This list is a result of years of working in software & web development.
It is a distinct list that does not overload you with alternatives, it has a
focus on quality - the right tools for the job. Most of the software
listed doesn't cost anything, I have only included commercial software where
there is no alternative that does not cost money.
package you choose to download. In general, most of the software listed
below is free for personal or commercial use, though in some cases a paid
commercial license is required.
Standalone, desktop software:
special build of Chromium as a browser replacement for Chrome. We've
all heard of Chrome by now, the super-fast browser by Google based on its
open source Chromium. Whilst Chrome aims to be a reliable bare-bones
browser, it does not completely replace Internet Explorer on Windows.
You still need to revert to the trusty old IE to visit some sites,
especially for work. Since I've been using it, ChromePlus has stood up
as a true standalone browser with its built-in IE Tab functionality and
other lesser tweaks that make for a smooth browsing experience. Though
there is an IE Tab plugin for Chrome, I have found that it drops sessions
when trying to use the back button, as well as other issues that just don't
happen in ChromePlus's implementation. My favourite plugin for
ChromePlus at the moment is
iReader - makes articles on web pages awesomely readable.
Of course, ChromePlus can use
Chrome extensions. Extensions I use are:
Web Cache - when you hit a page that is no longer available, just
use buttons from the Web Cache plugin to automatically open the page
from a variety of internet archive sources
iReader - magically takes a cluttered web page and just gives you
clean, easy to read content
Session Manager - often, researching a topic involves lots of open
tabs, some with hard to find again content. Session manager is a
bookmark for all the currently open tabs - you can revisit your research
Speed Dial - replace the default new tab page with a nice manageable
list of favourite sites where you can control how many items are visible
Google Similar Pages - click this button to show pages that are
similar to the page you are currently viewing
EXIF Viewer - this adds a right-click context menu option to view
EXIF data on any image on the web. This is awesome for
- free, open source antivirus software that rivals commercial products.
Microsoft Security Essentials - free virus checking/protection
software. This is my pick of the free system protection bunch.
- Open Office - a
free open source complete office suite which is able to exchange documents in native and commercial formats.
This software is very good, but NOT fully compatible with Microsoft Office
products as claimed. You can create documents that are pretty good
with compatibility, but reading and modifying existing Microsoft Office
documents is a different story, so be careful.
7-Zip - free, open
source; zip and unzip common archive
types. An excellent program.
Outlook Duplicates Remover - a great program that removes all kinds of
duplicates from Outlook 2002/2003. This software comes at the price of a
prayer. It saved my day fixing duplicate calendar items from bad
synchronisation with my Pocket PC. Don't pay money for similar
- Google Reader - a free RSS feed program.
Google reader requires no installation, and in using your google account it
will persist your favourite RSS feeds wherever you go. Forget buying newspapers
and DON'T buy an RSS reader...
what life did I have before I found RSS?
(AKA BK ReplaceEm) - This is a search & replace program that rocks! I
use this all the time, you can do complex "starts with", "ends with"
searches that may span unlimited lines of text and the ability to span
subfolders. You can place rules in
a sequence so that you can create a really complex search/replace strategy
without having to be an expert! Hint, use Advanced Edit, you can do
common replace tasks without needing to know weird mnemonics.
InfoRapid Search & Replace - powerful search & replace software.
Not as powerful as
for doing replacements, but very powerful for outright searching.
Certain binary files can be searched and the contents shown in the area of
the search results. The good thing about this program is it doesn't
need to be able to index your drive to be able to search. I generally
use a combination of InfoRapid and ReplaceEm depending on my needs - they're
both very useful.
- Google Desktop
Search - yet another search utility... Well, I do in fact use a third
search utility so you're probably starting to think I'm some kind of search
nut. This utility is great, it indexes your hard drive in the
background, never taxing your resources while you're trying to work.
It indexes absolutely everything, including your email, so it's great for
finding that long lost document, or all the emails on a particular subject.
Beware the index file size, I ended up with 5 1/2GB of index files. It cannot index mapped drives, but it will map files that you open from a
mapped location, so that's a limitation where I use
PDFCreator - create PDF files from any program you can print from -
free, open source.
