I just had to rebuild my work machine, so I figured I’d
get a cheap blog post out of it discuss the tools that I use regularly. I’ve broken these down by category. As a quick note, this is on my main work machine, so there are some things which I use on other PCs but don’t here. Part of that is the nature of the job. This also isn’t everything on my machine, but does cover most of the day-to-day tools I use.
Got something you really like but I don’t have? Let me know in the comments.
Connecting To Databases
- SQL Server Management Studio 17. I don’t have any SQL Server 2019 instances yet, so no need to move to SSMS 18 just yet. Plugins I rely on include:
- devart SQL Complete. Their snippet management, intellisense improvements, and (most importantly) document formatting work great for me. This plugin also works with Visual Studio.
- Tabs Studio. I tend to have dozens of SSMS tabs open at once. Tabs Studio lets me use the vertical space on my monitor instead of having 4 visible tabs and a drop-down with a couple dozen others. This plugin also works with Visual Studio.
- SentryOne Plan Explorer. The best way to view execution plans.
- Azure Data Studio. I don’t use this quite as much as SSMS, but I’m moving in that direction. A couple of plugins and I’d be there. Key plugins:
- SQL Server 2019 support. This adds some nice functionality including notebooks in Azure Data Studio. That’s a feature differentiator between ADS and SSMS.
- SSMS keymap. I have too much muscle memory tied up in Ctrl-R and the like to give it up.
- High Color Queries. I like the color sets. Because I am a monster, I prefer the light theme.
- Aginity Redshift Workbench. I don’t use Redshift often, but when I do, this is my go-to app.
- pgAdmin 4. Same as Aginity: I don’t get into Postgres very often, but when I need to go there, this is how I do it.
- Power BI Desktop and Power BI Report Server. We use Power BI Report Server internally rather than deploying to Azure. I also use Power BI Desktop for my own personal dashboards that don’t make it to the outside world.
- Visual Studio 2017. Pretty much all of my .NET development happens in Visual Studio. Visual Studio 2017 also installs Anaconda and Jupyter if you install the Data Science tools, so I include them here rather than as separate line items. Key plugin:
- BimlExpress. If you’re doing SQL Server Integration Services development, you really need to know Biml. There’s a lot more you can do with Biml as well.
- Visual Studio Code. I haven’t gotten quite into VS Code but I’m starting to use it for Python code dev and other non-.NET languages.
- R Studio. It’s still the standard for R development.
Checking In Code
- TortoiseGit. This is a tool that I have mostly because a lot of other developers at the company have it, so sometimes it’s easier just to have it installed when working through issues.
- SourceTree. This is my primary Git client.
- OneNote. I really don’t like the new version and highly prefer the Office 2016 version. The only thing I like about the Windows app version is its superior touchscreen support, but on my non-touchscreen devices it’s a pain. It’s also not close to feature-complete. So it’s the Office 2016 version for me.
- Notepad++. I’m using it a bit less and VS Code a bit more, but it’s the first thing I look for when I right-click a text file.
- Liquid Studio. This is a tool that I used to have. I used it specifically for its large file support, being able to read multi-gigabyte text files without choking. Honestly, I just want good versions of head, tail, and the like on Windows. And I’m still not really sold on Cygwin though I might install it yet again.
- KDiff3. Yeah, the last update was 4 1/2 years ago, but it’s still my go-to diff and merge tool.
Dealing With Files
- MultiCommander. The dual-pane layout is great for my purposes, as it’s sort of like having two Windows Explorer windows open, except a lot more functional.
- S3 Browser. This is one of the better Amazon S3 file browsers that I’ve seen, particularly given the price.
- Azure Storage Explorer. Free and deals with Azure storage. That works for me.
- WinDirStat. Ever wonder where all of your disk space went? WinDirStat will tell you exactly where it is and give you a treemap to visualize whether that’s one giant file or a bunch of smaller ones.
- 7-Zip. The 7z format is rather efficient, though I tend not to share those files. I do use it for compressing files local to my machine, and I like its interface for extracting files. I’d like the .tar.gz process to be a one-step process instead of two, though.
- Sysinternals Utilities. I include this here because I didn’t want to create a “miscellany” section just for it. I use ZoomIt frequently, especially during code reviews. Presentations aren’t always in front of large groups.