Software Tools I Use and Recommend

Inspired by Scott Hanselman’s list, I have created my own list of tools I use frequently. What I have found interesting about software choices is that all of us seem to have our own preference. Look no further than the “war” between Vim and Emacs. At the end of the day it is about productivity, you should use the tools that make you most productive. I am interested in your comments and alternatives for listed software.


  • FocusWriter is my goto tool for distraction free writing.
  • Notepad++ for code and text editing. I always have Notepadd++ open and use it to take notes. I can end up with over 20 tabs open each with notes.
  • Typora (added Nov 2016) is fast becoming my favourite distraction free writing tool. Typora understands and displays Markdown well. This makes is it great for blog posts.


I write SQL for a living so I have a keen interest in Open Source SQL editors. I switch regularly between the three tools. All there are good SQL clients. This is one of those situations where you should go with your preference.

  • DBeaver can connect to most databases and some NoSQL databases via JDBC. Best looking of three.
  • SQL Workbench/J can connect to any database that has a JDBC driver. Well documented and also has command line client which I want use one day.
  • SQuirreL SQL Client is probably the oldest currently developed SQL clients.
  • HeidiSQL is a Windows fronted for MySQL/MariaDB, PostgresSQL and SQL Server that also runs fine on Linux on Wine. This is the best open source front-end for MariaDB.


  • Greenshot for screenshots. Features I like most are ability to annotate screenshot, copy to clip board and paste in email.
  • Paint.NET for occasionl image diting.
  • Inkscape for drawing and diagrams. I don’t really draw but often put together diagrams using components from cpenclipart.

File Management

  • Free Commander’s two pane layout is something I cannot work without. This is highly customizable file explorer, you can priview files by clicking F3 then ESC to close popup window. You can connect to FTP locations and browse archives as if they are normal files. I have used this software for over five years but keep finding new ways of doing things.

  • FireFTP, a Firefox add-on which eliminates the need for stand alone SFTP client.


MobaXterm as SSH client and a for a Linux terminal on Windows. It is the easiest way to install to have a functional Cygwin installation on your Windows computer.

Web and Server

Hugo is what I am using to build this site

Drupal is the most flexible Open Source CMS. Just don’t use it for creating a blog, it is overkill unless developing on Drupal is your day job.

Processwire is another OSS CMS that I enjoy. As a part time developer the amount of underlying technology one has to understand to maintain a Drupal site is becoming a head ache. Processwire is closer to a traditional PHP application meant for shared hosts.

Webmin with the fantastic Bootstrap based authentic theme to remotely manage my VPS servers.

BI and Data Analysis

ART – Web Reporting I like this tool so much I always have run Apache Tomcat running on my work desktop so I use ART. ART’s biggest draw for me is the ability to create a report or chart with just a SQL statement. BI is about the data and ART helps me get to the data most efficiently of all the BI applications I have used.

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