My Daily Workflow (From scratch)

Published Mar 30, 2018Last updated May 22, 2018
My Daily Workflow (From scratch)

Web Developers and Designers use a lot of different tools in their daily lives, from the main ones, like their IDE of choice, to smaller, yet still very important choices, like what app to use to listen to their favorite music.

Today, I wanted to write a simple post about how to get started with a fresh install of Windows, and show exactly how to get going as fast as possible.

Prerequisite Software

The first thing you need to do is decide what languages you are going to write in. This is important, as many of them need some local SDK or compiler to be installed before you can actually use them. For example, before you can use Java, you need the Java SDK, and before you can use C or C++, you need, at minimum, CMake.

Many Web Developers don't use languages like Java or C++ in their daily lives, but many of them do use PHP, Python, Ruby, Rust, or Go. All of these need some form of compiler to operate natively on your computer. Some of the bigger IDEs will download and install them for you, but most of the more lightweight ones don't.

Additionally, you may also need additional libraries such as Visual C++ 2012, which is very common.

So, before installing any IDEs on your computer, make a list of each language you foresee yourself using, and check the prerequisites.

Browsers

It is vital to test every web application on every device you can, to ensure maximum compatibility. So, I recommend installing, at a minimum, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. If you are on Windows, you will also want to keep Edge and Internet Explorer at the ready, but I only use those for testing my apps, and use Firefox as my main browser.

The IDE(s)

Once you have installed the prerequisites, you can install the IDE(s) you need.

My personal favorite, and most complete, IDEs are the ones by JetBrains. I have been using them since about 2012, and nothing else comes close to being as usable for me, personally. Additionally, they are constantly adding new tools to their library, and are cross-platform, so you can get the same experience on Mac, Windows, and Linux.

During the installation and first-boot, you get the option to choose some themes, and some featured plugins that make things simpler, but they are all configurable at any time from the settings menu.

Local Databases and Other Tools

After I get my IDEs installed, I usually install a few other pieces of software to make things easier.

I use SQLite alongside MySQL for most of the databases I need, so having a local installation allows me to code and test without an internet connection.

Next, I install a piece of software called GreenShot. It is a very simple, but powerful, Screenshot tool that combines the Snipping Tool with other features, including a rather feature rich image editor, and the capability to upload directly to cloud services like Imgur and DropBox.

I can't make it through my day without some good tunes to code to, so I usually keep Spotify on in the background.

VMs

Never underestimate the power of a clean hard drive.

Installing every free piece of software you come across is not a great idea for a development PC. Therefore I always install a Virtual Machine or two on my computer, using a Windows and one or two distros of Linux.

My main machine has VMs of Windows XP, 7, 8.1, 10, and both Debian and Arch Linux.

Obviously this step is optional, but it has a few benefits. First off, you get a way to easily test your website or application in multiple environments. Testing your website in a modern browser is great, but those compatibility test sites only get you so far. They are great, until they aren't, and debugging from a local VM makes things easy.

The other benefit to having these VMs is twofold. You can install any piece of software you want and can create a snapshot of it so if anything happens you can always quickly restore without losing much. But also, you can use it as a sandbox for those sketchy attachments clients send you. We've all had those PDFs that for whatever reason you just don't quite trust. Now, you can copy it into the VM, look at it there, and it something goes wrong, just restore from your backup and keep going.

Profit

Once you do the following, you will have a PC ready to tackle any Web Development tasks.

Get out there and get coding!

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