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Monday, January 17, 2011

This Developer’s Tool Set

The name is inspired by This Developer’s Life (the podcast), be sure to check it out.

Well I have to say in the last year I formatted my work computer more times than I formatted my home computer and every time I installed a set of must have programs. I decided to share my list with you (and maybe next time I won’t have to do so from memory).

Visual Studio 2010 and 2008 – It’s a must for a .net programmer on a windows PC (if I could I would install only the 2010 but we have some legacy code to consider).

Add-on/Extensions for VS:

  • Resharper (called also R#) – a must have. I tried not using it but after I had to format my computer I reinstalled it. Now I am using it with EAP (Early Access Program) of version 6 (I will write about it later). R# allows you to find unused references, add references from the code (when the project or a reference to the project is somewhere in the solution), find unneeded using statements in Cs and Xaml files and much more.
  • AllMargins – Show in the margins between the code and the solution explorer (at least for me) the structure of the code, it allows a quick view of the source code as tooltip and when clicked it jumps to that location in the code.
  • CaretMargin – Show in the margins between the code and the solution explorer (at least for me) the current selected variable/method/class as a blue square and all it’s other references in the code as grey squares.
  • Collapse Solution – Adds a button Solution Explorer that collapse all the solution.
  • Spell Checker – Checks your spelling as you type them (you might have to educate the program since commented code is mostly a spell error or if you are like me (and you consider commented code as an error in judgment!), you might not change a thing…).
  • PowerCommands for Visual Studio 2010 – a lot of commands for VS


Chrome or Firefox:

I like to use Chrome at work simply because at the end of the day I have to decide what tabs stay with me the next day and what tabs I close – I think 9 out of 10 times I close all the tabs which just mean better performance the next day.

On the other hand at home I like Firefox simply because it has all my bookmarks and it saves all my tabs – at home I just don’t care, the Firefox is open 24/7 and not saving the tabs is just a hassle.

Firefox extensions:

  • FireBug – Debug JavaScript, edit Html/CSS on the fly and much more, make this tool a must have to any web developer
  • TabMixPlus – I actually been using this since I started to use Firefox, it has customizations for everything in Firefox, my favorite settings: when closing a tab go to the last used tab, when pressing ctrl+tab navigate the most recent used, customize the tab context menu and much more (though at the beginning I mostly used it to save my tabs…).
  • Adblock Plus – a must! (though it seems it blocks commenting on Blogger as well…)
  • iMacros for Firefox – Have you ever had to fill a form in an old style web site? Was it always the same? Then this is for you, just record your actions and bookmark the macro and you are set.
  • Read it later – allows you to save something to read later on the web (I sometimes use it to pass reading material between my home and work computers – it’s a hassle to send an email when clicking > on the address bar does the job nicely…).
  • Download Statusbar – shows the download on the status bar(like in chrome)
  • DownThemAll – downloads all the elements in the page (you can specify what type of elements you want)
  • Flashblock – blocks flash until you decide to allow it, no more crazy animation
  • IE Tab Plus - because some sites just don’t allow newer browsers (go figure?)
  • StatusbarEx – because it’s nice to know when you should close some tabs (or shudder close the Firefox) – for me it’s around 700MB of memory (if you haven’t figured it out it shows the memory and CPU usage of Firefox)
  • Stylish – allows you to permanently change the style of the web site (you can even download premade web styles, want to see a darker Facebook?)
  • TooManyTabs – it’s bookmarking but with categories shown as a toolbar (very useful), I have categories such as: study, work, games

Chrome Tools/Extensions:

  • Developer Tools – the Chrome built in version of Firebug
  • Chrome it later – like Read it later but less usable (I only have it because I use it on Firefox and there are no alternatives in Chrome except the web interface which is worst)
  • Adblock Plus – a must! (though it seems it blocks commenting on Blogger as well…)
  • FlashBlock - simply because I like to decide what I want to spent my memory/CPU/bandwidth on (identical to Firefox)
  • IE Tab Classic – because some sites just don’t allow newer browsers (go figure?)
  • Google Reader: Note in Reader (Unofficial) – allow you to add a note in Google Reader about the current Site (in Firefox you simply click on a bookmark).
  • Stylish – the same as Firefox


Some kind of source control:

  • TFS (Team Foundation Server) – Microsoft source control, we use it at work
  • Dropbox – I know it’s not really source control but it saves changes, it saves them on the server, it works on several computers and it allows you to share a folder with another user (allowing some form of multiple checkouts – just be careful). If you are a student or have an account in some university you can even get extra MBs for refers. The link is just saying I referred you, I get extra 500MB and you an extra 250MB. For my home projects this is quite enough (it’s enough to save versions on their servers).


Other Applications:

MyGeneration – even though some people will claim code generation is out, it is always useful to have a tool handy so you don’t have to implement things yourself. For inserting feature data where NHibernate is too complicated to implement and Entity Framework/LINQ to SQL do not support using code generation is the way to go. But for all those still hissing in the background, consider this – what is code generation? Creating code automatically from user input, no? What is then WinForms and don’t tell me you are not using the designer! It might be more stable but at the end it is still generating code (and I had some exceptions with the WinForms Designer so I can only say it’s mostly stable), so is generating code and LINQ to SQL (Code Gen is not gone it’s just got a new/old shiny name – “Designer”). In the near future I will write a post on Code Gen and MyGeneration.

Microsoft SQL Server Management – even if you know nothing of SQL (you should really learn some!). When installing make sure you install SQL Server Profiler as well.

Notepad++ I like tabs and I like saved tabs (in Firefox I installed the Session Manager and Tab Mix Plus extension for their ability to save tabs (back then Firefox didn’t have the ability built in)) and with some tweak it can even indent your XML to a readable format.

Windows Live Writer – lately I edit at home and write raw drafts at work. So it’s a must but you have to install some of the extensions:


Do you have any addons/applications you think I could use? Than post them here, I promise I will check them out.


Resharper 5 Download page

Resharper 6 EAP nightly builds

Keywords: Visual Studio, 2008, 2010, Resharper, R#, AllMargins, CaretMargin, Collapse Solution, Spell Checker, Notepad++, tidy, macros, XML, iMacros, Dropbox, MyGeneration, Code Gen, R#, resharper