Inside Wintellect, we’ve been having a big email chain about all the tools all the technical folks use. Of course, we all use Visual Studio, TFS, and have read Hanselman’s phenomenal Tools List, but our question was what are the tools each of us used on a daily basis to solve real world problems and get our jobs done? Here’s the list of what everyone is using with the quick comments as to why they are useful. Feel free to add the tools you think we should be using in the comments.

Web Tools

  • Fiddler – Awesomeness for debugging web sites and RESTful web services (Free)
  • FireBug – Amazing Firefox addin that provides a wealth of information about your web pages (Free)
  • Firefox with Flash Block – Flash has its place but only if you want to see it. (Free)
  • Microsoft Web Platform Installer – A one stop shop for installing common MS Web Tools. Not for every website as it installs the Express editions of tools instead of production versions, but it is good for setting up developer boxes. (Free)
  • Selenium – A Firefox addin that records and plays back all browser actions for great automated testing (Free)
  • Web Developer for Firefox – Another useful developer specific addin (Free)
  • NetMon – Sometimes you just have to see exactly what’s on the wire (Free)

Productivity Tools

  • 7-Zip – The ultimate in compression tools (Free)
  • ClipX – The clipboard that should be in the operating system (Free)
  • Everything Search – Yes, Windows 7 search is great but this tool is a nice addition. It does a nearly instantaneous filename search(not contents) of ALL files on your local drives (Free)
  • Fences – A great utility for organizing your desktop (Free for personal use)
  • NirSoft Utilities – A number of amazing tools (Free)
  • Notepad2 or Notepad++ – The ultimate notepad replacement. Both are based on wonderful Scintilla editing component (Free)
  • OneNote – The greatest piece of software ever written. I’ve done more debugging and development with OneNote than anything else.
  • PureText – Pastes plain text from your clipboard. Effectively removes all rich formatting from clipboard text. It’s smart regarding HMTL. If you copy from the page source it retains the HTML tags, if you copy from a actual webpage it removes formatting (Free)
  • TextPad – Good macro language, good tools for allowing add-ons and language specific features also comes with a large and involved community
  • TweetDeck – For tracking what’s going on in the world 140 characters at a time (Free)
  • Virtual Clone Drive – Why isn’t ISO mounting part of the operating system? (Free)

Development Tools

  • CruiseControl .NET – An open source continuous integration server that interoperates with just about every source control product (Free)
  • Enterprise Architect – A fantastic tool for UML and scheme/UI design. It will generate code from class diagrams and vice versa
  • LinqPad – An interactive, all purpose tool for querying databases, XML and other LINQ datasources. This is also a great tool for learning the LINQ syntax. (Free)
  • LogParser – Microsoft’s SQL query tool for analyzing just about any type of log file (Free)
  • Microsoft Web Capacity Analysis Tool (WCat) – Formerly known as Web Application Stress Tool, formerly known as “Homer”, but still bangs hard on your web apps (Free)
  • MSBuildShellExtension – Lets you build .NET projects through Windows Explorer without opening Visual Studio or the command prompt (Free)
  • NDepend – The tool for unraveling complex codebases with lots of interdependencies
  • NUnit – Still one of the best unit testing frameworks (Free)
  • RedGate SQL Compare and SQL Data Compare – Both work great for generating database scripts for data and schemas
  • Reflector – If you’re not aware of this tool, you probably aren’t a .NET Developer! <grin!> (Free)
  • RegEx Designer.NET – Developing and testing regular expressions without writing code (Free)
  • RegexBuddy – The serious regular expression designer tool. Having a debugger for regular expressions is awesome. The UI model of the tool is beyond weird, though.
  • Resharper – Extremely powerful for not only enforcing naming conventions and coding standards, but also refactoring. The recent versions manage their memory footprint far better than older ones
  • SciTech .NET Memory Profiler – .NET development is always about the memory. Truly see your memory usage with this tool.
  • SketchFlow for Expression Blend – The new UI prototyping tool included in Expression Blend 3. Microsoft always demonstrates this for Silverlight and WPF but it useful for HTML and WinForms UI prototyping too. I used this on a recent project and it made a huge difference for getting stakeholder feedback on our pending designs
  • SoapUI – Makes debugging and testing SOAP services a dream (Free version)
  • SourceGear DiffMerge – Industrial strength differencing and merging (Free)
  • StartSSL –X.509 certificates (Free)
  • StyleCop – Never underestimate consistency of location for publics, privates, variables, etc, in your code. (Free)
  • Sysinternals Tools – All these tools are golden (Free)
  • TFS Sidekicks – Super helpful UI versions of most TFS command line items (Free)
  • Tortoise SVN – Your easy SVN access (Free)
  • Visual SVN – A great SVN plug in for Visual Studio (Free)
  • Visual SVN Server – The easy way to install and administer SVN version control on Windows (Free)
  • XMLSpy – Good for working with XML in a number of ways. A bit pricy, though

Finally, we were also throwing around web sites that were useful and someone mentioned the fun Lorem Ipsum web site, to generate filler text. Turns out you don’t need that web site. Here’s your bizarre trick of the day.

  1. Start Word 2007
  2. Enter (without quotes) “=lorem(10,5)”
  3. Press Enter

That generates ten paragraphs and up to five lines per paragraph of Lorem Ipsum text. I guess someone on the Word team needed some fake text and forgot to take it out of the product. Now they have to support it forever because there’s a Knowledge Base article about =lorem and =rand. Sergio gets full credit for knowing that little trick.