11 Tools Every ASP.NET Programmer Should Install

I found a great list of “6 Free Tools that every Windows Programmer should Install” via a contact of mine on Twitter, which made me want to create my own list, similar to the tools listed in the link above, with a few additions and changes:

  1. Firebug

    If you have Firefox, but you haven’t tried this yet, install it now. You’ll thank me later. Firebug is currently my most essential tool (besides Visual Studio, of course) to web development since it effortlessly debugs JavaScript and shows you the ins and outs of the DOM on any page you’re inspecting. Firebug is available as an extension for Firefox, or as a bookmarklet for any other browser.

    It’s also worth noting that Safari and Chrome (well, anything rendered with Webkit, it seems) have an excellent set of development tools built-in that are very similar to the functionality of Firebug in Firefox, and even IE8 is catching up to the game with its Developer Tools window/pane.

  2. Unlocker

    I agree with Ian, this program is excellent. Gives you some useful information for a change (and something you can do with it) when you get the message “Cannot delete <X>: It is being used by another person or program.”

  3. TortoiseSVN

    If you’ve been using Subversion for source control, I’m sure you’ve heard of this client. If not, get it immediately. It rocks, and integrates exceptionally well with Windows Explorer. (Not to mention Visual Studio, via AnkhSVN or VisualSVN)

  4. IETester

    Since Internet Explorer is the scourge of the Interwebs that will never go away, it helps to be able to test your site in multiple versions of IE, and since only one version can be installed at a time (and since IE8 Compatibility Mode doesn’t really help at all), IETester is a good solution that lets you test IE5.5, IE6, IE7, and IE8 rendering engines in the same tabbed browser. Very cool.

  5. VMWare Player

    …But, as my coworker mentioned, Internet Explorer is pretty invasive and modifies more on your system than just the rendering DLLs, so it’s a good idea to keep a spare VM running each flavor of IE as well. VMWare Player is the free version of VMWare Workstation, which will run pre-existing virtual machines, but can’t create new ones. Since that functionality is missing from VMWare Player, you can use this site to create your own virtual machines from scratch: EasyVMX! Virtual Machine Creator.

  6. .NET Reflector

    RedGate’s description says it best:
    “.NET Reflector enables you to easily view, navigate, and search through, the class hierarchies of .NET assemblies, even if you don’t have the code for them. With it, you can decompile and analyze .NET assemblies in C#, Visual Basic, and IL.”

  7. Sysinternals Suite (includes Process Explorer)

    Ian Hickman’s post (6 Free Tools that every Windows Programmer should Install) suggests Process Explorer alone, which is a superior Task Manager replacement, but I’ll extend it to suggest the whole Sysinternals Suite, since it comes with so many other great utilities and includes Process Explorer along with them. One of my favorite tools besides PE is AutoRuns, which is a msconfig.exe replacement that offers a much better look at your startup apps and services.

  8. WinMerge

    TortoiseSVN comes with its own diff tool, but I tend to end up using WinMerge instead because it does a great job with comparing local files or differing versions of a file in source control, and integrates seamlessly with TortoiseSVN.

  9. Launchy

    I’m definitely a keyboard junkie, so anything I can do to keep my hands on the keyboard is a plus. Launchy is by far my favorite application launcher for that reason. All I have to do is hit Alt+Space (you can reassign the hotkey if you like), and it brings up a prompt that allows me to launch anything on my Start Menu, and do a number of other tasks as well (launch websites, perform quick calculations, etc.). Definitely saves me a ton of time.

  10. Charles / Fiddler

    Of the two apps listed above, I prefer Charles, which is a paid application, but I’ve listed Fiddler as a free alternative. Both apps are proxies that log traffic between your system and the server you’re debugging (even localhost) and both provide valuable debugging information that is particularly helpful when trying to debug web services. From the Charles website:
    “Charles is an HTTP proxy / HTTP monitor / Reverse Proxy that enables a developer to view all of the HTTP traffic between their machine and the Internet. This includes requests, responses and the HTTP headers (which contain the cookies and caching information).”