FlashGet - awesome free
download manager. Do you tire of downloads that seem to crawl down the
line at half your available bandwidth or less? Or get to the last byte
of that huge download only for the connection to drop and you have to start
all over? Well, FlashGet comes to the rescue. It uses very clever
technology to create multiple simultaneous connections to your
download to force the download at the maximum available bandwidth. You
can pause a large download so that you can tend to other internet activities
and resume again any time later! Unexpected connection drops
will frustrate your downloads no more because FlashGet always remembers where
it's up to in a download and can resume. Unlike other download
managers you will not get a rude shock when trying to load large (>2GB)
files, it will work!
SciTE free, open source text/code editor. This is my preferred editor.
It doesn't have as many features as something like PSPad, but SciTE loads
fast; you can right-click a file, select edit with SciTE and have it open
very quickly. Conversely, PSPad will make you wait for its feature
sets to load into memory which is painful when you want to make a few quick
edits. SciTE is a tabbed editor and supports colour-coding of
sourcecode and known filetypes. SciTE has all the features you need
for editing files. You can edit scite's global properties (see
SciTEGlobal.properties in scite's installation folder). One property
that's worth changing is caret.line.back - all you need to do is remove the
comment and it will start highlighting the line the caret is positioned on.
I have baked my own SciTE MSI installer which is a one-stop installer to get
the tabbed interface working from the explorer context menu
X-Chat - free, open
source multi-platform IRC client. The windows build on the XChat is
not free, it is shareware, but there are unofficial builds (legal under the
GPL license) that you can get which should work just as well. The unofficial
windows build I recommend is by
I must admit that I'm no IRC expert, and I guess that's one testament as to
why I think X-Chat is so great. I installed it, chose a server, joined
a channel, and started chatting! It is one of the few truly free IRC
chat clients that is actually worth the wait to download. For both
experienced and new IRC users I highly recommend this program.
JBidWatcher - This
is an excellent sniping utility for ebay bidding. It has a number of
other great features too, such as comments display. Using this
software I managed to score $600 worth of Carico Donatello flatware for $1
plus $10 postage. Sellers may protest, however, if you know about this
type of software you can also protect yourself against it (i.e., put a
minimum selling amount on not-so-popular items). Before selling
something expensive, know what you are doing - google "ebay selling".
- SABnzbd+ - This free
and open source binary usenet downloader is the simplest and most powerful
of the free bunch. Don't rely on torrents to get the latest linux
builds, usenet gives you full bandwidth every time.
- BudgetSwift -
Free home financial planning software.
- DaFont - Free fonts
site. This site has a huge selection of fonts and it allows you to
enter text which will be displayed as a preview against each font so you can
quickly decide on the look you are chasing. I use this site whenever I
need a different font, I even used a selection for my wedding material! Each font is distributed under its own license
determined by the author - usually free for personal use or unrestricted
Freeplane - Free, open source mind mapping software. Freeplane is
a fork of the popular FreeMind project, and some people are saying it is
better. I have started using Freeplane, and having come from using
Mind Manager I must say it is pretty good. Mind Manager licenses are
too expensive for all our team to buy, so I am now recommending Freeplane.
The only shortfall I have found with Freeplane is the lack of the ability to
paste images into Notes as you can with Mind Manager.
Free, open source screen grab software. My old workflow of grabbing
the screen and cropping in the Gimp was getting a little tiresome, so I
found this great software which is going to be a big timesaver for me.
It is packed with features, and best of all is open source.
- Free, open source shell enhancement for Vista and Windows 7.
Normally I steer well clear of shell addins and mods - I won't go so far as
to say they're bad, just that I've never had a good consistent experience
with them. Classic Shell is the exception, though I installed it for
one specific purpose. As a Windows 7 user I'm cursed with the
explorer tree bug. Classic Shell comes with the option 'Fix Folder
Scrolling' that fixes the issue seamlessly. It has plenty of options
and features, so checkout what features are important to you.
- Ever get frustrated copying text, then pasting it only to find it has
brought its formatting with it? Ever find yourself pasting to notepad,
then copying again to get nice unformatted text? Well, PureText to the
rescue. There are two ways of dealing with formatted text once it's in
the clipboard. The first way is to click on the little PT icon in the
system tray. The second way is to use Windows Key-v instead of CTRL-v
to paste. This utility is very small, loads instantly and uses next to
Free, open source virtual desktop utility. When I moved to Windows 7
some time ago I was disappointed that there was no virtual desktop manager
included. Whist I have used various utilities in the past, they
appeared to do little more than add instability to a perfectly good system.
