Architect, Technologist, and gamer.

Director Engineering , Red Ventures

Essential Windows dev tools for the new year

First things first, it all starts with the package manager. It's the best, and I feel the only, way to maintain software on any machine you deal with. Package managers are everywhere in the realm of code, but for managing Windows apps, not so much. Thankfully Chocolatey, the oss package manager for Windows, brings some sanity to this madness. It's the first thing I install on any machine and it's the first place I check prior to installing anything else. Package managers and tech like it may yet save us from the never ending stream of proprietary app stores.

Text Editor / IDE


The absolute essential app for any .NET developer. I use this for nearly every programming task outside of an actual VS project. Samples, query optimization, PoC's. They even have my most highly requested feature, Debugging, now available for testing in the latest beta.

$free || $45/pro || $75/premium

> choco install linqpad4


GitHub's take on the modern text editor. I use it all the time for Node and just general text editing. It's also easy to customize via the internal package manager.


> choco install atom

Markdown Pad

A must have if your working with MD on a regular basis. While most other text editors can deal with MD, nothing comes close to the features and parsers available in Markdown Pad. I use it for this blog as well as general documentation.

$free || $15/pro

> choco install markdownpad2


Still my go to all purpose text editor. Great for installing on Windows servers or just any machine where you need a good default text editor. It's not trying to be an IDE and it will open anything.

$free || $donate

> choco install notepadplusplus.install


  • Sublime Text. Great text editor, but Atom has replaced this for me.
  • UltraEdit. The best and only way to deal with obscenely large text files. Its also pricey, but a good overall editor if you have the need for it.


Firefox Developer Edition

The browser I've always wanted. It's just like the title implies, it's the latest version of Firefox but tricked out for developers. 5 mins with the developer toolbar's GCLI you'll feel the same.

$free || $donate


Perfect local development and testing testing of responsive and mobile views. Has built in emulation templates for nearly every scenario, so its great for presentations as well. Even has VS integration.

$trial || $50


The best way to inspect all HTTP traffic on your machine. Invaluable for inspecting web requests and testing over SSL. I used it for debugging, manipulating requests, and for record/playback of entire sessions.


> choco install fiddler4


  • Chrome x64 Beta. Still my default browser, but no longer essential for development. The Firefox tools have won me over.

Data / Files


The ultimate database manager that will connect to anything. I use it daily for connecting to SQL Azure, SQL server, MySQL, and SQLITE db's. It has some great features like table and cell editing, that get me in out of the data quickly.

$free || $29/commercial

> choco install databasenet


The only full featured way to Git on windows outside of the cli. Especially excels at taking the more advanced concepts of git like rebasing, stashing, amends, etc and making them very straight forward and easy to use. It has never been so easy to do an interactive rebase.


> choco install sourcetree

BitTorrent Sync

Forget the middleman entirely and move your files around faster and more security via bt sync. This blows away any cloud storage in terms of speed and security, so it's my top recommended syncing app for both personal and business use. There is a client for every single platform, including most personal and smb NAS devices. Having an always on NAS client is a great way to always have one peer seeding. It's still in beta, but I expect to see more business related features with their forthcoming 2.0 release.


> choco install btsync


  • GitHub for Windows. An excellent git client that is streamlined for use with GitHub, but works well with other local repos. Interface is basic (by design), but it uses Powershell with posh git as the default shell which makes for a good cli experience. Use it all the time, just not essential.


Azure Management Studio

I use this every day for querying table storage, working with blobs, and service bus queues. It can do much more than that, so it has just become my essential all around Azure management tool for the desktop. It's pricey, but if your using Azure regularly, it's well worth it.

$trial || $195

Azure Cross Platform CLI

The essential azure managment library that can run anwhere Node does. It's perfect for managing websites, vm's, really anthing you want to do outside of or can't do via the management portal. I don't even bother with the powershell commandlets anymore.


npm install -g azure-cli



While this is not technically a tool, it's an absolute essential runtime for every dev on Windows. So many cross platform tools and framworks are written in Node and distributed via npm that you will get plenty of use, even if your not primarily a Node dev. I use grunt task libary in many of my .NET projects and also write several WebJobs in Node that work with Azure storage and queues.


> choco install nodejs.install


Lets face it, cmd sucks. Cmder is my favorite console emulator which more or less puts a pretty face onto ConEmu. Great for opening mutiple cmd and powershell prompts at once, and most importantly, supports ctrl-v.


> choco install cmder


Still an essential for me after many years. Sometimes you just need to hack some image assets together and there is still no better free tool for windows. I'm sure this great tool will remain pinned to my taskbar for a while.

$free || $donate

> choco install

Migrate an existing repository from Subversion to Git on Windows with history intact

Migrate an existing repository from Subversion to Git on Windows with history intact

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