If you’ve met me, you know I talk a lot about IDEs (I currently rave about IntelliJ to everyone I know). But while I have my IDE open all day, there’s a completely different set of trusty tools* I rely on to take care of the “other stuff”. If you think I’m missing something or that I’m raving lunatic, please call me out on it in the comments. (I use Windows 7 as my primary OS, so I’m sure I’ve missed great mac/*nix tools out there)
Charles ($50 or less)
Charles is the savior of service inspection. If your app loads any data, then you need Charles to give you all the info you could ever want about what’s going on behind the magic curtain.
The feature set never ceases to amaze me: saving out all the load files, comparing two different services responses, redirecting requests to a different domain, etc, etc, etc. It’s really worth every penny.
SOS Max (Free)
Debugging and profiling are extremely important to any development process. But logging is the best way to find out what’s really “going on” in your app. FlashBuilder, FDT, Intellij, etc all have a “console” that can display traces if you’re already debugging, but SOS Max let’s you have all your logs display in a separate open window even if you’re not debugging. It even allows you to log Flash, Java, and PHP all in the same window and filter the logs based on regex.
Snagit ($50 or less)
Snagit makes the process of sending someone a screenshot awesome. If someone is asking me about a visual issue, I just hit “print screen”, select the screen/area/page I want to capture, use the Snagit editor to crop/add arrows/add notes, and then send as an email/ftp/whatever all in the fastest, easiest, and most powerful way I can imagine. I love tools that do their specific job well and I honestly think Snagit takes care of the screenshot process perfectly.
Everyone already uses firebug already, right? Right.
Meazure (Free/Windows only)
Meazure is one of those old-school powerhouse tools that look like crap, but does exactly what it claims. This tiny tool will give you a complete overload of measuring information for anything on screen (which is a good thing) and also allows you to fine-tune your selection with zoom levels, rulers, grids, and the kitchen sink.
(I think meazure and Snagit should get married and give birth to a screenshot/measuring/visual info titan.)
Everything (Free/Windows only)
“Everything” is the ultimate windows search tool. It will instantly find any file on your hard drive and even let you use wildcards in your searches. I simply don’t use the regular Windows search anymore because this is so much better.
Vista Switcher (Free/Windows only)
Vista Switcher is just alt-tab, but waaaaaaaaaay better. (Ignore the “vista” part in the title, because it works perfectly on Win7 too)
There are plenty of other awesome tools out there that I use, but only occasionally (I use the list above pretty much daily): Notepad++, Cygwin, putty, AutoHotkey, winscp, Camtasia, and some others that I can’t think of right now ;)
*Intellij actually has great ftp/version control/etc and other plugins related to the “coding workflow”, so I don’t mention any of the alternatives here because I just don’t use them.