My Dev Kit

  • Sep 01, 2008 at 12:07 AM
  • Shawn Wildermuth


KayPro II

After reading John Lam's blog post "My Dev Kit" where he explains what he uses on a day-to-day basis to do IronRuby, I decided I wanted to do the here's my take.


I am not a typical developer as I almost never at a desk so my laptop is crucial to my work life. My laptop right now is a HP dv7t machine. Its a larger machine with a 17" screen and full-size keyboard (e.g. has a NumPad).  Its an Intel Duo 2 Core 2.8GHz, 2x320 GB hard drives, 4GB memory (max 8GB but who can afford that right now) and a respectible 512MB NVidia Video card.  All this in a tight 7 1/2 lb package (including the tiny power supply).  After lugging around desktop replacements (I'm looking at you XPS M1730), this laptop seems tiny.

Since I am usually working in a hotel room, a training center or my favorite coffeeshop, a great travel mouse is key. My choice is the Logitech VX mouse. I love this mouse because it holds the USB dongle inside the mouse and its large enough for my Shrek-sized hands.

The last piece of hardware that is crucial to my Dev Kit are my Audio Technica ATH-ANC7 active noice cancelling headphones.  They are over the ear variety and I think they sound better than the over-hyped Bose equivalent headphones.

Operating System and Productivity Tools

I run Windows 2008, 32 bit on my laptop mostly because I wanted a 32 bit OS that supported all of my 4 GB of memory.  All my Vista drivers work here and the only two things I am giving up by using Windows 2008 is Sidebar (I never used it) and the Mobility Center (which I like but isn't a big deal). I leave UAC on but use TweakUAC to turn on 'quiet mode'.

I use Internet Explorer 7 for my main web browser as I find its stability and startup time better than FireFox, but I use FireFox 3 for some of my sites.  I like FireFox for debugging JavaScript and for validating that all my CSS.

I live in Outlook 2007 as my e-mail client. While I use gmail as my host for most of my e-mail domains, I almost never use the web client (except on my phone) as I prefer to have a locally searchable version of my e-mail on my machine.

Since I write and teach, Word and PowerPoint are critical to my work most days and are open almost as much as my development tools.

When writing, I use SnagIt to take screenshots (and to annotate them when necessary). I also make sure that PureText is installed to do one-key 'paste-as-text'. Lastly, Paint.NET is a must to do any simple image editing.

To make launching stuff easy, I use Launchy as a simple app launcher. I also add the "Address Toolbar" to my Startbar so I can type explorer or web addresses without launching anything. I use WinAmp, MediaMonkey and Zune to manage my music.  One of the benefits of 640 GB of hard drive space is I get to keep all my music on my laptop for quick access. I also use SyncBack SE for my backup to my backup server.  I have Live Mesh installed, but I mostly use it for remote access to machines. Lastly, while I have Acrobat Reader for PDF's, I almost always use FoxIt's PDF Reader as its so much faster. 

Developer Tools

Not surprisingly, I use Visual Studio 2008 Team System SP1 as my main IDE.  I make sure that i have GhostDoc (to help with documentation) and RockScroll (as an excellent scrollbar replacement) installed as add-ins.

For a general purpose text editor I use NotePad++ as its really configurable and I love the "Open in Notepad++" context menu support.  I actually rename it to "Q.exe" so I can launch an editor using my muscle memory of my earliest editor (back in DOS when I did Clipper years ago).

For Silverlight, I make sure that I have the latest version of the Silverlight tools and the Expression tools. While Blend and Visual Studio are my main Silverlight tools, I tend to use Expression Design occasionally to convert any Illustrator files to XAML.

In my bag of general software tools I use:

I typically use TFS and Subversion (depending on the codebase) for source control. I also use NUnit and NAnt for our internal projects.

Another big component of my Dev Kit is Virtual PC as I keep a number of machines on my laptop for different beta's I am current involved in. I used to keep it all on my main machine but it makes it too difficult to keep up with what code doesn't work with what other code. I also use a special Virtual PC that has IE 2, 3, 4, 5, 5.5, 6 and 8 Beta installed side-by-side to do regression testing on my sites.  (Though I only test against 5 and above any more).

The Cloud

I care barely work these days without an Internet connection so I live with a number of web services:

For blogging, I use custom code that is written into my website to do online editing of my blog entries. This allows me to write and edit my blog wherever I am.

Your Turn

If you have a blog, take up the challenge and tell us what you use.





mikedopp Monday, September 1, 2008

Thanks for this article. I found the TweakUAC to be very beneficial. As well as the SQL server monitor rocks. Keep up the good work. I will be adding them to my mikes links monday post.
-mikedopp (


algonzalez Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What display resolution did you choose on the dv7t and did you get the Infinity display? I'm having trouble picturing what they mean for the Infinity display.


Shawn Wildermuth Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I got the 1650x1050. The only deal with the infitity display is that there is a piece of glass over the entire top panel so its a nice smooth surface (no bevel). Its purely decorative but it makes it really good looking IMHO.


John Lam Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cool. Thanks for the pointer to Launchy. Closest thing to QuickSilver that I've seen so far on Windows.

RE: Logitech VX mouse - does that hyper scroll thing actually work in VS? I've Googled for it in the past but haven't found any positive reviews wrt scrolling in VS.

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