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ToolBox - as of February, 2018


In this repository is nothing more than this file and any tool related files such as configurations that I've modified for my use.

Feel free to use any of the modified configuration files, however I do not support any of the programs I've listed here. So if you run into trouble with them or with configuring them you may have to contact the authors of the related software.

Please keep in mind that all of the programs I've listed below are free and are installed in Windows. And at the least there's a free version available and it's the one I'm using. If I've paid for one it will be noted below.

Unless something specific needs to be noted I will not be providing any installation instructions. As they would eventually become out of date when the associated application is updated.

Table of Contents

My Development Platform

I'm a Windows guy, never used an Apple and probably never will. If you (the reader) are using an Apple then a lot of what's in this document may not apply to you. However some of the tools might be available for the Apple. Check out the links I've provided and look around.

Windows Details :

  • Windows 10
    • Home and Pro Editions
    • 64 bit
  • Windows 7
    • Professional
    • 64 bit


Another piece of my development platform is NodeJS. I'm currently using v6.10.2 LTS. I've found that Node can be quite useful for developing code prior to integration into a browser project.


The version I'm using is 5.7. SQL has been around for quite a long time. It has clear advantages in regards to it wide spread use. And technically speaking MySQL is robust and secure. Many businesses use it, and it can be found in most hosting service packages. Mainstream web applications like Wordpress use it, and most e-commerce packages also make use of it.


I like this database for a few reasons -

  • Data is stored in JSON / BSON (
  • If your hosting service doesn't provide it you can sign up for an mLab account ( and have your data stored on their servers. The free account has enough capacity for most applications.
  • When paired with Mongoose ( and the Bluebird promise API MongoDB becomes a very reasonable alternative to SQL databases.
  • In my opinion it's much easier to implement than MySQL.

Editing Tools

Notepad++ :

This is my primary editor, and I've been using it for quite a number of years. It has a lot of features and I use most of them on a regular basis. I've tried other editors but found them to be lacking in regards to the features I use. For example in Notepad++ I use :

  • Column cut/copy and past - Until you use this feature you won't know what your missing. By holding ALT plus SHIFT and moving with the arrow keys you can do things like -
    • Insert on all lines selected, this includes tabs and spaces.
    • Replace or delete.
  • Macro recording - Another very useful feature! You can record keystrokes and play them back. This is very useful when you want to repeat a series of editing steps.
  • Notes for Windows Users:
    • Changing editor settings - This can be a problem. At least it is in v7.2.2. You might discover that your changed settings aren't permanent. This is because you need to run the editor as an administrator when changing the options.

Markdown Edit :

A handy program to have for editing markdown files. I've tried a number of them and this one works best for Git style markdown files. I also use it for Bitbucket markdown, but should be noted that Git and Bitbucket are slightly different in regards to the markdown that's recognized. This editor has the following features that I find to be useful -

  • Side-by-side editing and WYSIWYG - the left side of the program's window is where you do your editing. It highlights markdown elements for you and has some "smarts" in regards to bulleted lists as it will create a new bullet on the next line when you hit Enter and the new line will be at the same level as the previous line.
  • Re-opens last file automatically when started.
  • Installation associates it with *.md files.

I used it to create and edit this file.

File Grep and File Search

AstroGrep :

Anyone who has been working in Linux (or Unix for some of us "old timers") you have probably use the command-line utility grep. It is useful, but a gui version is so much better! And that's what this is. It's a GUI grep tool with the ability to tie in to your editor. For example you can configure AstroGrep to open a found file in your editor on the line you've double-clicked on in the results pane.

Windows Search: Admittedly, definitely not the best. But it works. If I find a better file search I'll be sure to note it here.

File Difference and Merge

Winmerge :

What's the difference? Being able to see the differences between two source files can mean the difference between finding the bug quickly or potentially taking a real long time.

This application will allow you to edit or copy changes from one file to another. It can also be used to compare the contents of a folder against another.

Version Control

Gitkraken :

This is my favorite Git UI tool. It works perfectly for Github and Bitbucket. It's free for non-commercial use. And it also runs on Mac and Linux.

IDE Software

Visual Studio Code :

I've recently started using Visual Studio Code and so far I really like it. And compared to Netbeans it certainly has some advantages. Here's the ones I've found so far -

  • The Visual Studio Code IDE loads quickly, much faster than Netbeans.
  • No cumbersome "projects", just open a folder and have at it!
  • IDE extensions are managed better than Netbeans.

