jlopez's blog

A software package a day: DownThemAll!

Another of my Firefox plug-ins, DownThemAll! does exactly that: it downloads all the files linked to by a page. This isn’t something I use often, but when you find a site where you need all of the contents it is a handy tool to click once and have them queued up and delivered. Some recent examples were visiting a page of a musician who provides audio files for their music for free (using the Creative Commons license) and a support page where a monthly newsletter was issued as a PDF.

A software package a day: Greasemonkey

Another of my favorite Firefox add-ins is Greasemonkey. Requiring a bit of knowledge of JavaScript to even get started with this isn’t a tool for everyone. However, if you have some knowledge of JavaScript and how web pages are represented in a browser (the DOM, or Document Object Model), then this tool can do things that would otherwise require a full blown extension.

A software package a day: Prism

If you use a lot of web applications you may find that some of the best don’t have strong support for the “back” button and other browser chrome. They are usable, but all that extra user interface is actually “in the way”. Prism provides a way to run such applications while leaving the browser chrome behind. This creates a cleaner presentation and avoids accidental “back” button mishaps.

A software package a day: LLBLGen

LLBLGen is a Object Relation Mapper, or ORM. We started using it long before LINQ to SQL was available (or even discussed) and it have provided years of reliable data access with type safety that ADO.NET doesn’t provide inherently.

A software package a day: NoScript

If I had to decided upon one add-on for Firefox, NoScript would be the one I would recommend. It isn’t that it adds a lot of functionality; it disables a lot of functionality be default. Of course, that is the point.

A software package a day: BaseCamp

In an earlier post I mentioned that I use MindJet MindManager to plan small projects, or small parts of larger projects. For larger projects, or for projects that require collaboration with stakeholders that are geographically  separated, I tend to reach for BaseCamp.

A software package a day: SQL Pretty Printer

SQL Pretty Printer is another of those “micro” utilities that I love. If you ever have to work with “generated” SQL you know that it is rarely formatted in a useful way. Even if the SQL was hand coded, often I find the longer blocks tend to become a solid mass rather than a rationally formatted query. Enter SQL Pretty Printer. Just cut and paste a query into the program and press F2 and you now have a well formatted query that can be read without pain.

A software package a day: Firefox as development tool

Developing web based software can be a challenge, but it can be a lot easier with the right tools. With Firefox and a few plug-ins you have some excellent tools for a grand total price of zero. Over time I accumulated quite a few plug-ins that I feel make a web developer more productive. Here is my current inventory specifically for web development: Fiddler, Firebug, HTML Validator and the Web Developer. Beyond these I use Adblock Plus, Delicious Bookmarks, DownThemAll!, Greasemonkey, NoScript and Prism for various non-development tasks.

Vista selecting wrong folder view

One of the most annoying “features” of Microsoft Vista is the attempt they made at detecting what type of content a folder has and selecting an appropriate view. There is nothing wrong with the idea itself and the detection usually works. Like most attempts at making the computer smarter than the user though, there is no easy way to correct a view once Vista decides it is full of images because you saved a few pictures along with the other content. What makes this infuriating are two sub-features.

A software package a day: Mindjet MindManager

Developing complex software means keeping track of a lot of details. For larger projects that require a lot of communication I like to use BaseCamp although recently I am experimenting with Storm (a set of Drupal modules). Before using any of these tools I find it useful to do some brainstorming. For that, I prefer some type of mind mapping tool.


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