  11. EmEditorNotepad++ / Notepad2

    All three of the apps listed above are excellent full-featured text editors, but I prefer the feature set of EmEditor, which is a paid application. The killer feature that EmEditor provides which I haven’t yet found in either of the other editors is the Find *and Replace* in files. Notepad++ has a Find in Files option, but I haven’t found a Replace in Files function without opening up every single document and performing a replace in all open documents (info on that approach here: How To “Find And Replace” Words In Multiple Files).

    Notepad2 doesn’t offer the same tabbed document interface that both EmEditor and Notepad++ offer, but it is an incredibly lightweight, and more importantly, self-contained executable that’s a perfect drop-in replacement for Windows Notepad (info on how to do this here: Replace Notepad with Notepad2).

    Any of these apps offer syntax highlighting and are a great alternative to firing up Visual Studio when you need to make a quick edit (or on one of the *many* occasions when Visual Studio slows waaaaay down or locks up your system).

Honorable mention: PhraseExpress
This program rocks. I’ve only started using it recently, and not nearly to its fullest potential, but the clipboard manager functionality alone is worth the download:

Also, I neglected to mention AutoHotkey since I haven’t used it as much as I probably could, but I can say that I’ve had a lot of luck with the AutoHotkey script iTunesAnywhere, which helps since I don’t have a keyboard with multimedia keys and for whatever godforsaken reason, iTunes *still* doesn’t natively support global hotkeys like Winamp does. (I’d switch back to Winamp, but I drank the Apple kool-aid and picked up an iPhone in January.)

the hamstu » The Typography of Code

fixed_prop.png

Cool post with a lot of great history and font samples!

As a self proclaimed programmer/designer I enjoy not only the logical and practical things in life, but also the beautiful and well designed. And I find the greatest pleasure when these things converge to produce something extraordinary.One such thing is Typography. Typography is the art of language, the visualization of the spoken word. A medium by which non-verbal communication is made possible. And though I profess no expertise in this art, I have come to deeply appreciate it’s power and ability to convey the same message in so many different ways. Each with a unique feeling and style.

The Messenger

In 1956 Howard Kettler designed the typeface Courier. It was made for IBM’s new (and revolutionary) line of electric typewriters. Originally called “Messenger”, Courier is one of the earliest fixed-pitch (also known as Monospace) fonts, meaning each character takes up the same amount of space on a line; allowing for easy tabular alignment and legibility.

Courier was a hit, and as many made the transition from typewriter to computer, this classic typeface wasn’t far behind. It was included in all early Apple computers, and while creating the core fonts for Windows 3.1, Microsoft hired Monotype Typography to give Courier a makeover. And so Courier New was born, as a thinner and cleaner version of it’s former self.

via the hamstu » The Typography of Code.

C# Corner: How to get distinct rows from a DataSet or DataTable

Not without its typos, but quite a helpful article nonetheless… 😉

One of the common issues in data layer is avoiding duplicate rows from dataset or datatable. I saw many people are writing separate function and looping through the datatable to avoid the duplicates. There is more simple ways available in .Net but people are unaware about this. I thought of writing a blog about this because I saw many blogs which mislead the people from right path. Thers is no need of looping or no need of logic are required to avoid the duplicates.

Following single line of code will avoid the duplicate rows.

ds.Tables[“Employee”].DefaultView.ToTable(true,”employeeid”);

ds – Dataset object

dt.DefaultView.ToTable( true, “employeeid”);

dt – DataTable object

First option in ToTable is a boolean which indicates, you want distinct rows or not?

Second option in the ToTable is the column name based on which we have to select distinct rows.

Simple right, this option is the last one so most of the people didn’t got the time to find it. Now your code will look much cleaner without those junk codes.

via How to get [distinct] rows from a DataSet or Datatable? by shyju.

#region: Awesome or Horrible?

While coding in Java recently, I decided to do a little research to see if Java supported the #region directive (or something similar) and found a ton of articles knocking its usage as poor programming style.

