What Tools Do I Use? June 2020 Edition

Having not done one of these since 2013, I thought it was time for an update! The following tools fit into two categories. I either use it daily or it’s invaluable in specific situations (for example, taking screenshots or giving presentations).

The Data I Need When I Need It

I use a combination of four pieces of software to ensure that I always have all of the information I need at my fingertips. They are: OneDrive, OneNote, Bitwarden, and Raindrop.io.

Onedrive is the Microsoft DropBox competitor. I use it for a 2 reasons. The main reason that I use it is storage per dollar for my family (1 TB per user for up to 5 users for less than $100 a year).

OneNote is Microsoft’s note taking software. Evernote is a popular competitor and one that I have tried before. When OneNote was released for mobile, I immediately switched back. I do miss tags sometime but

Bitwarden is a password manager tool. We have passwords for everything now and they should all be unique and varied. How does it work? You create one password for your encrypted account and you place all of your other passwords into the software. There are multiple tools like LastPass, KeyPass, etc. but Bitwarden is open source and it allows me to easily share specified password securely with my wife.

Last but definitely not least is Raindrop.io. It’s a bookmark manager with full tagging support including drill down tag searching. As a developer, I tend to collect a lot of links to research, articles, etc. and this is an invaluable tool to keep it all organized. It also doubles as my recipe book!

Collaboration

I currently work on a distributed team so having effective tools in place for collaboration and communication is a must.

For task and backlog tracking, I use Azure DevOps at work and GitHub for other development projects.

For voice, I use a combination of Microsoft Teams (work) and Discord (personal). They both have screen sharing features that come in handy if it’s just a quick discussion. For more complex screen sharing, we use TeamViewer. TeamViewer allows users to pass control around. This comes in extremely handy when working through code with another developer.

Let’s Develop Something Already!

As a Microsoft developer with a heavy focus on web technologies, I currently have Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code installed. I run Visual Studio 2019 pretty lean now and install relatively few plugins compared to my 2013 edition. For Visual Studio Code, I install at least the following:

  • Azure Repos
  • C#
  • EditorConfig for VS Code
  • Live Share
  • PowerShell
  • SQL Server (mssql)
  • vscode-icons

Everyone has their own favorite text editor and mine is Notepad++. It’s always the first thing that I install on a new machine and I immediately set it as my default text viewer.

A great tool for testing .NET code snippets, LINQ statements, etc. is LINQPad. This little application is extremely feature packed and you’ll find more ways to use it every time you open it.

Presentation Must Haves

If you’re giving presentations or sharing screens often, I have a couple of recommendations.

The first suggestion is Carnac. Presenters tend to forget that the viewers don’t know when you press Alt, Ctrl, etc. This is a little application displays those special combination keystrokes so that your audience doesn’t get lost when you’re flying around Visual Studio using only the keyboard.

The second is ZoomIt. This application allows you to Zoom in and out of any application running in Windows. It also has some markup features which are quite nice once you get used to the keyboard shortcuts.

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