Tuesday, April 07, 2009

6 Free Tools that every Windows Programmer should Install

1. Unlocker

I've talked about unlocker before, it's basically a fabulous little utility that tells you which app is locking your file (and it normally says it's the TortoiseSVN cache which brings me neatly onto my next utility...)

2. TortoiseSVN

The code you produce at work is version controlled, so why isn't the code your make at home? TortoiseSVN is the best way of managing a home version control system as it's a really easy Windows Explorer plugin.

3. Dependency Walker

So you're developing a large application - and by large I'm talking tens or even hundreds of dlls.

You change the public interface on one of the non-dynmically loaded ones and, because you're in a hurry to get a build finished, only rebuild that dll.

Suddenly you can't start you app up any longer.

Dependency walker can tell you which other dlls need to be rebuilt so that they can interface with the changed dll.

4. Notepad++

You're not still using notepad to open .txt files are you?

Notepad++ is far better as it supports custom plugins and has macro recording, yet it still starts up in an acceptable time.

Of all of the freeware editors out there, this is my favourite as it behaves the most like Visual Studio when the Ctrl key is held down and your flicking from word to word.

Other alternatives to the Big Bad Pad are: PSPad or Programmer's file editor, but I've tried them both all I'm sticking with Notepad++.

5. Process Explorer

Want to know what's eating all your processor time? Download Microsoft's pimped-up task manager, Process Explorer.

6. AutoHotkey

There is generally thought to be a 10 fold difference in productivity between poor programmers and expert ones. I believe that this is in no small part down to the experts' use of keyboard shortcuts. Auto Hotkey allows you to set up hotkey scripts to control virtually anything.


AntonioCS said...

Nice list!
One little program to add: Launchy http://www.launchy.net/ (this also works on linux).
With this little program you press alt+space bar and a little prompt window appears. You start to type the name of your program and it shows you the programs you have. Like if I type in F I get firefox. Instead of having dozens of key mappings I just have this little program :)

Sean said...

I wouldn't install launchy on ubuntu though... I would go with Gnome Do instead

Ian Hickman said...

Thanks, I'd not heard of Launchy before but it's certainly something I'll have to investigate.

Steve said...

I'd recommend Executor (http://executor.dk/) - I like it better than Launchy.

Shantanu Kumar said...

Process Manager for Windows (PMW).

Anonymous said...

I personally recommend ExamDiff, a great tool for file difference comparison.

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papichulo said...

Another vote for launchy, got to check out executor though. Otherwise productivity is much higher at home with Mac OS, with the power of the Terminal and Visor, on linux that would be Yakuake.

Also I've moved on from svn to git, since it can be configured in so many more ways.

Notepad+ works, but Textmate on Mac is miles ahead, E - texteditor is the closest for Win i think.

Great list though, thx!

Rob said...

Another +1 for Launchy! I've also found that Humanized Enso is a brilliant equivalent for programs only (not documents etc.)
It doesn't index quite as many things, but its text search is far better than Launchy's (which leaves a lot to be desired IMO) and it provides commands in addition to 'open' such as 'to upper / lower' and is easily extensible.
I look forward to having a play with Executor.

Another one that I love is VirtuaWin - a desktop manager for windows. Nicely configurable, absolutely brilliant and runs like a dream.

Anonymous said...

That's an endless list... :-)
+1 AutoHotkey, a real time saver.
+1 Depends, a precious tool.
+1 Process Explorer with its detailed information. Nearly all Sysinternals (makers of PE) utilities are worth checking.
-1 TortoiseSVN, I moved from it to DVCS (Bazaar, but Mercurial is worth checking too).
I have Notepad++ but I use more SciTE, based on same component, more rustic but lightweight.

About commenter's choices:
I prefer SlickRun, very small, less features but I prefer to add keywords myself.
+1 for VirtuaWin.
I use a lot WinMerge.
CLCL is a great clipboard manager.
FlexibleRenamer is true to its name.
BareGrep, in its free incarnation, is an excellent grep in GUI.
FileMenu Tools is a Swiss knife, very useful.
I can go on for a long time, I will stop here... :-)

Johann Thomas said...

I use SciTE (scintilla.org) more the notepad++

+1 for Ditto Clipboard manager (I have a huge database, 5000+ entries) http://ditto.sf.net/ - can also send clips to buddies ;-)

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