Spurred on by this post by Rey Bango, I thought I’d share some of the tools I’m using myself when working on Windows. Rey’s post is great, but since Window-based developers are under-served by the community (even though there are a lot of us) I figured it couldn’t hurt to add my own options. These are almost all in addition to the tools Rey mentions as I use a lot of the same tools in his post.
As I mentioned, I’m going to try to avoid a lot of repetition of Rey’s options in this post (which is why you won’t see Sublime Text mentioned, even though it’s #3 in my code editor triumvirate.) Still, I feel like I have to add in my two cents on VS2012. One of the weird things about the web developer community is that, as a whole, we recognize that the tools we have aren’t as good as they should be. Some of this stuff is hard to do right or do efficiently and doing both is often the domain of the real experts. Then, in the very next breath, some folks will pile onto Microsoft and Adobe with as much vitriol as they can manage. The thing is, and this is something you pick up pretty quickly when you start to work with XAML, Silverlight and Flex refugees on the open web stack, Adobe and Microsoft created pretty sweet tools and APIs. People could get their jobs done. No, they weren’t perfect but their developers felt empowered. It’s surprising that they stick around at all, after they see what our ragtag band has to offer.
VS2012 is one of those tools. Yes, it costs money. Yes, it only runs on Windows. Yes, it’s a multi-GB install. No, it has no street cred. All that said, even out of the box it’s a powerful editor for web tech and, if you take the time to configure it properly it’s ridiculous.
I’ve been using this more and more recently.
This isn’t necessarily a Windows-only thing, of course. But still, it’s worth pointing out as Dreamweaver gets a bad rap.
Yes, it’s a WYSIWYG editor that people have made awful things with for 15 years and people disparage “Dreamweaver developers” as people who don’t know how to hand-code anything.
While it’s still got WYSIWYG features aplenty, it’s a fine, configurable editor with great code hinting, excellent site management tools and plenty of opportunities for automation. Mixed with Adobe Fireworks, you can smoothly move between graphics files and your web editor for even more webtastic power. My go-to editor at home where I’m running CS6.
My utility text editor. If I need to open and manipulate a big text file on Windows I do it with TextPad.
A great editor for Markdown files. Buy the $15 license and get support for Github flavored markdown right on your Windows desktop.
I run CS6 at home. Having a big monitor, mouse, scanner, etc. make for a better experience with my CS6 Creative Cloud subscription. That said, I have a Lenovo Yoga that I spend a lot of time on and having Paint.net on it for basic image manipulation. It’s a great image editing app. It’s not a Photoshop replacement but for an image editing utility it can’t be beat.
If you’ve installed Git for Windows, you’ll know these projects as “Git Bash.” While I’m a fan of Powershell and pin it to my taskbar, I’m glad to have this scaled down Bash prompt available to me as well. It’s surprisingly robust.
I’ve just started using this tool as a replacement for FileZilla and like it. The difference maker for me is that the local window is just an Explorer window, which means that all the customization I have on the Explorer context menu are available right in the WinSCP interface. When you’re trying to put out a fire, it’s a big deal to be able to fall back on consistent patterns (right click> open in Sublime Text, for example)
I don’t get bent out of shape with conflicts because I’ve got WinMerge. It’s just good software.
While I’m as happy to spin up a node server to test locally as the next guy, double clicking a file to start up a quick web server is super convenient. No command line needed. Drop
mongoose.exe in a folder, double click and you’re good to go. Pretty sweet little app.
The Swiss Army knife for compressed files.
Many doors open up if you’ve got common programming languages installed and on your path. I’ve obviously made good use of Java over the years, but I commonly use Node, Python, and even Ruby tools.
While much of the work I do with Amazon S3 and Cloudfront is automated, occasionally you need to get up there and poke around. S3Fox adds an FTP style interface for AWS right into a Firefox tab.
Those are my additions to the Windows web dev canon. What else is out there? What are we missing?