How to setup your developer workstation

How to setup your developer workstation

My development tools and setup have changed a lot over the years. For many developers like myself, these changes have mainly been driven by shifts in technology and languages. When I began my career as a software engineer my tooling was geared towards Windows application development. Around the year 2005 my focus shifted to the web with technologies like ASP.Net and JavaScript. But now I find myself spending quite a lot of time creating server side libraries and working with Rust. In this article I’m going to share what I’ve found worked best for working with .NET and building applications for mobile devices and the web.

Regardless of the countless options out there for working with JavaScript, HTML and CSS; Microsoft’s Visual Studio has remained the gold standard for web development. This is especially true when your tasks involve working with .NET or targeting mobile devices like Android or iOS.

I usually like to start out with an up to date clean installation of Windows 10. Contrary to what some might say, you don’t need a monstrous hardware configuration. I have found an Intel i5 with 8GB of memory is a good starting point. The next step is downloading the latest version of Visual Studio. You can find that here.

Visual Studio Download

Downloading and configuring Visual Studio has never been easier. The installation process deploys the tools and dependencies necessary based on your preferred programming language and target. In my case that means ASP.NET and web development along with Azure development, .NET desktop development, Desktop development with C++, Universal Windows Platform development, Mobile development with .NET, Data storage and processing also including .NET Core cross-platform development.

visual studio installation details

visual studio installation details 2

The next step depends on your data storage requirements. In my case that means SQL. Visual Studio has tools for connecting to and managing SQL but more often than not I find them not to be enough. Even when utilizing a code first approach and working with Entity Framework, SQL Management Studio, SQL Server Profiler and Database Engine Tuning Advisor are a must. These tools will ensure you are ready to take on the task of working with SQL tables, views, stored procedures and SQL data itself. You can find these here. This combination provides a solid foundation, but there still ways to enhance your experience by way of Visual Studio Extensions.

visual studio extension marketplace

Many exist, some are paid, some are free and some are useless. But there are many which can help boost your productivity and abilities with just a few clicks. One of those options is aptly named “Visual Studio Productivity Power Tools”. This particular extension provides excellent error and warning visualization, match margin which marks a highlighted variable across active documents, quick launch tasks with features like collapse all regions as well as many other useful shortcuts and helpers to make coding as friction-free as possible.

visual studio extension productivity power tools

Another invaluable resource for web developers is your browser’s built in “developer tools”. For the purpose of this article we’re going to look at the Chromium based flavor. This tool provides incredible insight into your  application, it allows you to make style adjustments in real time, track network traffic, storage, inspect all elements of your application, track performance and most importantly emulate many types of devices.

Microsoft edge developer tools

It would be impossible for me to mention all of the extensions and applications which could help you in your coding journey. But I’ve found this to be a good combination which ensures you’re stacked with the necessary tools to tackle most tasks thrown your way.

Are there specific tools you feel we should have mentioned? We would love to hear about them!

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