Development Tools

Depending on the nature of your company you may or may not need development software in-house. If you do, here are some quick thoughts on picking out the right development environment.

First, a disclaimer, I am thoroughly a Microsoft guy. This is because I find they have a complete solution available, whereas many alternative packages require me to do a little combination work. For me, product development speed is oftentimes more important than price or occasionally even feature set.

Microsoft Options:

Microsoft’s basic development environment is Visual Studio, currently in its 2010 edition. You can download Express Editions of this software for free from Microsoft. These allow for designing in VB.NET, C#.NET, ASP.NET, Silverlight, etc. They lack some corporate and enterprise features but may be suitable for some small shops or lone wolf companies. Microsoft has the Standard and Professional editions for those who require additional features.

Other Options:

Besides Microsoft, other popular development environments include Sun Microsystem’s Java (the language) with Eclipse (the IDE[1]).

Adobe also offers a complete set of development tools aimed at the web[2] including DreamWeaver (general website design), Flash (interactive website design), ColdFusion (database/application website design), etc.

The most popular open source alternative is PHP (for web-based development) and probably C or C++ for most other forms of development. There is an open source .NET implementation by Novell known as Mono.  Other open source language options include Ruby[3] and Python[4].

Systems Administration Options:

On the systems administration side you will likely be writing some batch files, VBScript or CScript’s, and also PowerShell. PowerShell is the most recent technology from Microsoft[5] but extremely difficult to master.

Legacy Code:

If you are working with an already established network it is likely that you will be dealing with one or more forms of legacy code – and the languages from which this code could come are numerous…in that case, Google is your best friend!

Must-Have Resources:

If there is only one site you know of besides Google when it comes to learning and growing in your development abilities that should be stackoverflow. It is a community of developers that assist each other by answering questions. You receive quick and detailed responses from a very helpful community and there is a huge knowledgebase of material available on almost every programming topic imaginable. Bookmark that site and visit regularly!

  1. [1]Integrated Development Environment.
  2. [2]Mainly via acquisition of Macromedia.
  3. [3]Ruby gained a lot of traction with its “on Rails” framework which significantly expedited development and similar modalities are now being adapted by other languages.
  4. [4]Best known for its utilization by Google.
  5. [5]I usually like Microsoft innovations…but I’m not a fan of this one, it isn’t intuitive!

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