Bootstrap Studio :

This is one of the few programs that I've paid for. And this one has proven to be worth beyond the $25 I spent. Basically it's a WYSIWYG Bootstrap editor within an IDE.

They don't offer a trial version but they do provide a web version that you can tinker with. And there are a lot of video tutorials, and a users' forum.

But it is not an HTML editor. You create Bootstrap pages by inserting or drag-n-drop elements in to the page. I found it to be a better and quicker means to create a layout than using just a text editor (such as Notepad++).

Some aspects of the UI can be a little quirky, as it does not always let you insert tags or blocks where you want them. And it will make some assumptions for you. For example, for modularity reasons I like to have my HTML files associated with a single and individually named CSS file rather than pile every page's specific CSS into one huge file. But the program assumes that all HTML files will reference all CSS files. So I don't use this program to create deployment ready content.

There are some really great features -

  • Preview - you can preview the page your working on in real time. In other words, as you make changes and save them the preview will update automatically.
  • Export - even though your project is saved in a proprietary format it's easy to export it as HTML, CSS, JS and image files.
  • Add to Library - this makes reuse of blocks really simple. You can export as little, or as as much as you like and it ends up your own library.
  • Element navigation - they've made it very intuitive for navigating through the elements and they provide a really good UI for changing attributes.

Netbeans 8.x :

A very full featured IDE that allows you to edit, debug, and manage (i.e. Git) HTML5/JavaScript, Node, and PHP applications. I use it with Chrome, which requires a plugin to be installed.

Online Tools

EpochConverter :

Very useful for converting epoch values (like 1519280283) to human readable date & time strings, and from strings to epoch values. There are also code samples in C, MySQL, PERL, PHP, VBScript/ASP, and Javascript.

PhpFiddle :

This tool has worked very well for me. I've used it to debug some PHP classes that access web APIs. It's free and relatively easy to use.

Is It Down Right Now ? :

Useful when you're trying to visit a site and nothing happens. This tool is a good "sanity check" for when that occurs.

Create your Google Sitemap Online - XML Sitemaps Generator :

If you're working with Google and SEO this site will crawl your site and automatically generate a sitemap for you. It's a free service for small web sites (less than 500 pages).

Can I use :

Very handy for checking if a browser supports a feature.

Professional lorem ipsum generator for typographers :

A useful tool that generates Lorem Ipsum text for use as temporary filler on a web page.

HSL Color Picker :

A very nice color picker, provides 3 types of color representations.

Bootstrap Live Customizer :

Allows you to load a Bootstrap theme and then customize it. Very handy when you want to make adjustments to the CSS that's been provided in a theme. Since it is a live adjustment it's great for visualizing changes before committing them to your site.

html shell :

Let's you create an HTML page boilerplate, there are a number of options that you can enable or disable.

Other Useful Tools

API Testers

Postman :

This is another one of those multi-use tools. So far I've used it for -

  • Typical API development and testing.
  • Analyzing web based hardware (such as IP cameras) APIs.

A very useful feature is the ability to share Postman collections. Collections are saved URLs that you can create and add to a named collection. And they can be shared! You only need to sign-in to Postman.

Wire Frame and Diagram Editors

Evolus Pencil :

This is a free and open-source GUI prototyping tool. I use it for wire-framing and for creating diagrams. It can export to PNG files which makes it useful for creating images for markdown and other types of documents.

Microsoft Visio :

Definitely not free. But it is an excellent diagramming tool with lots of features. If you can afford it I'd recommend Visio over Pencil.

Image Editors

PaintDOTNet :

An excellent image editing tool, it's my favorite. It supports all common formats and you can work in layers which makes compositing very easy.

Virtual Machine

Oracle VirtualBox :

HAve you ever run into a situation where you needed a real server and didn't have the hardware for it, or hosting? Then a virtual machine might be the solution. During development on some projects I've found it best to run the code on a VM first before deploying to a hosted server.

ISO Installations

Installing from an ISO is simple. Especially in Windows 10 Pro because mounting an ISO as a virtual drive can be done by right clicking on the ISO file an clicking "Mount".

