My Toolbox


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.



  1. 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.


  2. Rhino mocks (http://ayende.com/projects/rhino-mocks.aspx) – I can’t imagine unit testing without rhino.


  3. 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.

  4. Wireshark (http://www.wireshark.org/) – Nothing beats this network sniffer

  5. TFS Sidekick (http://attrice.info/cm/tfs/) – All those things you wish TFS did, sidekick does.

  6. Stylus Studio (http://www.stylusstudio.com/) – hands down the best XML tool on the planet.

  7. 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.

  8. Ghost Doc (http://www.roland-weigelt.de/ghostdoc/) – I like writing code, I don’t like writing comments. I like ghost doc.

  9. Sandcastle (http://blogs.msdn.com/sandcastle/) – Again, I like writing code, I don’t like writing docs.  Make professional looking documentation from your code.

  10. 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!!



  1. The immediate window – I wish it was more robust, but what it is now is pretty powerful.

  2. Auto format/ auto indent

  3. Refactoring

  4. Code snippets

  5. Automatic “using” statements

  6. Conditional breakpoints

  7. Profiler

  8. Code analysis

  9. Move to last position (CTRL -)

  10. Incremental Search

  11. Find and Replace with Regex

  12. 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.


Comments (2)

  1. ee says:

    Thanks for the list, some good stuff in there. For example, I hadn’t realized that I was so addicted to CTRL- until i had to go back to VS6 for a client. Then I was forever hitting it to no avail. ><

  2. Ronda says:

    Great Post …. always nice to peek into someones toolbox.  I had a few – learned about some new ones – very worthwhile post.