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11 April, 2011

Tools that I use

Update: I've dropped the "2011" from the title, as I've kept this list more or less up-to-date every time I change a computer.

Other than Visual Studio, Photoshop, Office/Outlook, 3dsMax (/Maya/Modo/...) and Perforce, these are the tools that I always have installed on my development computer.

In strikethrough are tools that I used to install / might still be useful, but don't really rely upon anymore (these might go away as I update the list)

I don't use OSX for development at all, but I use it almost exclusively at home for photography and general computer stuff... So I included a few OSX tools too, even if you won't find as much programming stuff.

A good way of installing software in bulk is to use Ninite. On OSX: ZeroInstall or GetMacApps are alternatives. 

The opposite, uninstall, is also best served by some bulk/batch tools: Absolute Uninstaller and for Windows 8+ App Uninstaller.

File tools
  • Visual Studio plugins/extensions
    • MUST-HAVE For VS2010+, the Enhanced Scrollbar from the Productivity Power Tools is a must. If you're still on 2008 then MetalScroll.
    • MUST-HAVE Extensions (from the VS extension store): Debug Command Line (adds a drop-down that allows to quickly switch between recently used command-lines), Debug Single Thread, Concurrency Visualizer
    • Other minor ones:
    • I used to rely on Visual Assist X (and disabling Intellisense), but nowadays I just use find in files (SSDs!) most of the times...
  • Text editors
    • MUST-HAVE NotePad++ for almost everything (with this HLSL syntax add-on by Pettineo).
    • Markdown editors
      • I still write a lot of plain .txt files, and using markdown gets you some formatting for free. Typora Texts is my choice (OSX too), MarkDeep is nice, Marp can be cute as well (for presentations, there are many other similar ones). AsciiDoc.
    • LaTeX for publications - I use TexStudio and BasicTeX (a smaller version of MacTeX) on OSX (then manually add packages I need via the command line package manager).
    • Sometimes you need a hex editor (e.g. to open huge files)
  • IDEs.
    • ...Of course, Visual Studio, but you might need stuff for other languages.
    • MUST-HAVE Visual Studio Code is great nowadays (also on OSX)
    • OSX has no Visual Studio for C++. XCode is the native IDE but I often prefer others:
    • Lua
      • Decoda is a great (now opensource!) IDE if you need one for Lua (which you probably shouldn't).
      • ZeroBrane Studio is good too and integrates a number of game engines (mostly 2d and indie-ish, like Love, Moai, Corona) with a limited "livecoding" support (change of constant parameters)
    • Python
    • C#
      • Sometimes I installed SharpDevelop especially if the VS version the company bought using does not support the latest C#
      • ILSpy is great, as it is NDepend but I use them rarely as I'm not dealing usually with large C# projects. DotPeek sometimes is handy.
    • For most other things (and for OSX...), JetBrains has an IDE.
      • ActiveState maintains free Komodo Edit (a version of the Komodo IDE without debugging and some other things) which is also good for JS, Python, Ruby and such.
      • Sometimes I use Eclipse together with the Processing library to livecode processing sketches (Eclipse supports java hotswapping)
  • Everybody in videogames is on P4, but the outside world likes GIT too. 
  • Other development tools:
Graphics and Rendering
  • MUST-HAVE IrfanView is my image viewer. Picturenaut, HDRShop and PTGui for HDR images.
    • OSX Alternatives: Xee
  • VisiPics is the best near-duplicate image finder I've found so far.
  • I use FXComposer 2.5 (sometimes even 1.8) still, I prefer these to ShaderToy as that still tends to crash on complex shaders, and it's slower/less convenient. Fragmentarium and SynthClipse are decent too. OpenCL studio is also cute  (and similarly unsupported)
  • I used to get all Nvidia toolkits: CUDA, DirectX11 Graphics, OptiX, GPU computing toolkit. Not anymore.
  • MUST-HAVE RenderDoc is great, a must! ApiTrace is promising, Intel's GPA is ok too. Pix went down the drain once MS decided to integrate it in VS (what a dumb, dumb, dumb, thing to do)
  • MUST-HAVE VideoLan (OSX too)
    • Also for screen captures! I just use the desktop capture device and encode a mp4. On OSX, the built-in Quicktime allows do to screen recording.
    • Giffing and ScreenToGif are great for desktop capture too (using webM encoding), all other video capture programs I've found either are insane crapware or depend on proprietary codecs that you have to distribute.
      • Actually today Giphy capture works wonders as well (and it's on OSX too)
  • Prototyping
    • MUST-HAVE Processing (also on OSX). LibCinder, OpenFrameworks, Pocode and Polycode are decent if you want a Processing alternative for C++.
    • MUST-HAVE C-Toy (also on OSX). Quite nifty! Tiny-C-Compiler integrated with some graphic drawing functions and wrapped with a file-monitor so your project live updates. Very useful to quickly test C algorithms!
    • SharpDX
    • Unity3D is great for prototypes!
    • KodeLife for shader experiments. (also on OSX)
  • Other stuff
  • I guess anyone working on Win8 is using ClassicShell.
  • I pin down the Win7 Snipping Tool (and configure it not to prompt when closed), or go with Greenshot which is even better. Very useful to copy'n'paste pieces of the screen into emails. PicPick is a great tool if you need to do many screenshots of the same area (bind "repeat last capture" to a key)
  • ClipX is cute
  • AutoIt is NIFTY! I use it to craft quick GUIs around command-line tools or to automate GUI tools... It's really nice when you have to do a given thing over and over, and its basic-inspired language makes me nostalgic too. Also, is "portable", which I always prefer. AutoHotKey uses AutoIt scripting, but I didn't use it yet.
