I recently burned up my development laptop (it literally emitted smoke from the vents). After pulling the hd I was unable to get it to spin with a USB device attached to a home tower. Since I was on a deadline I had to rush and buy a new laptop (Turion 64 x2) running Vista.

After I installed my required applications VS2005/2008, Sql Server editions client tools, Adobe CS3, and source control clients: I am wondering what list of “must haves” developer tools that are out there these days? I’m a big fan of Fiddler and LinqPad, but I am wondering what I am missing?

[edit]I read the other question here and I am aware of Hanselman's list. I was not specific enough in my original question. By "these days" I meant new and latest tools (perhaps available only 64 bit), which in geek years might just be 12 days, I dunno. :)[/edit]

+3  A: 

A nightly build of Resharper

+12  A: 

Notepad++ for sure

+4  A: 

I like Whole Tomato's Visual Assist X plug-in for Visual Studio. I think you get the "most" out of it when programming in C++ (and especially older versions of visual studio), but there are some additional syntax highlighting and refactoring tools, plus a decent search based on context / scope.

+1  A: 

I cannot live without Eclipse and Mylyn

Adam Mika

Komodo Edit, Cygwin (ssh, cat, less, sed, grep, etc.), Python, TortoiseSVN, TortoiseCVS

Anders Sandvig
+2  A: 


+4  A: 

A similar question was been asked here. I recommended the Scott Hanselman's 2007 Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Windows there and I also recommend it to you.

Marek Grzenkowicz
+2  A: 

A good editor and your compiler of choice.

Sure, some tools make your job a little easier. Developing .Net applications without using Visual Studio would be more convoluted, but I would bet that at the end of the task, using only a text editor and the csc compiler, you would have a guru like comprehension of the language in no time at all. You would learn things that other people may never get into.

Of course, a good debugger helps (Also built into VS). I use Komodo for Perl development purely for the debugging tools involved. Even though I still prefer to edit the code using e-TextEditor.

+3  A: 

Subversion + TortoiseSVN

+10  A: 

In no particular order (I'm a .NET web developer if you can't tell from the list):

  • Resharper - Keeps my code slim and clean!
  • Reflector - Every now and then you need to figure out how the heck something is working in the .NET library.
  • Firebug - Every web developer has this installed because it makes markup and css debugging so much easier.
  • Tortoise SVN - By far the best version control system I have ever used. Absolutely no complaints about it.
  • NUnit - Unit testing that doesn't get in your way. Plus it integrates nicely with Resharper!
  • Notepad - For whatever reason, I can't shake the nostalgic feeling I get using this. Still my go-to application for several things (to-do lists, quick side notes, quick and dirty clipboard, etc.).
Kevin Pang
+1  A: 

TextPad rocks! And CSSViewer (FF plug-in) is nice. Heard Firebug is even better, since it allows you to edit, too, but haven't tried it.

Also, virtual machines. I'm using using MS Virtual PC (w/ VM additions) right now for multiple projects and it suits my purposes well. I'm sure there are better vm solutions, too, I just haven't had to look into them.

CrossLoop and Skype for collaboration/pair programming (particularly for remote employees).

AgentRansak for text/file/foler searching. I haven't used this to it's full extent, since I'm new to it, so I don't know how robust it can be. It works well for what I use it for, though. I am much more familiar with TextPad's search/replace functionality (which rocks!).

  1. Another vote for notepad++
  2. Firebug or the dev toolbar in IE
  3. Lifehackers Texter (for text expansion)
  4. I couldn't live my life on a computer without humanized's Enso product
+1  A: 

Notepadd++, Mercurial, FireFox, FireBug

+6  A: 
  • Winamp (I love coding with music playing in the background)
  • Coffee
+1  A: 

Notepad2, e.TextEditor, Textmate

WinSplit Revolution

Google, Pandora




Visual Studio if .net app

+1  A: 
Peter Burns
+2  A: 

Vim, Cygwin, TortoiseSVN, Eclipse. SoapUI is an awesome tool if you're working with SOAP web services. I also find TCPTrace a very handy little tool.

+36  A: 

Let me be general [then specific]:

  1. Your IDE of choice [VS 2008 here]
  2. Your debugger [It is usually part of your IDE, but sometimes WinDbg is needed]
  3. Its plugins for refactoring and source control [Resharper 4+ and Ankh SVN 2+]
  4. Your OS's addons for source control [Tortoise SVN]
  5. A better Diff and Merge Tool to plug into the above SCM tools [WinMerge]
  6. A fast loading text editor for when your IDE is too much [vim, Notepad++]
  7. If you're doing web development, get tools for that [Firefox 3 with Add-ons: Web Developer, Firebug, TamperData, Poster, Firecookie, FireFTP, FirePHP, Rainbow for Firebug, ReloadEvery, Selenium IDE]
  8. Requisite tools for working with text [GNU TextUtils, via cygwin or]
  9. Scripting tools [Perl, Python, zsh, all those GNU base packages in cygwin]
  10. A Regular Expression testing tool for when your eyes hurt [Expresso, RegexBuddy]

For Java I swap out 1 and 3 with Eclipse, and its plugins for Maven and SVN, I haven't found a refactoring plug in... you'd think I'd use IntelliJ IDEA but I never started using it.