Then run Virtualbox and as the VM is coming up you will be given a chance to select the mount ISO.

ISO Sources

A very good source for free Linux/Debian images. Most are pre-configured with other free software components and generally do not require much (if any) configuration.

  • Others : Any of the Linux distro sites will have ISOs for download.

64 vs 32 Bit Guests

When I was running VirtualBox on Windows 7 Pro / 64 bit I was able to install 64 bit guests. However when I switched to Windows 10 Pro / 64 bit that ability went away.

There are a couple of reasons why it happened. First, you need to enable the Intel virtualization in your BIOS. And you may (or may not) have to install VirtualBox as an administrator. I had tried reinstalling VirtualBox before I tried the BIOS change and had no luck. But when I changed my BIOS and then ran VirtualBox the 64 bit guest options reappeared.

Here's a link that found useful in fixing this issue -

Things to Note

Networking : Late last year one of the Windows 10 Home 64 bit updates "broke" networking with the virtual machines. Prior to the breakage my virtual machines were able to make DHCP requests and obtain their IP address from my router. But no more. I've read some complaints about this at that time, however there were no solutions.

However, running on Windows 10 Pro 64 bit the problem appears to have been either fixed, or non-existent. I'll have to try my laptop again (running Win 10 Home 64 bit) and see if the issue is still there.

In order for the VM to make the DHCP request a VM network setting must be changed. This can be done prior to installing from the ISO. By default the VM network adapter is set to NAT. Change to "Bridged Adapter" and your VM will be able to obtain its IP address.

Hyper-V :

After recently installing Microsoft Visual Studio Community I noticed that their virtual machine software called Hyper-V was installed. And afterwards when I ran VirtualBox it failed to start the virtual machine. After some research and reading I determined that Hyper-V was the cause of the problem. Just to be clear the symptoms manifest as the virtual machine window closing abruptly and a dialog contain the message VT-x is not available (VERR_VMX_NO_VMX).

The fix I used was to disable Hyper-V. And the most useful information I found was at How to Enable and Disable Hyper-V in Windows 10 & 8.

After Hyper-V was disabled VirtualBox worked without any issues. Success!

Terminal Emulators

Bitvise :

This is a much nicer terminal emulator than PuTTY. In addition to the terminal there's also an SFTP client. And I think it does a much better job of managing the SSH keys than other terminal programs. It allows you to create profiles for each server that you connect to. And those profiles can be copied between separate PCs that have Bitvise installed.

HTTP Servers

MAMP (not Pro) :

If a VM isn't what you want to use, but if instead you need something that's relatively light weight then a local server might be a better choice. You won't have complete control or flexibility as you would with a VM. But for a lot of applications less is better.

For additional information on setting up MAMP please see Mamp Setup


Recently I was trying to see if I could debug my PHP code using Visual Studio Code. Along the way I had determined that MAMP was not going to work out. So I tried XAMPP and had limited success. However I like the XAMPP UI better than MAMP. It provides an easier access to the configuration files and longs when compared to MAMP. The XAMPP version I'm using comes with PHP Version 5.6.31, which is a very close match to the hosted servers that I deploy to.

Please note that as described in Mamp Setup I'm using folder junctions. You can find the details under the Folder Junctions section in that file.

Database Managers

Currently I've been developing for MySQL and MongoDB. There are managers available for each, which is handy to have around.

When it comes to SQL vs NOSQL each has its advantages. When developing an application that requires a database I make my choice based on what is best for the application and its end-use.

MySQL Workbench

The specific version I'm using is -

  • MySQL Workbench Community (GPL) for Windows, version 6.3.7 CE build 1199 (64 bit)

It can connect to the local MySQL installation, and connect to remote ones. Such as Heroku or other hosted servers.


This app has a similar look and feel to MySQL Workbench and pretty much does the same type things as MySQL Workbench.

Tools That I Do Not Use

These are developer tools that I've tried for a while and subsequently decided that they were not going to work out for me.

Your mileage may vary....

Sublime Editor

I first heard about this editor in a class I had taken. It was a good choice for anyone who is new to the world of software development and it's available for the mac as well as the PC. However by comparison to Notepad++ it is missing a number of the key features that I use regularly.


I'm not a fan of Eclipse. I've tried to use it, and tried. But I find it to be cumbersome in regards to it's installation and use.

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