Peter Keating

Developer from the New Forest in the South of England.

Setting up the new Laptop


I was very lucky last week and Moov2 decided to upgrade my work laptop to a Lenovo running Windows 8.1. New laptop means having to download and install programs and tools that are used by the team everyday. I thought it would be handy for future employees and others with an interest in the tools used at Moov2 if I share the setup process.

Browsers

The best place to start is with the programs that give access to the world wide web. Commonly at Moov2 we provide solutions that are accessed through the browser. Delivering a consistent experience regardless of a user's browser is an important job for any web developer. When developing it's important to have access to all the mainstream browsers for testing, for Windows these include Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer (already installed on the laptop) and Opera. I've also installed Chrome Canary, which contains the newest features that will be making there way into Chrome stable.

Git

All source code for client projects and personal projects are hosted on Bitbucket or Github. In order to access and interact with these services Git is required. Make sure when running through the setup wizard that you leave "Checkout Windows-style, commit Unix-style line endings" checked to ensure Git converts line endings when checking out text files. Once Git is installed the next step is to generate an SSH key to allow your machine to authenticate with Bitbucket and Github. Once the SSH key has been generated it needs to be associated to Bitbucket and Github by logging into their websites and adding the key via the account settings.

Google Drive

While our source code is hosted on Bitbucket & Github we use Google Drive to transfer files that shouldn't be included in a project's source code for example design assets, project specifications or internal documentation. While Google Drive offers a web solution it is convenient to use the Windows client to give a seamless sharing experience and accessibility while offline.

Visual Studio

At Moov2 the majority of the solutions are developed to leverage the .NET platform. Whether it is bespoke solutions using frameworks like Nancy or projects that make use of a CMS like Orchard, the best IDE for .NET solutions is Visual Studio.

SQL Server Express

The majority of solutions developed at Moov2 handle storing and presenting data. That data needs to be stored and commonly this is done using SQL Server. Having SQL Server installed on a development machine isn't desirable due to it's size, instead Microsoft offers SQL Server Express. SQL Server Express contains a reduced feature set that is compatiable with all versions of SQL server and is ideal for development.

Note you must have a Microsoft account in order to download this product.

SQL Server Management Studio

SQL Server Management Studio provides an easy to use interface for interacting with SQL Server not only on your development machine but also on remote servers. To download SQL Server Management Studio you should use the SQL Server Express download link and then in the wizard select to download SQL Server Management Studio (instead of SQL Server Express, which is selected by default).

Similar to SQL Server Express, you must have a Microsoft account in order to download SQL Server Management Studio.

When installing through the wizard, on the "Installation Type" step, be sure to select to install using a pre-existing SQL Server installation and select SQL Express (which should have been installed before).

Node.js

While the majority of the projects at Moov2 leverage the .NET platform we use Node.js to assist with development. Primarily this is for front end technologies like CSS & JavaScript. Node.js comes with the Node Package Manager (NPM) giving instant access to a large collection of useful packages. Over the past year Grunt and Gulp have become important tools for assisting with development tasks, such as linting JavaScript primary tool, and also for handling automated builds. Both Grunt & Gulp offer a wide range of modern build tasks with minimal setup that have replaced our previous build tool and integrated seamlessly into our continuous integration process.

Ruby

At Moov2 Ruby is used for one thing and that's Sass. Sass makes it significantly easier to develop CSS by introducing features like importing, variables, functions and nesting. Ruby has been made easy to download and install on Windows with a handy installer executable. For better compatibility with older Ruby plugins it is recommended to use Ruby 1.9.3.

Sass

As mentioned above, the sole reason for Ruby is to give access to and use Sass. Sass can be installed via the command line, provided Ruby is installed, using the command below.

gem install sass

To verify that Sass has been successfully installed run sass -v, which should output the version number of Sass that was installed.

In future, it would be better to move towards using libsass for faster compilation and to remove the dependency on Ruby. This move makes sense as Node.js is already in use and LibSass can easily be integrated into Grunt / Gulp builds.

Atom / Sublime Text

When developing it is important to have a powerful text editor. Visual Studio is a powerful IDE with a very good code editor that continually improves, however I always tend to open a simpler text editor like Atom or Sublime Text when working on front end code like CSS or JavaScript or when doing small changes to a file. Having used both, Atom & Sublime are both excellent text editors with a wide range of different packages, themes and settings to help tailor the editor to your needs.

Nowadays Atom is my preferred editor, offering good integration wit Git and a more intuitive interface for installing themes & packages and managing settings. The only downside I would say is Sublime launches quicker and seems to do a better job when working with larger files.

Ant

At Moov2 we've put a lot of effort into making sure our projects reap the benefits of continuous integration with automated builds & deployments. Our tool for handling automated builds for some time was Ant. While we are gravitating towards using tools like Grunt & Gulp for automated builds, we still maintain a lot of projects that use Ant.

To install Ant, firstly download the zip of the latest version from the Ant website. Once downloaded, unzip the download into a folder of your choice (for note, mine is C:/ant/apache-ant-1.9.4). Last step is to add the path to the bin directory to our PATH environment variable.

To check that Ant is ready to use run ant -version in the command line. You may find the command doesn't run if you don't have Java installed. Instead of installing the standard Java runtime you need to installed to Java Development Kit (JDK). Once installed, Ant should be able to run the ant -version command successfully. If you are seeing the message below in the response then you need to configure a couple of environment variables.

Unable to locate tools.jar. Expected to find it in C:\Program Files\Java\...

Firstly add the bin ...directory for the JDK (likely found in C:\Program Files\Java\) to the PATH environment variable. Then create a JAVA_HOME environment variable that points to the JDK directory (note, this is the JDK root directory not the bin directory).

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