrates in to the Windows shell. I use is primarily to access open source code projects on google code, but it previously doubled as an ad-hoc document repository system for a previous project I worked on.
Wireshark (previously Ethereal)
A fantastic open source tool that has helped me on many projects. Wireshark is an open source packet sniffer that allows you to analyse the network traffic and decode and analyse the relevant protocols
A really useful ZIP and compression utility. One really great feature of this utility is that is can uncompress and expand ISO DVD/CD images.
Amazing tools from SysInternals, Microsoft like them so much that they bought the company. A few that I use on a regular basis are below:
The “other” browsers
Although I use IE most of the time (IE8) the other browsers are quite useful. Chrome is much faster at start up and has the search bar integrated which is useful when I need to search quickly. Firefox has a great set of plug in which can be useful for specific task, however I find it dreadfully slow on start up, so it doesn’t get used very often.
Nokia PC Suite / Ovi Suite
If you use a Nokia phone, you’re going to need to install this software. Confusingly, Nokia have now introduced the Ovi suite which does the same this, but has a cooler interface.
At some point Apple will insist you install this product if you want to use one of their devices. You might as well get it over with and install it now.
Windows Live Writer
My blogging tool of choice. Good integration with the various blogging engines, with a nice simple interface.
Adobe stuff …
Adobe Reader http://get.adobe.com/uk/reader/
Adobe Air http://get.adobe.com/air/
Some one is going to send you a PDF document or a link to a flash game at some point. Install now and save time later.
Great for social media as it allows you to manage and consolidate your twitter and Facebook feeds.
VLC Media Player
Not really necessary on a development machine, but useful all the same.
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