Personally, I love the #region directive in C#, as it allows me to keep my code more organized (and yes, I am aware of the exisiting code-folding functionality in Visual Studio). In the files I work with, I’ve become pretty meticulous about organizing the code blocks into regions, partially because I like the organization, and partly because I was previously under the impression that it was good form to keep source files organized in this way. I use the following regions myself, generally:

  • Private/Protected Members
  • Public Accessors
  • Constructors
  • Public Methods
  • Protected Methods
  • Private Methods
  • (Anything class specific)

I agree with the sentiment in the articles I’ve read that it is *not* good practice to sweep bad code under the rug by hiding it from the developer in a folded #region, but I think that organizing relatively good code into regions like the ones I’ve mentioned above makes it a lot easier to get directly to the code I want to work on.

What do you think? I’m curious to see justifications for/against this directive, and as always, thanks for reading!

Additional links:

Visual Studio Incremental Search (Type-Ahead Find)

This is just awesome – with Ctrl+I, you can perform a type-ahead search within Visual Studio, just like Firefox!

Again, my buddy Sairama to the rescue. Just when I think I’ve pretty much got VS.NET down solid (only being use it since Pre-Beta days, right?) I’m thrown a curve ball called incremental search. I guess I just assumed that a feature that was so cool in so many other editors would never make it into VS.NET. Silly me.

So, lest I be the most ignorant, fire up Visual Studio.NET, get some code in there, hit Ctrl-I and start typing. After you’ve found something, use F3 to Find Next. In the words of Chris Sells – It’s pure sex.

via Scott Hanselman’s Computer Zen – My ignorance proceeds me: Visual Studio.NET Incremental Search.

Visual Studio 2008 SP1

2008-08-25_104903

I’ve seen a *lot* of hits on my post “Visual Studio 2008 Is Pretty Damn Slow…“, which means that a lot of you are probably still experiencing speed issues with Visual Studio 2008. In regard to this, I thought it might be prudent to post information about the recently released Service Pack 1 for VS2008 and where to find it:

aa700831.VS08_v(en-us,MSDN.10)

Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 Downloads

Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 significantly improve the developer experience during the development process, and at runtime. These improvements address top issues reported by customers. For more information, see Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and .NET Framework 3.5 SP1.

Downloads

Additionally, the original hotfix which was intended to fix the speed issue (and is probably integrated into VS2008SP1) is available here:

And…

Here are all my posts related to this Visual Studio 2008:

ASP.NET: Starter Kits and Community Projects

In relation to the last post, here are some starter kits and projects officially listed at Microsoft’s own ASP.NET site (http://www.asp.net/community/projects/)

Starter Kits

 

DotNetNuke® Web Application Starter Kit

DotNetNuke is an open source web application framework ideal for creating, deploying and managing interactive web, intranet and extranet sites. The combination of an enterprise portal, built-in content management system, elegant skinning engine, and the ability to display static and dynamic content makes DotNetNuke an essential tool for ASP.NET developers.

TheBeerHouse: CMS and E-commerce Starter Kit

TheBeerHouse starter kit enables you to implement a website with functionality typically associated with a CMS/e-commerce site. This website demonstrates key features of ASP.NET 2.0 and is the sample used in the book, “ASP.NET 2.0 Website Programming / Problem – Design – Solution.”

Small Business Starter Kit

The Small Business Starter Kit provides a sample of a business promotion website suitable for small and medium-sized businesses. It provides a template for customizing and creating a site for your own business out-of-the-box, with advanced features including integration with SQL and XML data sources for content and data management.

Open Source

dasBlog

dasBlog is a blogging engine that offers elegant visual aesthetics, powerful easy to use features, and a unique application architecture. dasBlog requires no database engine, using file-based content management with an architecture that ensures excellent performance.

Visit the dasBlog Web Site

ScrewTurn Wiki

ScrewTurn Wiki is a fast, powerful and simple ASP.NET wiki engine, installs in a matter of minutes and it’s available in different packages, fitting every need. It’s even free and open source.

Visit the ScrewTurn Wiki Web Site