The programs what I run

by Matt 16. December 2006 18:45

I've recently installed Vista, and as such have had to reinstall all the apps and tweaks that I'm used to having. In the spirit of Scott Hanselman's Ultimate List of Every Program Ever Released, here's a slightly more manageable (shorter) list of tools that I actually find useful. This is as much for my benefit as anyone else's. I always forget what I've got installed.

Internet Tools

Developer/Power User Tools

  • Visual Studio 2005. Not yet at the just released SP1 - I'm probably going to jump in with the Vista specific beta SP1 Update (when it lands). Should hopefully fix some of the many issues with Vista (pretty much all of which I've somehow managed to dodge). SP1 will include built in support for Web Application Projects. Not sure about Web Deployment Projects. If not, I'll need to install that.
  • Team Explorer. Team Foundation System client. Messy install. Had to disable UAC, then found a better way of kicking of the install that might not have needed that. Got there in the end.
  • .net 3 Visual Studio extension bits - WCF & WPF and WF.
  • Windows SDK. If you want to develop for Vista, you'll need this (and it's RTM now)
  • Platform SDK for Windows Server 2003 R2. The SDK previous to the Windows SDK. I think you can build for downlevel OS versions with the Vista Windows SDK - get this for paranoia's sake (but I think you can only install one...)
  • WTL. If you're doing traditional C++ Windows programming, you really want this. Rather a steep learning curve (it extends ATL) but it's very good.
  • A program with the same name as it's website. Good marketing. Running tests from within Visual Studio is the future.
  • Resharper. I'm still undecided on this one. It eats resources, slows down VS and remaps all of the keystrokes I've got trained into me from years of use. Seems incredibly powerful, but I only ever seem to scratch the surface with it. The latest 2.5 release supposedly gives performance increases.
  • Reflector. The single best app for programming .net ever.
  • Sysinternal's Process Monitor (saves me some typing. I was going to have to link to RegMon, FileMon and Process Explorer)
  • Virtual PC 2007 beta. It's got hardware virtualisation support. Need I say more?
  • Virtual CloneDrive. I'm disappointed that Microsoft's super-simple virtual CD control panel app no longer works on Vista. The best alternative I could find is this. It only maps a single drive and runs all the time, but it does the job.

Shell Extensions

I'm a massive shell extension fan (shell extensions extend Windows Explorer) so it's kind of surprising that I don't have many installed.

  • .net assembly shell extensions. Adds a nice little ".net" overlay to any .dll files that just happen to be .net assemblies. It also adds custom columns that appear in Explorer, but this bit doesn't work in Vista. It's worth it for the overlays.
  • IsoRecorder. Once you've got an ISO image, this makes it dead easy to burn straight to CD. Not sure if it supports Vista RTM at the moment (RTM ATM?)
  • CopyUrl. I really like this one, but haven't yet got it working in Vista. Adds a couple of new items to Internet Shortcut's context menu - copy URL, copy name (of item) and copy link (html formatted link of url and name). Dead useful, but not working for me right now.
  • Silurian Inspect Exe. Rather useful set of property sheet extensions for .exe files (and .dll, etc). Shows imported dlls and functions, exported functions, resources and so on.

Day-to-day Tools

  • Windows Live Writer. Annoyingly, you have to have IE's language set to en-us to be able to download Live Writer or plugins.
  • Blog This for Live Writer in IE. A very nice IE toolbar icon for blogging about web pages.
  • Syntax Highlighter for Live Writer.
  • iTunes. Purely for my iPod. All my music is ripped into Windows Meida Player 11 as part of my Media Centre PC Plan. Bit of a pain, though.
  • FoxIt Reader. A better alternative to Adobe Acrobat Reader, although I haven't tried the new version 8. It's fast and small, but it apes Adobes interface just a little too much for my liking. I'd like to see a PDF viewer that's just like Microsoft's XPS viewer - a simple, unobtrusive IE plugin.
  • Office 2007. And disappointingly, haven't had to do anything with it yet, so don't know if this ribbon thing is any good or not.
  • Windows Desktop Search. Of course. (But not on Vista.)

Stuff Still To Sort Out

This is stuff I need to install or configure, but haven't got round to it yet.

  • IIS7. Not your father's IIS. Need to spend some time on this one, I think.
  • Subsystem for Unix based applications. This is several blog posts in itself. This is Unix running on Windows, with all the tools you know and love (including the absurdly user-friendly awk). And the best thing? It's not Cygwin. (Ask me about Cygwin's thread local storage sometime, won't you?)
  • Xming. If you need to run X Windows System programs (such as SUA programs above), Xming is a great way of displaying them.
  • PowerShell. Just as soon as there's a Vista installer...
  • SDP. When you want to save a media stream, this free program seems to do the trick. Not sure if it only supports the mms: protocol (Microsoft), or whether it can handle Real and others too.


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