One thing I always find myself doing is showing people the little indisposable tools in my toolbox. Here’s a list of some I couldn’t live without.
- Reflector (http://www.aisto.com/roeder/dotnet/) – If you only get one tool, this is the one to choose. Decompile any .NET code. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been able to figure out why I’m getting some random exception back from a system function with this tool. It also faster to use than the .NET documentation, so I use it to lookup API’s. Do I need to call Dispose and then Close, or does Dispose call Close, now I know.
- Rhino mocks (http://ayende.com/projects/rhino-mocks.aspx) – I can’t imagine unit testing without rhino.
- Snoop (http://www.blois.us/Snoop/) – Do you develop WPF apps. This visual tree tool will help you figure out how to restyle almost anything.
- Wireshark (http://www.wireshark.org/) – Nothing beats this network sniffer
- TFS Sidekick (http://attrice.info/cm/tfs/) – All those things you wish TFS did, sidekick does.
- Stylus Studio (http://www.stylusstudio.com/) – hands down the best XML tool on the planet.
- The Regulator (http://tools.osherove.com/CoolTools/Regulator/tabid/185/Default.aspx) I love regular expressions, but they can a nightmare to debug. This tool makes it regex trial and error fast and easy.
- Ghost Doc (http://www.roland-weigelt.de/ghostdoc/) – I like writing code, I don’t like writing comments. I like ghost doc.
- Sandcastle (http://blogs.msdn.com/sandcastle/) – Again, I like writing code, I don’t like writing docs. Make professional looking documentation from your code.
- Process Monitor (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896645.aspx) What the heck is locking that file? ProcMon knows.
Of course it goes without saying that Visual Studio is the tool that I use most. But there are a bunch of things in Visual Studio that take beginners some time to figure out. If you don’t know what these are, go figure them out now!!
- The immediate window – I wish it was more robust, but what it is now is pretty powerful.
- Auto format/ auto indent
- Code snippets
- Automatic “using” statements
- Conditional breakpoints
- Code analysis
- Move to last position (CTRL -)
- Incremental Search
- Find and Replace with Regex
- Flagging threads in the thread window
These are just a few things I use to get my job done. If you don’t know what any of these tools or VS features are, I encourage you to try them out.