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Jamie Thomson

This is the blog of Jamie Thomson, a data mangler in London working for Dunnhumby

New job, new computer, new software installs

Three days ago I started a new job and put a shout out on Twitter looking for suggestions as to what software bits-n-pieces I as a SQL Server developer should install.


I got some great replies (click here to see them all) and here is the list of all “stuff” that I then installed (N.B. SQL Server and Visual Studio came pre-installed):

A lot of those aren’t strictly speaking SQL Server related but, for me, they’re still invaluable.

Do you have a similar list? Don’t be afraid to share ‘em and put a link below! And let me know if you think I’ve missed anything important.


Published Thursday, March 7, 2013 10:35 AM by jamiet
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Mark Stacey said:

My Other 2 are 7zip ( and PowerISO (less necessary with Windows 8)

March 7, 2013 4:48 AM

Michal Poziemski said:

Oracle VirtualBox

March 7, 2013 5:53 AM

Chris Nelson said:

Scott Hanselman's Developer Ultimate List and Buck Woody's recent posts on setting up a Data Lab are a good place to start.

7zip and Notepad++ are great choices. For editors you may want a more PowerShell specific editor, there's lots of choices. If you do use Notepad++, you'll have to tweak it's PS code word color scheme. For exploring delimited data, nothing beats CSVed.  Also you may need something for xml and super huge text files.

I'm assuming you know C# and can drive Visual Studio. I'd also load Python and IronPython. It's easy to quickly write text data munging/analysis tools in Python before building systems in SQL. It fills the gap between PS, SQL and C#. Get the Python for Data Analysis book from ORA.

I'd use VMware Player or Workstation instead VirtualBox if you aren't just stuck with HyperV.  I'm still partial to Windows 7 over Windows 8, but Server 2012 is starting to be fun. Buck Woody likes Cygwin, but I've had issues loading and maintaining it on Windows. If you need to spin up Linux for some reason, I prefer Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. There's some interesting. powerful OSS data tools out there worth exploring.

See if your new employer has MSDN/Technet available or hopefully you pay for it already.

March 7, 2013 6:37 AM

Peter Schott said:

If you're presenting, shouldn't ZoomIt be on this list somewhere?

March 7, 2013 8:16 AM

jamiet said:


This is just the desktop that I've been given at work. I use my own gear for presentations.

March 7, 2013 8:20 AM

AlexK said:

IMO everyone should have git or at the very least Subversion.

March 7, 2013 9:11 AM

Geoff said:

I'm surprised not to see a clipboard manager on your list: I use Ditto, and it makes all coding (especially SQL-type work) much easier, and (bonus) includes the ability to clear-text-paste, similar to PureText:

March 7, 2013 9:13 AM

jamiet said:

Hi Alex, The company I'm working for doesn't use either. Besides, this blog post is ostensibly about utility tools rather than centralized services (probably only Yammer & SkyDrive from the list above fall into the latter category).

March 7, 2013 9:15 AM

jamiet said:

Hi Geoff,

I've never really gone in for multiple clipboards (altho I do like SnagIt's ability to go back through past "snags"). Your comment might have given me the nudge I need to try one tho. Downloading ditto now.


March 7, 2013 9:20 AM

csm said:

I would add some others:

- xplorer2 ( It's a file manager much more powerful than the standar Window's Explorer Windows. There's also a free version:

- DropBox, SkyDrive o somethin similar to save and access important files

- keepass ( to store sensitive information

- picpick ( for screen capture & editting image

- swift to-do list ( to save & find things in our TODO list

- qure analyzer ( to analyse and compare SQL trace files

March 7, 2013 10:10 AM

Peter Schott said:

Now if I could just get the Productivity Power Tools working in the VS Shell versions. I miss those tab enhancements.

March 7, 2013 10:12 AM

John Paul Cook said:


Nitro PDF Reader to embed your signature in a PDF (prevents printing, signing, and scanning), annotate PDF documents, and print to PDF from applications

Red Gate SQL Search

March 7, 2013 10:49 AM

CB said:

Must have SQL Sentry Plan Explorer (wish I had PRO version)

+1 for WinMerge

Have to agree with Buck Woody on OneNote

Sounds like you already have most everything :)

March 7, 2013 11:37 AM

Geoff said:

"Multiple clipboards": You might find it easier thinking of it as an automated clipboard history manager. For example, if I have several pieces of code I'm pulling out and moving around, it's just a matter of cutting each one without having to worry about where it's going.  Then, pasting each into its new home is as simple as

ctrl-alt-v, 3  

(where '3' is the history index).

Also nice: typing in text, e.g. a field name, shows all past clipboard items that include that text, depending on how much history you tell it to remember.

March 7, 2013 11:49 AM

Gabriel Rodriguez said:

The very first thing I install when I reformat or get a new computer, is voidtool's Everything. Extremely fast and lightweight file finder. Puts Bing desktop, Google desktop or any other file finding software to shame.

I honestly don't know how Microsoft has not acquired this, but I'm kind of glad it hasn't.

Give it a shot,

March 7, 2013 12:04 PM

Bruce said:

I would add: DropBox and FileZilla

March 7, 2013 3:20 PM

KKline said:

Great list, Jamie!  

I also have on my list Camtasia, Evernote, FileZilla, Skype, Chrome, 7-Zip, Picassa, and some meeting apps: GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, JoinMeNow, Linq.

I also use HootSuire and MetroTwit as my Twitter clients, swapping between them for specific needs.  HootSuite is for scheduling posts while MetroTwit is for live conversations.

March 8, 2013 8:44 AM

Tom Stagg said:

OLAP PivotTable Extensions are pretty helpful for OLAP-Excel work:

March 8, 2013 10:52 AM

Mike said:

Lots of toys from sysinternals - one of my favorites is Desktop:  Especially useful if you like lots of screen real estate :)

March 8, 2013 11:22 AM

Eric said:

Notepad 2 x64... for those times you need to manually work with really really big text files.

March 8, 2013 11:56 AM

Eric said:

Oh... and Google/Open Refine

March 8, 2013 12:32 PM

John Paul Cook said:

Many of these tools are available as portable apps. I really don't have an excessive number of applications installed because so many of them are portable apps. WinMerge, Notepad++, FileZilla, 7-Zip, Orca, InfraRecorder are just a few of the many portable apps you can find. Don't install something unless there isn't any other choice!

March 8, 2013 8:12 PM

John Doe said:

RedGate SQL Compare and SQL Data Compare

April 24, 2013 12:03 PM

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