Indispensable tools for one Flash Developer on Windows

  1. Big ass Laptop with 1920px screen and two hard drives – semi mobile is necessary – at some point you are going for photoshoots, working at client locations, or presenting in a place where there is no presentation equipment (and you were promised there was). Why two hardrives? swap and scratch drive being a physically separate drive increases performance in video and photoshop. I currently use a Dell Studio 17, as it fits this description and is highly customizable. has Firewire and 5 USB and HDMI, but missing an esata port, but that can be compensated throught the Express card slot.
  2. Adobe Master Collection – for the price it is a great deal, you never have to worry about that $200 you saved when you really need some part of the adobe/macromedia toolchain. Make sure to keep Adobe CS2 around if for nothing else than the great multitrack sound editor that was (is)  audition
  3. XML notepad (free) – if you are doing flash, you will have to access and write large XML texts. This Tree-view utility is intuitive and removes the possibility of tag closure and other syntax errors,
  4. Notepad++ (free) – the best multipurpose text editor for windows (so far that I have found). It keeps the Mac envy of e-text editor to a minimum
  5. 3D studio MAX – necessary evil, liberating once you get the hang of it, and necessary if you sub out your 3D work, then need to tweek some renders at the 11th hour.
  6. As many browsers as possible – you have to virtualize to test on ie6 (fortunately I stick to Flash so this is not a big issue) but there are quirks. Keep at least a webkit browser, a version of IE, and a Mozilla Browser handy. I use Chrome, FF, and IE
  7. Flash Video Encoder – still the better batch program, though it doesnt do mp4 H.264 until CS4
  8. Magic DVD ripper – great for when clients supply video DVDs they want you to drop into the flash project (and they always do)
  9. VLC media player – when dealing with infeed video from many sources, clients manage to find a huge variety of codecs. I have not seen a codec VLC can’t play (well i have, but it doesn’t feel like it), and it does do a good subset of codec conversions. Especially handy if you have infeeds of 1080i or p video from clients and need to do quick conversions
  10. Filezilla (free) – The best FTP client I have used so far. I don’t see the need to lok for another
  11. Teracopy (version 1.5, free) – I use this for all backups – it is fast, has good error recovery and has the magically, obvious -in-hind-sight ability to “replace only older files” allowing a quick backup of project directories where maybe 5 files out of 5GB of files have been changed.
  12. SWFTools – good command line and batch program for handy actions like PDF to SWF or PNG to SWF. it does have some limitations, but can be very handy when the alternative is tedious conversion
  13. SpaceMonger – when the HDDs start getting full, it is nice to have a ‘drive crawler’ that graphically displays big files as big, the realestate of your HDD is laid out like a city and you immediately see the space hogs. nice.
  14. TortoiseSVN – most flash libraries are in SVN repositories, and this handy tool empowers your right-click to access them.
  15. Image Rescue (free from manufacturer if you look around online) – great for revoery of CF and SD card files. Client (and me) often accidentally wipe a card thinking the images have been downloaded. This will ressurrect them if they have not been overwritten.
  16. ESET antivirus. With a dev machine, I don’t want a big “Total Safety System” type of suite using up my CPU and scanning every file I change. ESET can be set up to be very fast and lean and unnoticable, just like AV should be.

Any suggestions? I would love to hear them!


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