Enter VirtuaWin, I've been using this utility and I'm very happy with its
stability and ease of use. It doesn't go too far to try to get into
Windows, it just does its job nicely. At the time of writing VirtuaWin
is compatible with all versions of windows post 3.11.
Free computer games:
- America's Army
- the U.S. army produced a game to try and increase their recruiting drive.
I'm not sure how successful it is in getting new recruits but it is a top
class first person shooter. Pitch your warfare skills against players
from all over the world on a variety of maps.
Heroes - This cartoon-based war game is a spinoff of the popular
'battlefield' series from EA games. It sacrifices realism for fun, and
best of all, it's free. Oh, and it's a new-generation browser based
game too which doesn't need a $1000 graphics card to run.
- Utopia -
free online strategy game. This is a text-based medieval war game
where you have your own 'province' in a 'kingdom'. Your kingdom
comprises of 25 provinces (which are people scattered all around the world),
and you all work as a democracy to pitch the strength of your kingdom
against other kingdoms in hostile, war, and even without any official
declarations. Don't be put off by the text-only thing; this is a real
game of courage, strategy, mateship, deception, diplomacy, revenge, spite
and outright evil ;). The only
downside of this game is you find yourself waking up in a cold sweat at
3:00am wondering if that big guy in the other kingdom has 'hit' you yet.
This is a great game to make new friends, I was playing this for a long time
- I actually stayed in the same team for 3 years! The only reason I
stopped playing was because I wanted to channel my spare time into other
stuff. Play it if you have a lot of free time with few commitments -
great for uni students, probably bad for exam time.
Whether you want to backup your movie collection, or mount or burn an ISO
image I've found all the tools you need. Do NOT buy ANY program for
handling CD's or DVD's or ISO's, use one of these free programs.
- DoISO -
My own creation (with much help from mkisofs).
WinCDEmu needs ISO's; why use commercial software to
create your ISO's when you can make them for free?
- ImgBurn - From the
maker of DVD Decrypter is this fantastic image and file burner. Don't
buy Nero, use this program instead.
- WinCDEmu - keep your full CD's in a single ISO file on your hard
disk and access it via a virtual CD ROM drive. WinCDEmu is a
no-nonsense, free and open source solution. Being free and open
source, you will be forever protected from commercialisation and regular
releases will ensure a stable working environment. Get much better
performance from CD's you need to access constantly or administrators can
make a software ISO archive so machines can be rebuilt without digging
through mountains of CD's. You can install software to "run from CD",
and use an ISO. Use
DoISO to create your own ISO's.
IsoPuzzle - a brilliant program for making CD's and DVD's into ISO's.
What sets IsoPuzzle apart is its ability to recover scratched discs.
You obviously can't recover a disc that is practically mutilated, but you
can recover most discs which report a bad read in other software. It
will create an ISO just as quickly as any other ISO creation program, it
will only slow down if it needs to recover a hard to read block.
DVD Decrypter - Project is dead but you can still find the software if
you search. This is still a great DVD decrypting program. In the scheme of
things, this software doesn't do any more than the decryption in DVD Shrink,
so you might wonder why you would add this software for an extra,
unnecessary step in backing up your DVD's? Well, the simple answer is that
when DVD Shrink has trouble reading a DVD, such as when there is a small
scratch, sometimes DVD Decrypter comes to the rescue and will successfully
read the disk. It's a handy program to have for those occasions, however it
won't save you from deep scratches.
- DVD Shrink
- the ultimate DVD backup software. Believe me, I have tried all the
software and DVD Shrink wins hands down in ease of use and features.
Making a complete backup or stripping out the main movie is a piece of cake,
as is the ease in which you can remove menus, foreign language audio,
director's comments and subtitles. If the resulting movie won't fit on
one DVD, then no problem, it will compress the movie the exact amount it
needs to fit while maintaining very high quality. This software will
decrypt encrypted DVD's and optionally remove restrictions such as region
and macrovision. For a straight-down-the-line guide, go to the
Doom9 tutorial. Just follow the links inside the tutorial to
expand it in the direction of the type of backup you want to do. It's
simple to follow with good screenshots.
open-source CD ripper. This program is great, it circumvents copy
protections to give you a perfect backup copy of your CD's. Forget
spending good money buying rippers, this software will be your final stop.
I'm not encouraging anyone to pirate recordings they haven't bought, but
many countries allow you to make personal backups of your collection.
Whether you are a graphic artist, a musician or just want to touch up family
photos and edit the family videos there is free software available for you.
- This is a fantastic media centre application, and it's free and open
source! Get yourself a cheap (sub-$50) USB digital TV tuner,
connect your PC to your TV, and with this software you've got yourself a
PVR. Add your movie library and you've got a virtual video store.
Plugins extend the capabilities of this brilliant software infinitely -
three of which are a movie cataloguing plugin called Moving Pictures, a
season management plugin called MP-TVSeries and a movie trailer viewer
called MyTrailers. With the use of this software I have actually
retired my $600 digital set top box, it is that good.
Lightworks - free, to be open-sourced fully featured video editor.
Can't afford Premiere? Think the 'free' video editing tools out
there are dodgey? Well check out Lightworks, this editor does all
of the usual things with multi-track video and audio, transitions, audio
level control, and much, much more. It even supports team editing
on the same project. With each release there is a multitude of
changes in the log, so this thing is being very actively worked on.
Handbrake - free,
open source video encoding software. There are many, many options
for working with video, and of them all this open source option is by
far the best. You can easily convert video formats or create
backups of DVD video. Video conversion can be batched to automate
those big jobs.
free, open-source audio editing software. Although I haven't played
with this much, it seems like a nice, comprehensive piece of audio editing
software that could be a good alternative to the commercial Sound Forge from
LMMS - Linux
MultiMedia Studio. Free, open-source multimedia studio for Linux and
Windows. Although I have yet to look at all the features of this
software, it looks like the best free virtual studio out there.
VirtualDub - this
is a very handy little video editing tool that is deceptively powerful, and
it's free & open source. I use it mostly for repairing out-of-sync
audio or for joining or splitting streams. It has a quick and easy
option for 'direct stream copy' that does not try to re-compress everything
when all you want is a quick edit - that is the major shortfall of most
other similar types of software.
VideoLan - free, open
source, cross platform media player that plays most available formats.
This is a pretty handy program to have, even if you do use it as a second
player because it solves having to have lots of various players for all the
different formats. The only major format it doesn't seem to support is
Real. It has playlists and is easy to use. You can even use it
as a streaming server.
- ccmixter -
free, creative commons music. Some really nice music here.
Free software for touching up photos, creating original artwork, 3D
modelling, vector graphics and diagramming.
The Gimp - a serious
open source free
image manipulation tool. This is now my imaging tool of choice.
For top notch creativity tips, visit
The ONLY reason you would need to purchase a program such as photoshop
over using the Gimp is that the Gimp is restricted to 8 bit editing,
which is not terribly useful for professional photo production.
- free open source vector graphics editor. This seems to be the pick
of the bunch, with professional features and complying to the W3C SVG
standards I'd have to say this is the premiere open source vector graphics
software. It has a large number of features, including text on paths,
text overflow effects, bitmap tracing, the list goes on and on.
Picturenaut - free HDR software. Picturenaut stands out as
probably the best free HDR programs around. It does such a good
job that you probably don't even need commercial software for HDR work.
I tried it on some 16bit TIF images I prepared and it did a great job.
Royalty Free Icons & Clipart
Stock Images - use any of the icons and clipart on this site for any
purpose you like (except for distributing the icons as your own).
OpenClipArt - now
that you have some serious graphic design software, get yourself some free
and open clipart.
Icon Library - awesome set of free icons to use for your project
- a set of beautiful icons licensed under the LGPL for use in your
projects. Don't re-invent the wheel!
Dia - a
free open source diagramming tool. Has a number of technical diagram
VisioModeler - a free (and unsupported) database design tool using
semantic modeling from Microsoft.
- Microsoft ICE -
Microsoft Image Composition Editor. This is a free panorama stitcher which has worked more reliably than Adobe CS5 and Hugin. In the two fore-mentioned
products stitching errors were apparent, though with Hugin these were rather minor. Hugin also appeared to be happy to allow highlights to be blown out whilst
ICE managed to create a very smooth blend of horribly mismatched exposures whilst ensuring the histogram was not pushed into extremes. At first, I didn't
like the projection that ICE created compared to Hugin's, but this was easily adjusted by dragging the projection around. CS5 could not even complete the stitch
with large images, they all had to be resized. Now that free stitching tools are getting so good, it's time for you to start googling things like the
Brenizer Method to get that creativity flowing without being limited by your tools ;).
