Posted by: Diabolic Preacher | April 6, 2008

development tools. things i learn at the workplace.

You ain’t got the edge if you aren’t using the bleeding edge tech

Agree or Disagree?
Well, I for one prefer keeping my most needed tools to the latest stable versions except for some well known products that I do try to experiment with the latest betas and sometimes pre-alpha’s too 🙂

So down below, this is what I use generally on a daily basis for my work :-

  • Mozilla Firefox 3 beta 5/Mozilla Firefox – The main reason to use ver. 3 is because of its memory usage optimizations and faster javascript interpreting. other than that its got some UI changes that I like and has better standards compliance. although not perfect. I won’t yet suggest it to everyone, unless you’re ok with random browser crashes. In my case, having firebug extension and that too a beta version being made for ver. 3 of firefox is the main suspect. Some say, yahoo mail has a problem too, which they won’t fix until firefox 3 final comes out…any confirmations or rejections? Use firefox if you need some extensions that still don’t have ver 3 compatible versions. Firefox 3 is fast.
  • Firefox Extensions : –
    • I use Firebug which in the current beta version 1.1 isn’t able to track or watch variable values in js, so I need to switch back to firefox 2 to do some js debug. Firebug is as awesome as it is bloated. Ideally disable for all websites except usually localhost or some remote host on which you are testing your web app.
    • The other main extension for work that I use is Web Developer, compatible with both ver. 2 and ver 3. of firefox and stable in either cases. A new toolbar is added to let you enable/disable or display various information about the current webpage that you are viewing. I use it majorly to check form fields and their values. you could do a lot more stuff like check info about CSS used. mark out the tables (if <table> aided layout is used) and lots more.
    • Optionally I suggest you to check out snap links which isn’t yet compatible with firefox 3 but it lets you open a bunch of links inside a rectangle…like when you want to check out top3 results on a google page for a query…and developers have always had queries. 🙂

    Keep your extension count low when using firefox for development.

  • Notepad++ : – The sole reason I was using it from my portable apps was because I was not able to find and transfer all plugins to my hard disk installed version, which was because on the same portable app, the plugins are spread across 3 different folders and works something like this. there is a default set but if there are plugin files with same name in another folder (probably the user’s plugins folder) they override the default ones. Notepad++ is awesome code editor for my HTML/JS/PHP needs (haven’t messed with CSS much, yet), but it just becomes much more cooler when you add in some cool plugins. Some of them that I use and suggest are : –
    • FunctionList : – This is the quickest way to lookup available functions (of js and php in my case) within the current script. It makes traversing between function call and function definition relatively easy. You could also open the same file in 2 tabs side by side and watch 2 areas of the file…say one where you defined a function and where you are calling the function. Useful for checking if your params are of correct type, etc.
    • TIDY:-This comes handy when writing out HTML pages and you just want all the code indentation to be done automatically. Makes code indent deep into right side if there are tables nested almost infinitely and isn’t so suitable when you mix up HTML, PHP, etc. Other than that, besides indentation, it does have a lot of other options that can be configured to produce more readable and standardized code. The default TIDY plugin didn’t come with as many options as I’d got from the plugin that I copied over from my junior.
    • TextFX: This one needs an entry for itself (that i’m not too keen to write now :p ). It has a whole menu to itself with a huge range of quick conversions that you can do with your source code text. So far I have had to use the convert ” to ‘ option quite often when putting in HTML code within php echo statements. Hey I just found out TIDY is a part of TextFX plugin menu. oops. 🙂 Go ahead and check out the whole range of things you could do with TextFX.
    • Other plugin that I haven’t used much but feel are useful are the FTP client plugin, Compare files plugin (I use WinMerge for this purpose), QuickText (something like AutoComplete but far more customizable and useful from a developer’s perspective), NppExec (lets you configure external binaries to run your code…kinda like making notepad++ an IDE and a relatively less required plugin to export your source code to formatted text like RTF/HTML along with all the syntax coloring.

    Don Ho’s creation, Notepad++ is a vast improvement upon ScITE but i miss the “Open Selected filename” option. 😛

  • phpMyadmin : – Although this is a web app that runs inside the browser…it is an indispensable tool for creating, managing and backing up databases created in MySQL. Damn easy GUI. nuff said. Anyone knows about how to set up PMA with support for PDF generation of linked tables in a db, I’d be glad to know.
  • POG : – The main web based app that generates make-life-easy PHP objects to CRUD data from database (MySQL primarily). It is extremely helpful when dealing with entity relationships. Lots of functions to help make db-driven website development much easy.
  • Toucan : – This is used mostly at the end of the day to backup my work to my usb drive and somedays vice versa. Toucan is portable only app, which lets you sync 2 folders besides many other things like encrypting your files or backing them up in an archive with support for incremental update. Although there are 4 different modes of sync, I use update when backing up to pen drive. It copies and overwrites only those files that i have worked on for that day, which would be far lesser than all the files in my work folder. less the writes…less the wear n tear. Additionally the Mirror(Update) option removes files from destination that are not in the source dir. All documentation is provided with the app.
  • 7-zip : – only thing i use it is to copy the updated class files from generated POG object zip files.
  • what software do you think I use to FTP up my work to the server? 😀

On a 256mb RAM machine, these are like way too many apps to be used all at the same time, but before I end, let me share another observation about memory management of the computer. You must be remembering the swap=2.5times RAM rule, which we don’t bother with nowadays as RAM itself is as huge as 2gb and wasting 4.5 gb for swap makes no sense…dunno about vista. however I found that I have been stuck with a really sluggish comp., until I noticed the paging file size and checked in System Performance to see that Paging file size was set too low. Increasing that to 512mb made the computer feel more snappier than its prior self. I also notice now that I use FFX3b5 at home, It takes 50% of what amount of RAM the office comp. consumes….wonder if the ConservativeSwapFileUsage flag is turned on in registry…will have some way to find out i suppose. Well, that’s it. done. over. back to work 😀 search for the links. i’ll update them later.

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