Developer’s Toolkit

As robust and feature rich as most IDEs are nowadays, it is still difficult to have an “all in one” package for developing your applications. The database tool might be missing that handy view or export for the data. The graphics editor doesn’t handle layering. You just need a place to store that code snippet you found in that forum thread until you’re ready to paste it into your method.

It adds to the complication when you jump between operating systems like I do. I’m primarily a .Net developer, who uses a MacBookPro on a daily basis so that I can be in sync with all of my fellow developers when we’re working on our PHP projects. I tend to shy away from the “sharing” of files between the systems because I’ve run into synchronization issues in the past. I treat them like separate machines (using VMWare Fusion) and run in “unity mode” when I need a singular desktop type experience.

With that said, here are the tools I use on a daily basis, for both OSX and Windows 8.1:

System Building

OSX: KitchenPlan
Win: BoxStarter

The days of losing a full day of work when your system goes down and needs a reformat are over. With the speed of the internet, the speed of our machines, the storage of the cloud, and the power of automated builds/installs provided by KitchenPlan/BoxStarter, you can have a fresh box in mere hours now.

File Management

OSX: None (Finder)
Win: None (Explorer)

I used to use specialized file management tools, but nowadays everything has searching, zipping, and quick navigation built into it. It’s quite nice to “go native” with it.

Quick Notes

OSX: Simple Antnotes
Win: None

Since I can share a copy/paste between environments, Simple Antnotes gives me a hotkey to fire up a quick note that I can pin, or keep for that URL, or object Id that I need to use for debugging. When I’m done, I clear it out and move on.

Detailed Notes

OSX: Microsoft OneNote
Win: Microsoft OneNote

For more detailed notes, such as coding snippets, registration details, personal maintenance logs, and everything else, I really like the way OneNote is organized. It is even more powerful if you pair it with a tablet to do inline image annotations. Since I can run OneNote on my Android tablet as well, I have all of my recipes handy as well.

Database Management

OSX: Sequel Pro
Win: Toad

Toad is still my go to app for database management. It has wonderful auto-complete, powerful export options, and a lot of “common sense” interface that makes it easy to query and manipulate data, both at a small scale and large scale. The freeware version strips out some of the powerful export tools, but most of the time you won’t miss it.

While there is a OSX version out there, it really doesn’t have as much power or ease of use compared to the Windows counterpart. That’s why I use Sequel Pro. It’s all the stuff I love about Toad, but native for OSX, and there aren’t any special Java libraries you have to load like many other OSX database management tools out there.

Text Editing

OSX: Sublime Text
Win: Sublime Text

Sublime Text has won me over for it’s powerful select/replace of text and the variety of plugins is has to help with things like prettifying JSON code. You can also load a folder from the command prompt into sublime text and have a mini IDE all it’s own for simple HTML site or quick project updates. You get the same interface in both environments, so having that familiarity is always helpful.

Image Manipulation

OSX: Gimp (sort of)
Win: Paint.Net

Paint.Net is such a beautiful app. It’s no photoshop, nor do I think it ever wants to be one. But for me, all I need to do is to resize an image, or maybe strip out the background to make it transparent, or potentially build a simple button using a couple of layers. It has all of the core tools you need, plus some nice layer filtering to help create special effects. It’s free too!

I really haven’t found an equivalent for OSX. Gimp is nice, but I think there is a bit of a learning curve to it so I use it only when absolutely necessary for simple tasks. Maybe one day I’ll find something better.

HTML / Javascript Analysis

OSX: Firefox Developer Edition
Win: Firefox Developer Edition

Firefox Developer edition has really impressed me with the speed in which is loads page and the assortment of tools made available. I think all of the “big” browsers have a similar set of tools for inspecting / debugging web pages these days, but the ease of access to features, the dark theme, and continued updates make this app the one I go to when working heavy on web pages.


OSX: Desk
Win: None

Blogging has become more important to me, as a means of “sharing the love” as well as getting some thoughts out of my brain for introspection. Desk is such an amazing app that takes all the clutter out of the way and allows me to just right. It is feature rich enough to support my code snippets and optional embedding, but doesn’t overdo it. It is well worth the investment.

So what about you? What tools are in your arsenal? I’m always looking for new ones!

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