User Tools

Site Tools


Here are some tools which can seriously help you increase your productivity (or at least help reducing the waste of time).

Source control

Yes, you need source control, even if you are working alone. A good source control software makes it possible to track all the changes you made, put labels on certain versions, or to work on separate branches of the project. With this you always have a fail safe version to rely on if something goes wrong. Here are the two I recommend:

To be perfectly honest, I don't like Subversion and I really appreciate Perforce. Now well, one is a commercial product (costly) and the second one is free. Subversion is quite reliable and usable, but the client side, the available tools, etc… are all totally outdated. It's basically a minimalistic system, devised for masochists who believe the working with branches and handling conflicts is something fun. The less worse Windows client so far is still Tortoise SVN which unfortunately inherits of all the bugs of both the Subversion client code and windows explorer fancyness…

Perforce is costly 1), but you know what you pay for. The merge tools are way better, the change list concept is brilliant, the various user interfaces are practical to use, the diff view, time lapse view, branch view, are just plain amazing and save a lot of time.

Both are available on numerous systems, so working on Mac, Linux or Windows is not a problem.

What you want to avoid, are VSS (Visual Source Safe) and CVS (Concurrent Versions System). There is no excuse for using this anymore. CVS is unusable seriously, and VSS has a tendency to corrupt it's database very easily (and is unusable over a high latency network).


Ideally, all documentation should be available to anyone without having to install any special software. What I recommend is to install a Wiki on the project intranet. Enable all the logs features, disable anonymous editing, and be sure that the content of the Wiki is backed-up with everything else. Here is what I recommend:

Media wiki is what is used on Wikipedia, so you can reasonably assume that the engine should not have scalability problems. I recommend Doku wiki because the syntax is cleaner, the handling of name-spaces is better, and the interface is not cluttered with buttons everywhere.

Both are definitively usable on large teams (60+ persons), even with large pages with lots of pictures. The choice is yours :)

Programmer's toolbox

  • Beyond Compare: Some people claim that Araxis merge is the best diff/merge tool ever made. It's probably true, but when you look at the price you can understand why. Beyond Compare fills the bill on most points, for a way more reasonable price time (ie: $30 vs $129 2)).
  • XnView: In the picture viewer category some are faster, or better looking than XnView, but few offer as many possibilities and support as many file formats. The killer feature of XnView is the batch convert. You can select a quantity of files and convert them to another format, while doing transformations (filtering, resizing, rotations, etc…). Very practical when you have a mass of graphic resources to convert from one format to another.
  • Visual Assist: If you are using Microsoft Visual Studio as main programming tool, you need Visual Assist. It's a bit expensive 3), but it is more that worth it's price. The amount of features packed in this tool is quite impressive. There are still bugs (the first thing I do when I install it is always to disable the replacement of . by →, because it nearly always get it wrong…), but it's a very good investment. I wish they made a version that work with a portable IDE, or at least get support for some Linux IDE.
  • Doxygen: For documenting code. It's free, available on most systems (Windows, Linux, Mac, even Atari and Solaris) and it “just work”. No need to pay for an expensive replacement.

Useful gadgets

There are plenty of small tools that makes life easier, here is my personal selection:

  • Rainlendar is a customizable desktop calendar, with alerts, todo lists, etc… it's free ((there is a pro version with groupware functionalities) and available both for Linux and Windows.
It's free for two machines, it's what I use at home
$269 for the pro version with the Three Way Merge feature - Prices were correct on the 2007/03/31
$149 with one year support and updates - Price from 2007/03/31
soft/tools.txt · Last modified: 2008/03/02 20:46 (external edit)