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What’s in Your Toolkit?

    Wyatt Barnett

    After suffering through an inordinate number of “Whats in Your Wallet” commercials, I decided to share a few key components of my toolkit. No they do not involve faries, princesses, dragons or wierd looking centaur things. Anyhow, at the top of my chest of tools is:

    • Fiddler: when dealing with modern applications with significant amounts of remote requests (aka AJAX) having a tool that can enumerate and expose these is oftentimes key to tell a developer why some component is failing. Some of my co-workers think it is magic, but I just call it Fiddler. It is one of the three reasons I ever open Internet Explorer these days (other two being SharePoint and our time sheets).
    • m0n0wall: QA is an oft-overlooked, but crucial component of delivering solid, stable applications. m0n0wall is a BSD-based firewall/router/edge device that lets one create relatively complex networks with good front-end security. External stakeholders can view the applications as they live, while external developers can gain secured access to the boxes using PPPTP VPNs.
    • Virtual Server: There is a lot of hype, and many outstanding questions, surrounding virtualization in production. But insofar as development goes, virtualization is a godsend. Just the ability to backup and restore the entire state of a machine by a simple copy-paste operations—as opposed to using Ghost or tweaking things by hand—can save days of your professional life.
    • SecretServer: so you have a mess of development networks, and you have a mess of virtual servers, leaving you with a mess of passwords. Now, you can have one rather insecure spreadsheet containing this information. Or you can use this wonderful product to store all of these things in a secure, centralized and accessible store.
    • NtBackup: Having data of any sort without having backup is about as good as not having data at all. While I will not claim that the builtin Windows backup utilities are the be-all, end-all of backup solutions, they are reasonably effective and quite available. Now the actual backup is kind of immaterial unless it is shipped offsite somehow which leads us to . . .
    • FTP.exe: When used with the –s switch to load a command file, this utility will let you upload just about anything to a remote server to complete the backup operation.

    So, what is in your toolkit that should be in mine?