Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Small Tools

(Updated 7/10/07)

Part of the purpose of this blog is to remind myself of best practices I've discovered through the years I've been developing software. One of these best practices was brought to mind again in a recent conversation with a colleague.

Small, Combinable Tools

Unix, of course, is built around this philosophy. In essence, it is an extension of the practice of modular programming to applications. It allows us combine the functions of applications in an automatic or semiautomatic way. These are generally command-line tools, which may make them inconvenient in certain circumstances. Nevertheless, with a judicious layering approach, it is frequently possible to capture the best of both worlds - command-line combinable tools underneath, user-friendly GUI on top.


If you use Windows and you develop software, it is absolutely imperative that you download and use UnxUtils. They are native Win32 ports of many standard unix utilities, and they can be extraordinarily useful. Add them to your PATH. Oh, and if you're not comfortable in unix and, by extension, with these utilities, let me encourage you strongly to learn to use them well. You'll thank me later!

Windows SysInternals

Windows SysInternals. You may not need these beauties often, but when you need them, you need them badly. I believe that few (or none) of these are command-line operable (I may be mistaken).

Windows Utilities

Junction for symbolic directory links in Windows. Get it.
PathMan for path management, and a ton of other good stuff here.
Unlocker, a fabulous (GUI) utility for unlocking files, by Cedric Collumb.

Build Utilities

Ant and NAnt for builds.

Freeing pov2mesh

My pov2mesh utility is currently distributed under the shareware model. I've pretty much decided to release it as freeware. If I do this, I will refund the registered users and remove the registration code from the application. Refunding will be easy, because there are so few registered users! I will not release the full source now, although I may in the future. I've also developed a number of other small tools that I will slowly be polishing (a little, not much) and releasing here sometime.


($29) No, it's not a fanny pack. This executable packer is phenomenal.

Not So Small Tools


($50) My primary text editor. It loads fast and I love its Find/Replace In Files. TextPad's a close second.


($50) An easy-to-use, very lightweight profiler.

Araxis Merge

($129) I don't know how I'd live without it.


($35) Basic, inexpensive low-polygon 3d modeler than can import/export almost anything.

Ultimate Unwrap 3D

($50) Unwrap is great for texture mapping.

Paint Shop Pro

($90) Of course, as every game and web-developer who prefers Paint Shop Pro to Adobe's heavyweight (and expensive!) Photoshop knows. Now that Corel owns it, hopefully it will fare as well and not become as bloated (or expensive!) as Photoshop.

Gnu Prolog

Need a good Prolog implementation for expert system development or curiosity or anything else?

In the rare moments when I use Prolog, I use GNU Prolog.

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