Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Setting up my new Web Development Machine

For more immediate and tiny updates on web development and photography follow me on Twitter @VishalRJoshi

I just recently got a new laptop, it looks awesome, is blazing fast and from now on I will spend at least few hours every evening with it.  I have always wanted to upgrade but Microsoft keeps getting me powerful work laptops I hardly ever came out of the spell.  But recently stars aligned and that provoked me to get a personal laptop:

1. I hate the looks of Lenovo W500 which is what I have at work

2. I have software licenses for photography and other software which feel weird to register from work machine

3. The screen resolution on Lenovo’s is not as good as I would like

4. Work laptop makes me work more and play less, I really do need a clean separation J

Well anyways I got my laptop this weekend. As I would primarily use this for Web Development and Photography I thought I would write down a post which would be a nice walk down the memory lane for me in the future and perhaps help someone now.


Intel Core i5 ~ 2.5GHz, 4GB RAM, 500GB with 7200 RPM HD and 1680 x 1050 high quality screen.

I was hoping to get i7 processor but most reviews and friends said that it heats up on a laptop and does not provide as much value. I was also going to go with 8GB RAM but a friend of mine got his 8GB RAM cheaper online than with the laptop. Finally I was going to buy SSD Hard Disk but could not justify the cost to myself in the mirror.

OS & Office

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 (Paid)

I think Win 7 Professional would do just fine as I am not intending to use bit locker or 35 languages which seems to be the only difference between Professional and Ultimate. Anyways, I think I am spoilt, it just feels good when Windows starts and the screen says Ultimate J

Office Professional 2010 (Paid)

Again Office Home & Business would do just fine but I had got a copy of Office Pro 2010 which was waiting for my new laptop to arrive J


I configured Outlook with my Live.com, Gmail.com and Hotmal.com email ids. The Hotmail connector for Outlook actually comes down automatically during the configuration and the thing sets up like a charm.

Web Development (Free)

As any other developer I am inclined to download a bunch of stuff just in case I need it but this time I have decided to keep the list of installed software to bare essentials and going with the minimalistic attitude. Also in support of high productivity I got Web PI from Microsoft.com/Web and customized as following:

Tools (Free)


Framework (Free)


Database (Free)


Server (Free)


Apart from the above listed I also took IIS6 Metabase compatibility for Visual Studio à IIS interactions (yeah I know we need to remove the dependency on it J), some basic logging features, IIS Management Console, Remote Management for my hosted sites, Windows & Basic Authentication.

I was inclined to enable a bunch of modules but I thought I will enable them when I need them and try to stay as bare minimum as possible.

Honestly, after I kicked off Web PI, there was one restart for .NET 4 framework install and everything went super smooth. Unfortunately my SQL Server Express installation failed and I had to go and install it manually from MSDN.

In anycase, I do not mind installing SQL Server 2008 R2 Express manually as it allows me to configure mixed mode authentication and provide sa password, which I sometimes like to use with my connectionStrings.

I do not exactly remember but I do think that the SQL Server 2008 Management studio also required a restart of the machine but other than that it did go pretty smooth.

Honestly, getting a fully functional Web Development box was never that easy before Web PI so I am really happy that our team was able to pull together this highly impactful product and the more I see it in use on day to day basis within Microsoft, it makes me feel even better about the impact it can have. Most certainly there are pros and cons but overall I think it is a good thing J

Visual Studio Themes (Free)

First thing is to get VS customized to get a darker and a nicer theme. I like Selenitic by Tim Thomas but you can find several others at http://studiostyl.es/ to suit your needs.

If you are using VWD Express 2010 which I use on my machine then to set the Theme you have to go to following location on Tools à Options (make sure you set the settings file by using the “Use team settings file” check box.


Typically I would go to the “Extensions Manager” in “Tools” menu and get few power tools but since VWD Express does not have all extensibility hooks not many of the power tools are really available.

NuPack (Free)

Next I was super inclined to get NuPack from Codeplex as I know the packages in there are growing like crazy but I prevented myself from going there just yet as there were bunch of other things to get in place and again, using the policy of getting something only if I need it.

7Zip (Free)

Several times during conversation at work 7Zip comes up as the possible direction we want to take to save download times across many of Microsoft technologies. In general I think it is an innovative community project which is worth your attention. It also has easy file extensions associations in Tools à Options within 7 Zip File Manager and you can download it from http://www.7-zip.org/

Reflector (Free)

They say it for a reason that every .NET developer should have reflector, you can get that for free at http://reflector.red-gate.com/download.aspx. Unfortunately, if you are using any Express versions of Visual Studio like VWD Express 2010 then you won’t be able to use the Reflector Add In for debugging but even without that Reflector is pretty useful in itself.

Resharper (Free)

Again there is a reason why they make banners “Can’t Code without Resharper” but oh well I am using VWD Express and the Add-Ins are not allowed with it so unfortunately no Resharper for me. Btw you can download it from http://www.jetbrains.com/resharper/download/ for Free if you are working on an OSS project or for $199 if you are getting it for personal use.

FireFox & Firebug (Free)

I am eagerly looking forward to use these and I am sure most people do as well.

Windows Live Writer (Free)

Well this blog would not have happened as easily as it has without Live Writer. If you plan to write you have to try this software for sure. Download it from Windows Live Essentials download center.

TweetDeck (Free)

Next was to get into the Social community and install TweetDeck and connect all of my Linked In, Facebook, Four Square as well Twitter accounts on it. This will provide some reasonable entertainment for me.

EverNote (Free)

I use Evernote all the time to sync up all types of my work items, To Dos from home, shopping list etc etc and it keeps it all synced up.  This is one of the best tools ever if you have not used it yet.  Get it from http://www.evernote.com/

LightRoom (Paid)

Finally, it comes down to having a great machine and a great photo management tool. My cousin just got me a copy of Light room and I got it all installed and ready on the machine. You can get Lightroom 3 for 30 day trial for Free if you have never used it from Adobe site.

With all that said even with keeping stuff simple and minimal I landed up installing quite a bit of software on my machine. Interesting piece is that other than the Hardware, OS, Office & Lightroom everything else on my machine is Free software. I intend not to add a lot more to my machine but if I do I will most likely update this post too. In the meantime I hope you find this at least minimally useful/interesting.