  • MUST-HAVE OSX I use Alfred or Quicksilver
  • MUST-HAVE Acrobat Reader (even if I should probably prefer the less bloated SumatraPDF, that does not annoy the user with endless updates)
  • ProcrastiTracker... Also for "productivity" I like sometimes to use the "pomodoro technique", I have a kitchen timer on my work desk that seems to work best (I like it being physical and ringing), but ChronoSlider on OSX doesn't seem to suck as well (you'd be surprised how bloated or bad most timer apps are...)
  • System tools
  • SharpKeys if I need to remap some of my keyboard keys. 
    • Some keyboards emit "weird" scancodes (e.g. my wired Apple Italian keyboard) the only program which I've found to be flexible enough to recognize them is KeyTweak.
    • Speaking of using Apple hardware, if you have a laptop and you like your natural scrolling direction on the touchpad, WizMouse can enable that. 
      • By the way, Win 8.1/bootcamp on my MBPr2013 does dragging horribly, but it seems better if you enable the (unrelated!) "tap to click" and "dragging" options in bootcamp. Trackpad++ is also related but I haven't tried it yet.
      • MUST-HAVE On OSX when using the external mouse you might want to not use natural scrolling, while keeping it enabled for the trackpad. Scroll Reverser does that!
  • Other OSX MUST-HAVE is gSwitch to force integrated GPU only (or discrete only). 
    • Background Music allows to change audio volume per app. 
  • MUST-HAVE Synergy for keyboard/mouse sharing across computers. There's also a fork called Barrier, which I haven't tried yet.
  • VirtualBox can be useful and it's free, even if I usually prefer VmWare (sometimes I use the Player with pre-made OS images). 
    • HyperV, included with Windows, can be great too, it's not a bad idea to keep your different work environments in different VMs / drives nowadays, as drive space is not a big deal. On OSX, Parallels is really good.
    • I use Docker for all the times some python library are available on Linux only (e.g. happens for deep neural network stuff...).
  • Command-line / Terminal
    • I love Cathode on OSX. Also on OSX: CoolRetroTerm, which is opensource, but it's not quite as great.
    • MUST-HAVE For OSX, I use Homebrew and Cakebrew.
    • I'm not really a command-line ninja, but I've started adopting it a bit more. I usually install tmux, nnn, tldr, a recent version of nano.
  • Window management various
    • 1Up industries stuff is really good: Fences, Bins (7Stacks is somewhat similar, and free, emulates OSX stacks).
    • SysTools Desktops is a tiny free utility for virtual desktops
    • My own bugfixed version of AnAppADay Jedi Concentrate (a Windows clone of the OSX Think Isolator, Spirited Away is a nice complement to these too, there are clones as well). WindowFX 4 does the same too (and much more)
    • On OSX some people/setups seem to need SmoothMouse to avoid mouse lag
    • There are a lot of other tools that look nifty but I didn't end up using them often... Displayfusion looks neat but I didn't try it yet, the most interesting feature for me is placing a second taskbar with only the applications used on the second monitor there, MultiMon does it for free. A tiling window manager is good if you have a lot of screen space, like WinSplit (OSX alternative: SizeUP)
  • OSX: not a tool, but important, kill the lag in the dock autohide: defaults write autohide-delay -float 0
  • MUST-HAVE Chrome (w/a session manager to not swear if things crash, a tab auto-suspender, and I also disable flash/other plugins auto-start and use the morphine extension at work)
  • MUST-HAVE DropBox
  • 1Password is nifty even if most often I use... paper
  • Google Calendar Sync, if the company doesn't have decent intranet VPN access
  • MUST-HAVE Skype
  • Somtimes I install BitDefender (but NEVER use the autoscan option)
  • For home at least I use a free TeamViewer account ( is nifty), which I find many times easier/better than setting up UltraVNC. Splashtop looks promising.
  • I still use the PowerToy Calculator (patched to install on Win7/Vista)
  • MUST-HAVE Mathematica (OSX too) if the studio has a license for it (or I make them buy one!)
    • Mathics is an upcoming free Mathematica compatible system
    • Python Anaconda distribution that I already mentioned
  • GeoGabra can be useful when tinkering with geometrical constructions, it's quite powerful (currently the beta of v5 supports 3d too, and it's available "portable" as well) but slightly more focused on contraints than I'd like (I'd love something very interactive with optional constrained stuff, like a parametric CAD)
    • Some people swear by TikZ (examples), looks extremely cool but it's not interactive...
    • On the simpler side, and 2d only, DrGeo (portable as well) is great to tinker
  • SciLab which I prefer over Octave (that is though more compatible w/MatLab), but nowadays I don't really care about MatLab-like environments, I prefer either Mathematica or SciPy (Anaconda)


numb3r23 said...

Thanks for the links - esp. to processing. I should have found that years ago:D

nova77 said...

Wow, this is really close to the settings that I had a while ago (before migrating to osx for work), with the exception of visual assist which I found to be a real life saver once properly configured.

Anonymous said...

use linux and shit like unlocker you will not need.

DEADC0DE said...

Anon: Agreed, in Linux I won't need unlocker.

I would just need a replacement for visual studio, photoshop, 3dsmax, directX, the console SDKs and everything needed to make videogames...

So basically I would have no job, but yes, I would need no unlocker.

Thanks for the tip!

Allan MacKinnon said...

Don't forget Rapid Environment Editor for inspecting those pesky env vars: