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The best tools for software development - Quan Mai's blog

Development can be hard – as developers we want to spend time to write code to solve problems. Luckily, we have tools to solve our problems – so we can save the precious brain power for the coding, and let them handle everything else.

These tools are used by me on Windows, but most of they are available on multi-platforms.


Platform(s): Windows

Seriously, it’s a tool to search for everything, by name:

It’s incredibly helpful when you want to jump to check something outside of your solution, but you don’t know exactly where is it located. Save me 5 seconds for every file and I use it, like, (at least) 50 times a days. 6 days a week (on average). Imagine how much times I saved?

It’s freely available at

Sublime Text/Visual Studio Code:

Platform(s): Windows, Linux, MacOS.

Sublime Text is widely considered asthe defacto standard for text editing – it’s fast, it’s smooth, it has bunch of useful (or even awesome) plug-ins, and because everyone uses it for everything, the guides is freely available everywhere. But with two caveats: It’s not free (79$ is not really expensive, but not cheap neither), and it has been rarely updated recently (it was updated, like two times last year). Many questions have been raised about thedevelopment in its forum, but they are all left unanswered.

And Visual Studio Code is catching up. It’s free. It’s open source. It is being updated regularly (almost every week). It supports extensions. It supports markdown preview. When I first try Visual Studio Code, I went back to Sublime Text after 5 minutes. But now I can comfortably work with it almost all day. As I said, it’s catching up. I’ll not be surprised if one day I find I like it more than Sublime Text. It still does not support tabs, yet, but it’s only matter of time when it has already gained momentum.

Beyond Compare

Platform(s): Windows, Linux, Mac (Support for Mac was added for Beyond Compare 4)

The best compare and merge tool available. Period. You can throw almost anything at it. Text files. Folders. Zip files. And it just works.

Working collaboratively means inevitable conflicts. No, I meant merge conflicts. And most of the case Beyond Compare can help you solve those conflicts effortlessly.

It’salso extremely helpful in case you want to remove the minor changes you accidentally added to your files: white spaces, tabs, empty line, etc. etc. It’s not free, the Pro version costs 60$, but it’s worth every penny.

Git Extensions

Platform(s): Windows, Linux, Mac

The war of source control systems is over. Git has won. SVN is dead. SourceSafe is dead (it should be). Bitbucket lost the battle because of GitHub. Git is everywhere – but then there is a new war – war of git clients.

Everybody argues their git client is the best. Git bash. SourceTree. Git Tortoise. But I’ve been using Git Extensions since our team moved to Git. And I have never looked elsewhere. Not even once.

Git Extensions is powerful while still being initiative. I don’t have toremember the commands, and I can visualize how my branch stacks up – how it is behind or ahead of a branch. And what do I have in pending changes. I can rebase, merge, squash, force push with just a couple of clicks. Git Extensions makes Git easy to use.

The only drawback of Git Extensions, well, it is still using SourceForge. Seriously, move away from there.

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