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 the first place I check before installing anything else. Package managers and tech like it may save us from the never-ending stream of proprietary app stores.
Text Editor / IDE
An absolutely essential app for any .NET developer. I use this for nearly every programming task outside 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
A must-have if you're working with Markdown regularly. 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 any machine where you need a good default text editor. It's not trying to be an IDE; 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. It's also pricey, but an excellent overall editor if required.
Firefox Developer Edition
The browser I've always wanted. 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 of responsive and mobile views. Has built-in emulation templates for nearly every scenario, so it's great for presentations as well. It 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 and 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 straightforward and easy to use. It has never been so easy to do an interactive rebase.
> choco install sourcetree
Forget the middleman and move your files around faster and more securely via bt sync. This blows away any cloud storage in speed and security, so it's my top recommended syncing app for personal and business use. Every platform has a client, including most personal and smb NAS devices. Having an always-on NAS client is a great way to 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. The interface is basic (by design), but it uses Powershell with posh git as the default shell, making for a good CLI experience. Use it all the time, just not essential.
Azure Management Studio
I use this daily to query table storage, work with blobs, and service bus queues. It can do much more than that, so it has become my essential all-around Azure management tool for the desktop. It's pricey, but if you're using Azure regularly, it's well worth it.
$trial || $195
Azure Cross Platform CLI
The essential azure management library that can run anywhere Node does. It's perfect for managing websites, VMs, and anything 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 essential runtime for every dev on Windows. So many cross-platform tools and frameworks are written in Node and distributed via npm that you will get plenty of use, even if you're not primarily a Node dev. I use the Grunt task library in many of my .NET projects and also write several WebJobs in Node that work with Azure storage and queues.
> choco install nodejs.install
Let's face it, cmd sucks. Cmder is my favorite console emulator, which more or less puts a pretty face onto ConEmu. Great for opening multiple cmd and PowerShell prompts at once, and most importantly, supports ctrl-v.
> choco install cmder
Still essential for me after many years. Sometimes you 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 paint.net