How can I become a really effective web developer using Windows?
March 11, 2008 9:45 PM   Subscribe

What are some tips/resources for someone very familiar with web development on mostly Mac/Linux who now needs to do web development on Windows?

I'm looking for tips on applications, techniques, useful websites. This really is web development, not design, so I'm more interested in development tools, resources/books on Microsoft technologies and how they work. etc.
posted by Deathalicious to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Cygwin is a life saver. It's a very unix-like environment that sits on top of Windows, allowing you to build the great majority of unix software from source (and it comes with the usual array of GNU utilities and such). If you're natively a unix/MacOS command line user, you'll wonder how you lived without it.
posted by toxic at 10:00 PM on March 11, 2008

Seconding cygwin. Also, I used Gvim before I switched over to *nix full time.

If you're into the IDE thing, I guess Eclipse and NetBeans are worth checking out, too.
posted by cdmwebs at 10:06 PM on March 11, 2008

Get an MSDN premiere subscription -- you get a license to use almost every product MS makes for development purposes.
posted by metaldark at 10:26 PM on March 11, 2008

Strawberry Perl is open-source Perl for Windows - much nicer than ActiveState since you can use normal CPAN.
posted by nicwolff at 10:34 PM on March 11, 2008

Cygwin will get you a long way, but sometimes you need a full on linux server. The way I do this is run a Centos 5 image on VMWare Server, and then make a Samba share. Then you can use your Windows IDE's and TortoiseSVN but still test on a real linux server.
posted by bertrandom at 12:50 AM on March 12, 2008

Best answer: I get the impression you're not looking for Unix-y tools, but rather looking to use ASP.NET, SQL Server, IIS, right?

If so, I'd recommend learning C#, since that's the .NET reference language. Jesse Liberty's C# books (Learning C#, Programming C#) published by O'Reilly, were very helpful to me. You can probably skip right to the latter if you have any OO programming experience.

I'd also recommend that you use Windows Server 2003 for your development platform, rather than Windows XP or Vista. If you're (understandably) uncomfortable using this as your primary computing environment, you can run it nicely in a VM. You'll need Windows Server 2003 to play with IIS 6, which is the current production-level version of IIS.

SQL Server 2008 will be out soon, but 2005 is what people'll be using for quite a while. There's a developers' version of 2005, I believe. Working with this is fairly simple, so you might not need any additional resources to get started here.

Most developers use Visual Studio for .NET development, so I'd recommend that as well, just because you'll find more resources on how that works. The C# books mentioned above provide an introduction to ASP.NET development, but the O'Reilly Programming ASP.NET book was also helpful to me.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:13 AM on March 12, 2008

Response by poster: Yeah, sorry I wasn't clear enough. I am not looking on tips on how to use Unix-y things on a Windows machine. I cannot. I am looking for ways to adjust to using Microsoft tools. Thanks.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:25 AM on March 12, 2008

Set Notepad++ as the default program to open when you click on view source in the browser.

Otherthan that play around with Visual Studio 2005 with online sample progs.
posted by WizKid at 6:55 AM on March 12, 2008

I'm a long-time Machead, but I've recently been doing development in C#. Here are a few thoughts:

- Use Parallels or VMWare, so that the Mac is your native environment for your "basic tasks" (email, web, etc.), and you can run the Windows tools only when you need them. On my Macbook, I split 2G RAM between Mac and Windows when I'm working in that environment, and I can run IIS + SQL Server no sweat.

- Vistual Studio is really a great IDE for .NET. Don't listen to anyone who tells you some roundabout way to do your .NET coding in BBEdit, Textmate, or some other Mac app.

- Launchy is a great piece of open-source software that replicates the Spotlight/Quicksilver functionality of fast keystroke-based launching. I can't stand the StartMenu, so finding this was a godsend.
posted by mkultra at 7:35 AM on March 12, 2008

Best answer: Microsoft Visual Web Developer Express 2008 is free (as in beer, not in speech) as is SQL Server 2005 Express. They are all you need to get going on ASP.NET development.

To do the learning part, you'll need: (specifically the getting started section)
more in-depth documentation can be found at (microsoft developer network) and then you can move on to and .

Another good way to learn is to setup a .NET powered blog and learn to tweak it.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:05 AM on March 12, 2008

Response by poster: Use Parallels or VMWare

Yeah, I must repeat: I will be working on a PC Windows machine and using Windows tools. Launchy sounds interesting though.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:39 AM on March 12, 2008

Seconding The Code Project. MSDN is fine for understanding what properties are available to what classes and such, but if you're looking for practical answers to "How do I do X in .NET?", it's the best resource out there, IMO.
posted by mkultra at 1:48 PM on March 12, 2008

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