12 MORE Insanely Essential Utilities For Programmers

In July I published a list of 12 Insanely Essential Utilities for Programmers. That list is still current and I’m still using every one of the twelve.  The list, however, has become popular enough, and there are enough great utilities that didn’t make that list, that I herewith present 12 more Insanely Great and Absolutely Essential Utilities:

NB: This list, like its predecessor is Windows-centric.

The Next Dozen

1. Drop Box – Have files on one machine and need a good way to get them to another? dropBox Need to provide a file to a co-worker that is too large to mail? Drop Box is fast, secure, easy and beautifully executed.  It runs on the web, on Windows and on the Mac. Oh, and it’s free.

2. LogMeIn Forgot a file at home? Need access to your machine as if you were at the keyboard?  Complete and secure remote access for Windows and Mac.  Incredibly helpful when you want it, indispensable when you need it.

3. Tortoise HG – In the first list Tortoise SVN was listed, but I’ve switched over to TortoiseHG Mercurial, and so Tortoise HG is the tool of choice. The key advantage to Mercurial is that you can commit repeatedly, locally, before updating/synchronizing with the server.  I have to add that I’ve been incredibly happy with BitBucket as a server.  Tortoise HG is free.

4. PowerGrep/ BareGrep – PowerGrep is the most powerful and easiest to use grep program I’ve seen, but it is pricey.  BareGrep is darn close in functionality and it is either free, or if you go up to the pro version, at least reasonably priced. Both are stunningly fast, but I find PowerGrep’s extra features, filters and UI all to be far superior.

5. RegEx Buddy – The folks who make PowerGrep also make RegEx Buddy.  Nothing I’ve seen comes close to this both as a regular expression builder and as a tool for learning regular expressions.  The UI is both powerful and easy to use.  Brilliant.

6. Notepad++ Not just incrementally better, far superior for programmers. Line numbers, syntax highlighting, does not get in the way and its free.   It is my go to text editor.

7. Xobni – Programming can be a team sport, with hints and tips and critical Xobni information exchanged in Outlook.  Xobni (zob-knee) finds it, whatever it is, instantly.  It does much more, but for me it is worth the price of entry for its incredible searching capabilities. Xobni is free, the Plus version is not.   By the way, Xobni is inbox spelled backwards.

8. VirtualBox – A great VM; lightweight, robust and free. Available as open source, runs on Windows, Linux, Macintosh and OpenSolaris hosts, and supports most of the guest operating systems you might ever want (though there is no “official” support for hosting OS/X.

9. AutoPoco –  Generates test data from Plain Old CLR Objects.  Written up by Scott Hanselman and insanely useful.   Highly customizable, and open source (CodePlex).

10. FARRFind And Run Robot is described as “a program for keyboard maniacs.” If you code like I do you spend a good bit of time flitting in and out of programs, and you are impatient to get them up and running fast.  It does a good bit more, but I use it for finding and running programs – hit control-space, type ev and hit enter to load Evernote.  Nice.

11. Hypersnap / ScreenPresso – Screen capture software has turned out to be essential for me; not only for blogging but also for taking a quick shot of a program running, or even of code for quick reference later.  HyperSnap wins on all features and functionality, except that ScreenPresso has a 1-touch export to Evernote that I love.

12. xMind – Mind Mapping Software. I started out using this for design work, ended up using it also for documentation (see, for example, this mind map of the iPhone to Windows Phone Tutorials),  for idea sharing and for dozens of other related purposes.  Mind maps have all the organization of an outline with the immediately graspable eidetic representation of an image.


About Jesse Liberty

Jesse Liberty is an independent consultant and programmer with three decades of experience writing and delivering software projects. He is the author of 2 dozen books and multiple Pluralsight courses, and has been a Senior Technical Evangelist for Microsoft, a Distinguished Software Engineer for AT&T, a VP for Information Services for Citibank and a Software Architect for PBS. He is a Xamarin Certified Mobile Developer and a Xamarin MVP, Microsoft MVP and Telerik MVP.
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51 Responses to 12 MORE Insanely Essential Utilities For Programmers

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