There are many software tools that I use as part of my job as a developer.
Below is a list of the majority of the tools that I find myself regularly turning to to help me do my work. Some are free, others are paid but they are all part of my ever growing toolkit. I hope by sharing them you might find some use in them as well.
First up here are some handy general use utilities and programs. Not specifically for developer but for any power users out there.
Chocolatey - Goofy name but a powerful tool to have. Chocolatey is a package manager for windows. Once installed you can use Chocolatey to install most of the other tools that I list below.
Paint.Net - Photoshop is overkill for most developers needs. Paint.Net is your perfect free app for performing basic image editing.
7-Zip - 7-Zip is the archiver app of choice for developers. It supports creating archives in formats: 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR and ZIP. As well it can extract from: ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, CramFS, DEB, DMG, FAT, HFS, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NSIS, NTFS, RAR, RPM, SquashFS, UDF, VHD, WIM, XAR and Z. Did I mention is 100% free and won’t nag you to buy it!
CCleaner - CCleaner should be a must have tool for all Windows users, not just developers. It deletes temp files from Windows and browsers, registry fixer, app uninstaller, tools to disable startup programs, etc. Download it, install it and learn how to use it to make your system faster.
TeamViewer - The best free PC remote control and access software/service out there. Install the host server on any computer you need to have access to and the clients can connect. They run a central server that tracks the computer IP address so you never need to know addresses to log in. Just log into your account and every running computer will be listed for you to connect to.
Gpg4Win - Your one and only tool for secure file and email encryption. Install it, learn it, use it. Security and privacy are important and there is no excuse for not having this global standard tool.
VLC Media Player - If you need a media player that actually works and isn’t some bloatware junk then check out VLC.
Adblock Plus - No matter the browser of your choice you need a solid ad blocker… unless you really like having websites full of obnoxious and annoying ads! Install this for your Internet Explorer browser.
uBlock - For those using Firefox and/or Chrome I would suggest using uBlock over Adblock Plus. It’s smaller, faster and a bit more agressive in the blocking of ads.
Disconnect - Disconnect is a Chrome browser plugin that is used to disable websites that track your online activity.
Here are tools that every developer regardless of the particual language they may use will find useful on a windows system.
Git - Git is a free / open source distributed version control system. It’s the current winner in VCSs and you should learn to use it. If you need a way to manage code this is it. Plus learning to use Git means you can setup an GitHub account and share all your open source.
MarkdownPad - A very nice freemium MarkDown editor for Windows. The basic free version is good enough to get the job done most of the time. If you find you are writing a lot of markdown documents, especially those that make use of GitHub’s markdown flavor it can be worth paying the small fee for the pro version.
Evernote - The best cloud based note taking app you will find. More than just a basic notepad, Evernote includes support for text, photos, audio, handwriting, file attachments, todos, and much more. Everything is in the cloud so you can access your data with desktop apps, browser and mobile apps. It even support processing attachments, including doing OCR on images, so that you can search in all your notes. The basic free version is more than powerful to start out and give it try. If you find it useful and need more powerful tools then it costs $50/year.
LINQPad - LINQPad is a tool for writing and testing LINQ and C# code snippets.
Notepad++ - The build it Windows notepad app will do in a pinch but any dev worth his chops needs to find a real plain text editor. There are many out there, I’ve been a fan of Notepad++ for several years now.
Fiddler - If you are a web developer there are plenty of times you will find you need to know exactly what data is flowing between the browser and the server. Modern browsers are getting better at providing tools to help you but Fiddler is the best proxy that will let you see exactly what’s going on with http requests.
WinMerge - My favorite diff and merge tool for windows. Fully compatible with Git so no excuses not to try it out.
VirtualBox - Microsoft’s virtualization produce Hyper-V is great but it’s a bit bloated and doesn’t always the have the best support for all OSes out there. VirtualBox is an open source product that’s easy to install and run all your virtual Machines on.
TextCrawler - TextCrawler is a fantastic tool for anyone who works with text files. This powerful program enables you to instantly find and replace words and phrases across multiple files and folders. It utilises a flexible Regular Expression engine to enable you to create sophisticated searches, preview replace, perform batch operations, extract text from files and more.
SoapUI - SoapUI is an open source API testing tool. It supports multiple protocols including: SOAP, REST, HTTP, JMS, AMF and JDBC. If you work with web services this is the tool to have to directly query and test them.
Visual Studio Tools
For all you Microsoft .Net Developers out there here’s what I use
Visual Studio - It’s the developement environment of choice for Windows Developers. It used to cost a small fortune to buy but starting with Visual Studio 2015, Microsoft is releasing a free version called “Visual Studio Community”. It’s a true version not some stripped down app that is just licenced for non enterprise businesses.
ReSharper - Jetbrains ReSharper is my goto for developer productivity. It automates most of what can be automated in your coding. It finds compiler errors, runtime errors, redundancies, code smells, and possible improvements right as you type, suggesting corrections for them. It’s not free but if you are a professional developer you shouldn’t have a problem justifying spending $250 to buy a tool that will make you a better developer.
GhostDoc - GhostDoc is a Visual Studio extension that automatically generates XML documentation comments for methods and properties based on their type, parameters, name, and other contextual information.
Nuget - Nuget is a package manager for software development. If you are writting code that uses 3rd party libraries, Nuget is the tool to manage them.
AutoHistory - AutoHistory is a neat little plugin that you can configure to take snapshots of your code and then rollback changes. Think of it as an ultra light version control system.
Productivity Power Tools 2013 - Another required extension that provides a bunch of small but useful addons to the Visual Studio IDE.
Obviously, this isn’t a complete list and I’m sure some of you will disagree with my choice of tools. Let me know if you have any other tools you think people should know about.
Inspiration for this post is from Scott Hanselman’s Developer & Power Users Tool List