- Hugin -
free, open source photo stitching software. Whilst this software remains as a very good alternative, I have since moved on to the brilliant
- free online service for converting png files into ICO files. The
service is fast (as in immediate) and effective.
Ximagic Denoiser - freeware noise reduction plugin for photoshop.
This noise reduction software compares to the best products out there,
albeit the user interface being a bit complicated. I use DCT with
Enhanced switched on, and all other settings default. You may need
to tweak for different types of photos.
the gallery and screenshots for each product to get an idea of what you can
Blender - a
seriously full-featured 3D modeller and renderer. Can
import/export a number of formats, can be used for game scenario
creation (with collision detection etc.) and create animations and
videos. A mind blowing array of features for free. The
features are daunting, so begin your readings with
Blender 3D: Noob to Pro.
- Yafray - 'Yet
Another Free Raytracer' - free, open source ray tracing program.
Yafray is the choice renderer for Blender, though not required for
Blender. Yafray opens up some sophisticated render features not
available to blender.
- LuxRender -
A free, open source unbiased renderer.
free, open source humanoid modelling plugin for Blender.
ArtOfIllusion - free, open source modeller/renderer. This
looks like a great product which allows you to perform some
sophisticated modelling and animation. Support for skinning and
animation are an example of the powerful features.
- Pov-Ray - a
free, open source rendering engine. This software in itself
doesn't have a built-in modeller, but existing modellers can export the Pov-Ray format. Pov-Ray is a high precision
renderer which is capable of renders which rival any commercial product
available. With an outstanding array of effects, texturing and
mesh options, this package is unbeatable. Combine it with your
favourite modeller to get photo-realistic renderings.
- K-3D -
free, open source renderman modeller.
- free, open source spline-based 3D modeller. Can output formats
for renderman compliant renders, or Pov-Ray.
- import models from a number of different formats, and export to other
formats. Tweak the models with the in-build manipulation tools
before exporting. Very handy for converting model formats and
- free, open source modeller for Pov-Ray.
- OpenFX - a
serious 3D modelling, rendering and animation tool. Free and open
source. Many plugins are available to produce special effects.
System software covers software that you don't interact with so much but sits
in the background keeping your home or small office network/computers running in
a managed fashion.
FlexRAID - If you're considering buying a NAS (Network
Attached Storage) for backing up your important data, and it is
mainly for bulk storage as opposed to a large, live data source
like a database, then consider FlexRAID. This free
solution allows for distributed storage to be treated as one
large local drive. The advantage is that you can mix &
match media and you can configure it for failover to taste.
In general you can match your largest storage drive in your
array with one redundant drive that synchronises parity.
If any drive fails you can replace it and recover all data that
was on that drive. You can also recover any accidentally
deleted files providing you haven't re-synchronised before the
attempt at undeleting. There is an upcoming eagerly
awaited version of FlexRAID Live which will automatically handle
synchronisation bringing it inline with other commercial
Softerra LDAP Browser - If you want to browse an ldap
directory, this is the tool for you.
Partition Wizard - free partition management software is
difficult to come by, and often there are limitations which make
the software unusable on modern systems. I tested
Partition Wizard on a laptop running Windows 7 64bit and it
Clonezilla - This
professional-grade software allows you to clone your PC installation for
quick re-deployment or as a backup. Both enterprise and single PC
versions are available. Pretty surprising for free and open source
software! For cloning a single PC you can simply burn the provided
bootable Clonezilla ISO to a CD/DVD and get cloning in minutes.
Handler - free open source software for accelerating the
copy process on Windows. This utility is feature packed,
replacing the built-in default file copy process.
Bulk Rename Utility - just like the name says, this is a
free file rename utility. You can rename in a myriad of
ways for a myriad of purposes. Not a tool that you would
use often, but when you need it, it's the greatest tool out
Informational/Educational (Read and Explore)
Although a number of the software tools I have mentioned are quite relevant
to education, there are utilities that students would find most useful in
referencing during study.
