Setting Up Your Windows For Programming / Coding (web development)
One of the most important and necessary things to do as a developer is setting up your machine. Though this might seem easy especially on Operating Systems such as MacOs and Linux, it mostly hard and a headache to do on a windows machine. With a little experience over the years, I find windows machines a hell to go with as far as development is concerned. If you ask for my recommendations, I’d suggest you go in for a Unix based box. But I know a lot out there prefer to use windows and that’s not a problem because today am going to be teaching you how to set up your windows machine for development. This tutorial is going to be as basic and self explanatory as possible. So my noobs out there don’t worry, I encourage you not to panic but rather grab a cup of coffee and get ready to follow along smoothly.
Before I move straight into the main tutorials, I’d first like to explain some really important concepts which is going to answer the questions to why we are setting up our machines the way this tutorial is going to be teaching. Also this tutorial is going to cover the following:
- Terminal with a suitable package manager
- Text editor with suitable extensions
- A version control system (VCS), Git
From experience, I can tell that about 90% of learners who begin their way into the development world often know nothing about the terminal and often get confused when anything about it is mentioned. What is the terminal? one may ask. The terminal is actually an interface where instructions known as commands could be given to the computer to carry out. Unlike the normal GUI (Graphical User Interface) where the mouse is used to click buttons and other graphical elements in order to issue commands, we have another interface called the CLI (short for Command-Line Interface) of which the terminal happens to fall under, and it is through the terminal that commands are written to give out a task. Let us take for instance, a shutdown operation. Using the normal way, a user would click a few buttons in order to achieve that. That same task (shutdown) could be carried out with the terminal but within a short amount of time. Since this tutorials is actually not dedicated to the terminal, we’ll not go deep into it.But below is just a glance of what a linux terminal looks like.
Windows terminals have proven to be insufficient as it is very inefficient and slow in accomplishing development task. But in recent times, developers have contributed to developing terminal tools to aid windows developers complete their development task with ease. So lets get straight into it. We’ll not be using windows’ default terminal (command prompt).
We’ll need to install Cmder. Cmder is a software package created out of pure frustration over the absence of nice and efficient console emulators on Windows. It is based on amazing software, and spiced up with the Monokai color scheme and a custom prompt layout, looking sexy from the start. Follow the instructions below to install Cmder.
1. Go to this link -> https://cmder.net/ and download cmder
N.B : There are two options to download from namely the Mini and Full. If you choose the Mini, you would have limited features and would have to install git with cmder manually(don’t worry, will show you how very soon). But if you choose the full setup with git, then you don’t need to install git again. In this case it is recommeded to go in for the full version.
2. Wait for it to finish downloading,Run the setup and voila it’s installed
2. Package Manager
A package manager is a command-line tool that is used to install softwares (termed packages) onto your local machine. Unlike most windows users who have to go through the hustle of getting the software’s installation setup and then run in order to install, package managers just allow you to run a single command in the terminal, and afterwards your software is been downloaded and installed on your local machine. Here, you can uninstall your software from your machine in-case you don’t need it anymore or even upgrade your software with just a single command in your terminal.
The package manager we’ll be using is called chocolatey. Follow the instructions below to install chocolatey package manager.
- Open your terminal as an Administrator. You can do that by pressing the windows key and typing cmd and press Shift key + Enter and select yes from the dialog box that appears.
In case you choose to use cmder, first of all you will have to extract (with WinRAR https://www.win-rar.com) your downloaded files to your pc directory/Folder, Pragram files directory is recommended. How to find program files?
- Go to and open your local Disk on your computer
- locate and Open Program files not Program files (x86)
- Create a new folder(Ctrl + shift + N) to store extracted cmder files. I recommend you name the folder cmder as I have done below (first folder) in Program Files directory
Now that we have our folder ready, it’s time to extract the downloaded files.
- Navigate to where you downloaded file (cmder) In this case go to Downloads, Right click on it and select Extract files
- From the next dialog box, navigate to the cmder folder we created. follow in this order(This Pc//Local Disk(C:)//Program Files//Cmder)
N.B: the small minus sign(-) means minimize/close and the (+) means maximize/open.. so incase you don't find the folder, you will have to open by clicking the (+) sign.
- Now click ok
- In order to create the cmder shortcut to desktop or taskbar, Right click on cmder icon in the cmder folder we created in the Program Files folder, select create shortcut and choose ok/yes or select pin to taskbar
- Now that we have the shortcut icon created on our desktop or taskbar, Right click on the icon and select Run as administrator.
N.B: Terminal must be ran as Administrator.
2. Copy and paste the following code and press enter
-InputFormat None -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Command
“[System.Net.ServicePointManager]::SecurityProtocol = 3072; iex ((New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadString(‘https://chocolatey.org/install.ps1'))" &&
3. Wait till the installation is done. Close and reopen the terminal and type choco -v to verify that the installation has succeeded.
4. Voila! It’s done
3. Text Editor / IDE (Integrated Desktop Environment)
In writing codes, one of the most important tools, you need is a text editor. Some people may go in for an IDE but in order to keep it simple I’d recommend a text editor. Almost all the time, I get questions from people like what’s the best text editor to use for web development. My answer to that question has always been simple. Every text editor gets the job done but others have features which may be liked or disliked depending on the user which is you. But if you ask me which editor do you like, I’d tell you straight that it is Visual Studio Code, vscode for short. Let’s get straight into installing vscode. Since we have installed a package manager it’ll be very easy to install vscode
- Open your terminal (cmder, I’d prefer) as an Administrator.
- Type into it choco install vscode and press enter
- Enter yes or y to any question that’s being asked
- Wait until the installation is done and type code -v and press enter to test your installation. If successfully installed, a string (series) of numbers or version of vscode will appear.
Extension for web development
Sometimes when coding, things can really get tough. Your code might get dirty, you might forget a function name, a tag or something. This is where editor extensions come in. In this tutorial, we’re going to be installing two extensions in our editor. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough data, these extensions are a few kilobytes. Follow the instructions to install the extension in vscode editor
- Press Ctrl + B to view the side bar if it’s not in view
- Click on the extension’s icon which is the fifth icon on the left side.You can alternatively press Ctrl + Shift + X to select
- Type the name of the extension you want to install, in this case it’s going to be prettier (An extension for refactoring code and making it look organized as the name suggests)
- Select the first option and click on install
- After prettier is installed, repeat the the same process to install for Lorem (An extension for giving content)
- Voila!!! We are done
A Version Control System (VCS), Git
Have you ever written code before and have mistakenly deleted it, lost your machine or lost your code by any means? Have you ever written a working code and later made modifications to it and your code becomes a mess and you can’t do anything? Have you ever wanted to versionize your code(if only am using the correct grammar..haha!)but don’t want to create a new folder or even work with some other developers together on a single project? If your answer to any of these question is YES, then I guess this part of the tutorial is definitely for you. Even if you think you don’t need it, I bet you, you need it. Don’t worry if you don’t understand and see the need to use git i would recommend you to just install it. I’ll make a full tutorial on git alone later in another article titled GETTING GIT. But for now just follow the instructions to install git, We’ll install git with the package manager we installed.
- Copy and paste or type choco install git and press enter.
(If you installed the full version of cmder, then you don’t need to install git again. But you can go ahead if you doubt that git is indeed installed on your computer. If git is already installed, our package manager (chocolatey) will issue a warning telling you that you already have git installed. If no warning, chocolatey will install git for you.).
- Type yes or y and enter to any question asked.
- wait till the installation is done.
Now our system is ready and capable of running some real programming codes… hahah!