GNU TextUtils has moved to CoreUtils here:
Jonathan Parker
I know. I am only interested in the text part, and while cygwin provides only coreutils (6.10.0) gnuwin32 provides coreutils and textutils (5.3.0) packages.
+3  A: 

For Windows work:

Beyond Compare - great diffing tool, works well with files and folders.

Launchy - lets me start programs without moving my hands from the keyboard.

Brian Whitlock
In Windows Vista and Windows 7, you can just hit the windows key then type the name of your program (or whatever is enough to highlight it) then just hit enter. Shouldn't need Launchy anymore.
Austin Kelley Way
+1  A: 

For Python stuff, a good text editor (TextMate on OS X, [g]vim on Linux, Programmers Notepad on Windows), VCS (I'm mainly using git currently).. That's about it..

A bit of a stretch to call it a dev-tool, but searching Google for "python [module name]" is incredibly useful (I use it even though I can put the cursor over the import abc module and be taken to the pydoc page, I always found the first-google-result much better than the PyDoc page TextMate invokes..

I use PyLint to check I've not done anything stupid, but I'd hardly consider it 'must have' (I mostly use it for keeping consistent white-spacing, after commands and around x = 123 statements and so on). I'm also considering learning pdb (python debugger), but I've always found the odd print statement, or the logging module (in larger scripts) more than adequate.

..that's about it.. Text editor, VCS, module documentation.

+1  A: 

You can easily perform very good diff ing using Eclipse. See

Amit Kumar
+1  A: 

To manage the programming tasks, I've used ToDoList from time to time, although there are times when I prefer Joel's Excel sheet for managing tasks (I like the elegance of a simple flat list).

Carl Seleborg
+6  A: 

Beyond Compare: a diff tool is always a must.

+1  A: 

For Skype:

NICE! I have been waiting for a library like that. Very, very cool stuff, indeed.
Ian Patrick Hughes
+1  A: 

I use these tools:

ClipX for the clipboard.

UltraMon for multiple monitors.

RegexBuilder for for creating regular expressions in .NET.

Taskbar Shuffle for shuffling windows.

Jonathan Parker
Nice call on the UltraMon. I'm a big fan of it.
Ian Patrick Hughes
+1  A: 
  1. Firebug - to debug CSS, change classes, styles on the fly without reloading the page. To interactively debug Javascript by setting breakpoints. To debug AJAX calls.
  2. YSlow or Google Page Speed - it is a firebug plugin, it shows you why your web page takes time to load. Breaks up the time into parallel threads, image loading, CSS loading, etc. Also gives a list of suggestions of how you can improve the page load speed.
  3. Firefox Xpath plugin - Lets you right click on any webpage and find elements by XPath.
  4. Charles Web Debugger - a simple [windows] application which lists all the HTTP traffic originating from your Firefox or IE browsers. Very useful for debugging web applications (especially with AJAX calls)
Vineet Manohar
I rely on those really heavily, but I wonder when IE will introduce some sort of similar tools. The lack of development tools for the web is why FireFox still really dominates as the "killer platform" when testing.
Ian Patrick Hughes
+1  A: 

Ethereal/Wireshark for looking at your network packets.

  1. Vim
  2. Python
  3. Git
  4. A huge collection of music ;)
+1  A: 

Nobody named one of my go-to tools - DbVisualizer. I like having a database agnostic tool that works with every major database out there and I don't have to keep learning new tools as I switch between Sybase, MySQL, Oracle, etc.

It not only does the job, you don't end up feeling like you're working with a least common denominator tool that only supports a minimal subset of stuff.

John Munsch
I had used a light version of that tool on a MySql project years ago, I think. Maybe it was a free version? I would be interested in checking it out again.
Ian Patrick Hughes
+1  A: 

ide: visual studio / netbeans (zip file!, almost portable)

editor: notepad++ (portable) with monaco font

file comparison: winmerge (portable)

source control: subversion, tortoise

ticket control: redmine

file manager: free commander (portable)

explorer: IE, FF (portable), chrome (portable), iron (chrom without google crap, also portable), qtweb, arora,

FF plugins: firebug, web developer, xmarks

imclient: pidgin

mail client: gmail

download manager: free download manager (portable)

sites: STACKOVERFLOW!!!, gotapi... and google, all the time...

miscelaneous: launchy (can't live without it!)

virtualization: virtual box (I have a machine image for every environment)

office: openoffice (portable)

lamp stack: xammp (portable!)

disk usage: windirstat (portable), scanner (portable)

pdf viewer: foxit (portable), sumatrapdf (portable)

uncompressor: 7-zip portable

M$ sql comparison tool: sql delta

M$ sql management: visual studio sql manager


mysql management: phpmyadmin, manager provided with mysql

uninstaller utility: revo unistaller (portable)

registry cleaner: ccleaner (portable)

ftp: filezilla (portable)

as you may have noticed, I have a special predilection for portable applications...


Also have a task management and project management tools like trac basecamp etc...

You know, I love BaseCamp. For a lot of reasons, really.But the best one is that it proves with good software and design you can move into a vertical and still make an impression. It wasn't like there wasn't shared project management resources available before BaseCamp. They Just killed when they developed and launched it.
Ian Patrick Hughes
+1  A: 



true x-mouse behaviour under Win 7 (by manual registry hack)

process explorer from sysinternals