Technologies - breathtaking suite of free software which brings science
to your home for entertainment or learning. There are a number of programs
available for download, here are a few:
SVS: Scientific Visualisation Studio lets you visualise animated
scientific data of earth while controlling a 3D representation of the
Virtual Lab: you control a virtual electron microscope where you can
select samples and pan & zoom up to 3,600X! More samples are being
added as the software is updated.
- Virtual Field Trip: "The Virtual Field Trip is an immersive multimedia
application developed to support student and user exploration of areas on
Earth that have been identified as analog sites to regions on Mars."
- free 3D space explorer. Explore our solar system and beyond.
Extremely comprehensive, this tool is a great way to get to know the
- Google Earth -
free satellite imagery. this is one of the best services I have seen
to-date on the net. If you have a fast enough connection you could spend
literally years looking through this interface - how long do you think it
would take you to have a detailed look at the entire land surface area of
the earth? Basically you are presented with an outer space
view of the earth which you can spin around using your mouse. Once you
centre the location of interest on the screen you can start zooming in - in
many areas you can zoom to the point where you can make out cars and trees,
and easily read airport runway markers. You can follow roads, and
where supported you can actually have map overlays. One of the most
amazing features I've seen with Google Earth is the elevation data.
Once you zoom in on a location you can actually tilt it up until you are
looking along the ground so that you can see surrounding hills and valleys.
Go into the Grand Canyon and you can literally follow the bottom with the
walls of the canyon towering up either side. This is all topped off by
the most accurate street maps available, street view, ocean topology and
much, much more. You have to see it to
CIA World Fact Book - free downloadable/online world reference. Developed by the CIA for
the CIA, you can find out just about anything on every country, including
maps, GDP, birth rates, death rates, the list goes on and on and on!
- Start Natural
Language Question Answering System - search for facts in plain english.
This is the smartest, most thorough fact searching utility I have ever seen
(if someone finds a smarter one I'd love to know!). Ask a question
like "what is the largest body of water in the world?" and you will get the
answer: "With an area of 152,239 square miles, Caspian Sea is the largest
lake in the world." along with references and links. You can ask "what
does an African elephant look like?" and Start will give you hyperlinks to
pictures of African elephants. Try an obscure question like "how far
is it from rockhampton australia to new york?" and you will be presented a
correct answer. All facts from the CIA factbook have been fed into
Start, and many reference sites from the web have also been added as
information resources to expand the knowledge base. It has to be tried
to be believed.
- WikiPedia - a
comprehensive online encyclopedia. One of the criticisms of this is
that if you were to use it for classroom reference it could be vandalised or
have an incorrect edit at any time during use - which means that students
will be viewing varying forms of the reference. A workaround is to
review a page before dissemination, then use the history tab to get the
tagged version of the page so that all students are referencing the same
page. Of course, you must have enough knowledge or cross-reference
material to ensure that the current version is true & correct. This is
what separates wikipedia from a definitive encyclopedia relevant for
classroom use. One controversial issue with wikipedia is its fear of
dilution, even though it has no limits as does a paper volume (for all
practical purposes). Its policies allow for it to be easier to remove
material than to add it. Adding to all this, stubs cannot be created,
only fully referenced, complete articles.
I find this needs a section of its own because it fits into both desktop
software and programming. You can use version control to manage document
versions, as well as source code versioning:
free, open source diff/merge program. This is probably the pick of the
- free, open source file difference program.
- Subversion -
the self-proclaimed successor to CVS. Subversion is a terrific version
control solution which handles text-based and binary files, both distributed
and local, with support for UNC paths and levels of security. It can
run with or without a server, but if you're going distributed, you'll need
the server. This is a truly powerful version control solution that
can't be overlooked. It does not enforce versions with locking -
rather it assists to merge various modifications. Because I like this
software so much I am now in charge of the win32 installer releases for
- the desktop companion for Subversion. It integrates nicely into
windows explorer, allowing you to manage your version control with a click
of a couple of buttons. For example, to update files from a
repository, you normally go to a command prompt, go to the right folder,
then type in the command "svn update". That's simple enough, but with
TortoiseSVN, you just right-click the folder and select the 'SVN Update'
command. Most Subversion features are available from the shortcut
- git - the 'new kid on
the block' promises faster more efficient version control with better
merging for team version control. Many large projects are migrating
their version control from subversion to git
TortoiseGit - a port of the GUI tool provided for Subversion, this
eliminates the need to remember all those commandline parameters, and allows
you to perform all your version control visually straight from Windows
Explorer rather than a command prompt
.Net Programming Tools (incl. Mono), Controls, Classes, Add-Ins & Database
Tools you need to construct professional quality software in .Net:
- a free open source .Net development IDE. Where possible, this is my
primary development tool.
