Programming On a Windows PC

During the past two weeks I have been working weeknights and weekends on a simple AngularJS side-project. (I wrote more about that project here if you are interested).

I’ve been writing all the code on my Windows PC.

This has been quite a change. I’m used to developing on the Mac operating system (a huge thank you to the CEO of the company I work at for recently getting the development team new computers), and over the past 6 months I have done nearly all my programming on a Mac. Yet, when I am at home and working on a project I am left with my trusty 2012 Acer PC running Windows.

After contemplating a complete removal of Windows OS and installing Linux I decided to tough it out and spend some time re-configuring my personal laptop as a development environment.

House cleaning

The first thing I did was remove garbage bloatware. I found a great site called Should I Remove It? which helped me decide what software was going to stay and what software had to go.

The first time I opened up the “Uninstall or change program” window on Windows I was overwhelmed. After browsing Should I Remove It, and doing a bit of googling I ended up  removing a few dozen programs.

Command line

Coming from a Mac operating system I am familiar with the Mac, and even Linux shell. Trying to use those same commands in the Windows PowerShell became so annoying that I decided to install Cygwin.

Rather than adapt to Windows, I brought Linux into the equation. Cygwin provides nearly all the functionality of a Linux terminal to a Windows machine. This does not mean Cygwin transforms your Windows computer into a Linux machine, but it does enough to keep you sane.

The Cygwin website says it best, “Cygwin is not a way to magically make native Windows apps aware of UNIX®”.

Git, Node, Bower…

Next came the installation of Git. Followed by Node.js. Finished off with Bower for good measure.

I installed Node for the first time on this computer specifically to install Bower. I have never worked with Node, and all I know about it comes from reading occasional posts that grace the front page of Hacker News.

I know enough about Node to understand that it is powerful and important. Before installing Bower I went to NodeSchool and completed a few courses. I would suggest doing the same if you blindly install it like I did.

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Finally I installed Bower which poses the question;

Why learn the in's and out's of package control when you can simply install Bower and have every dependency installed for you?!?

Yeah, terrible mindset, I know. But seriously, Bower makes it so seamless and easy to start building a new application. Learning and managing my own packages is something on the future checklist, in the meantime, Bower to the rescue.

Wamp and Sublime

Two more software installations were necessary before I could start working on my Angular project. A local server, and a great text editor.

I have used Wamp for years. I used Wamp when I was 14 and didn’t know what Javascript was. Wamp is solid, and provides the perfect foundation to start developing locally.

At work I have been using Panic Coda 3 for the past few months. Coda is great. Publishing in Coda takes away the necessity of an FTP, and the preview mode has been a time saver every single day. But for developing locally and on a Windows machine Coda went out the window.

I installed Sublime Text 3, changed a few small settings and got to work.

Time to write code

Setting up my environment to program on a Windows PC was relatively easy. Which reminds me, now is about the time I should get back to writing some code!


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5 thoughts on “Programming On a Windows PC

  1. If you like cygwin, but want something with a more terminal like experience check out cmder

    Additionally if you like Sublime and its extensibility but don’t want to fork over $60 check out Atom (developed by the folks at Github)

    1. Thanks for the suggestion Ryan. A few other people have suggested cmder as well – I wish I had known about it before I installed Cygwin! I used Atom in the past (when it was still in beta), and found it to be a little sluggish… Did those problems go away with the 1.0 release?

    1. The first thing I saw on the Babun website was, “Integrated oh-my-zsh”. That sounds like a match made in heaven. The Linux computer I occasionally use at work has oh-my-zsh installed on it. Thank you for the suggestion!

      1. Atom 1.0 is very stable and the performance has improved dramatically. As for oh my zsh, take a look at prezto which is similar but I think less bloated and more responsive.

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