Studio Express Editions - Don't let the 'Express' in the naming of these
tools fool you - this is one powerful set of tools that will meet the needs
of most developers for most sized projects. Covering c#, VB.Net,
Visual c++ and ASP.Net, you have access to complete development environments
with intellisense and debugging. You don't get access to Microsoft's
deployment projects and you are unable to create mixed-language solutions
(however you can take a compiled DLL from another language and stick it in
the references). You also unfortunately do not have access to pocket
PC development tools which is a big shame because there are few options
available. For creating high quality MSI installations I recommend
making a separate WiX project in SharpDevelop to package your application.
Microsoft SQL Server Express - you need the power of SQL Server in a small scale
application but don't want to spend thousands? Well I'm sure that 'free'
sounds like a nice price. I love having access to User Defined
Functions, Stored Procedures, Triggers, and all the rest.
NUnit - free, open
source unit testing tool for .Net. NUnit supports all .Net languages
and it is fantastic. If you don't know what unit testing is, learn
today! Basically it allows you to write small test methods for your
class methods and test return results. This is far easier than writing
separate test applications or running the debugger everytime you make a code
change. It also retains all your tests so that when you make numerous
modifications you just run the unit tests and it tests all your methods with
your preset conditions.
- TestDriven.Net -
free unit testing add-in for Visual Studio .Net. When looking for
integrated solutions I had never heard of this product, but once I installed
it I haven't looked back, it is great! You can write unit testing code
and test it on-the-fly in the IDE - and you have full right-click control
over what you test. You can right-click on a single test sub and
choose to run that test on its own, right-click on the head of a test class
and have all the test methods run, right-click on a source file and have all
contained test classes run, or right-click on a project and have all tests
in the test project run. That is the most flexibility you will ever
need - I find it excellent for testing single methods until I get them right
- it decreases the amount of time you need to be using the debugger
exponentially. TestDriven works in Visual Studio .Net 2003 & 2005.
It is slightly unstable, but it won't affect the IDE itself. If you
need to continue testing, but TestDriven ceases to operate properly, just
close the IDE and reopen.
- Sqlite - free, open
source embeddable, fully featured database. This is a great little
database for packaging into applications for managing associated data.
- Postgresql - free, open source
enterprise grade database server. Use this when you want to get
serious with your database but don't want to spend any money on it. I
recently witnessed a project move its primary database back-end from Oracle
to Postgresql for a large base of concurrent users and it is performing very
- free code generator and O/R (object relations) mapping tool. This is
a comprehensive, extensible tool for generating code. I have yet to
explore this tool but it looks very professional.
DockPanel Suite - awesome open source docking.
VB.DOC - open
documentation system, works both standalone or with Visual Studio .Net or as
a NAnt task. It creates C# style XML documentation from your comments.
Use NDoc to compile your documentation.
NDoc - open
your programming work in style: "generates class library documentation from
.NET assemblies and the XML documentation files generated by the C# compiler
(or with an add-on tool for VB.Net)". The output formats supported are
terrific, including the MSDN-style HTML Help format (.chm), the Visual
Studio .Net help format (HTML Help 2) and MSDN-online style web pages.
Custom Help Builder - builds help from your XML comments output to
integrate into Visual Studio .Net 2003, including context-sensitive help for
your own documented objects!
Ezfuscator.Net - simple and effective integrated or drag & drop
obfuscation for your .Net Framework projects.
General Software Development Tools
Tools for general software development:
an open source toolset that builds Windows installation packages from XML source code.
This is a project released to open source by Microsoft! Some of my
software is packaged with WiX.
SharpDevelop has a WiX editor built-in
for easier WiX XML file creation.
XML - DTD for making those help files. Also see
Mantis - free,
open source online bug tracking software. This is what I use.
- SoapUI - free, open
source web services testing software. Test web services on the fly.
Tools to manage and make your website better:
- free, open source ftp client/server. I haven't tried this as a
server, but as an FTP client it is great. It's as good as the
commercial products but you don't need to pay a cent.
Wikka - free,
open source wiki. This is a simple to install, simple to use full
Even More Free Software