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.)

Run Windows Apps 100% Seamlessly on Ubuntu

Very cool!

I know that most of us Linux [users] usually cringe whenever we need to *god forbid* use a Microsoft WIndows machine. So we created applications like Wine in an effort minimize the contact with that horrid machine. With Wine a big percentage of Windows only apps could run on Linux, which more or less takes Windows out of the equation and lets us interact directly with our favorite App. Another solution of course would be installing Windows on a virtual machine.

But running an app on a virtual machine doesn’t eliminate Windows from the equation. Right? So I will show you now how to run Windows apps 100% seamlessly on Ubuntu.

(via Royal Linuxing!)

VMware Tools Don’t Work in Ubuntu 8.10

Found these two links to information about VMware Tools not working with Ubuntu 8.10. I’ve been looking for a solution to this myself since testing with Ubuntu 8.10 Alpha 5…

From the FAQ:

Tools compile cleanly on 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) but do not work

There are several aspects to this – soft ungrab not working, mouse clicks being displaced, vmware-user not starting (and so Unity and other dependent features don’t work).

Explanation

Soft ungrab not working and mouse clicks being displaced are known Ubuntu vmmouse bugs. An update is not yet available.

vmware-user not starting appears to be related to Intrepid’s autostart format having changed. A workaround is to go to System > Preferences > Sessions in the Ubuntu desktop menu and add /usr/bin/vmware-user as a startup command.

open-vm-tools may also work.

VirtualBox: Free Virtualization Software

800px-VirtualBox

I’ve been using VMware Player for quite some time, and it’s quite good, but recently, I stumbled upon another free virtualization tool which also allows you to create new VM images (VMware Player only plays back VMware images created with a purchased version, such as VMware Workstation, or through a website such as EasyVMX: http://www.easyvmx.com/)

According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VirtualBox):

VirtualBox is an x86 virtualization software package originally created by German software company Innotek and now being developed by Sun Microsystems as part of its Sun xVM virtualization platform. It is installed on an existing host operating system; within this application, additional operating systems, each known as a Guest OS, can be loaded and run, each with its own virtual environment. For example, Linux can be guest hosted on a single virtual machine running Microsoft Windows XP as the Host OS; or, XP and Windows Vista can run as guest OSes on a machine running OpenSolaris.

Supported host operating systems include Linux, Mac OS X, OS/2 Warp, Windows, and Solaris, while supported guest operating systems include FreeBSD, Linux, OpenBSD, OS/2 Warp, Windows and Solaris.[1]

According to a 2007 survey by DesktopLinux.com, VirtualBox is the third most popular software package for running Windows programs on Linux desktops.[2]

So far, so good, with the exception of a little glitch I experienced while installing FreeDOS. Ubuntu runs quite well, and quite fast, as far as I can tell.

A particularly cool element of VirtualBox is the “Seamless Desktop” mode, similar to what is found in Parallels or VMware Fusion on the Macintosh:

750px-Virtualbox15seamless

Considering the level of functionality given for free, which is quite similar to the functionality you’d have to pay for in VMware or Parallels, I’m tempted to stick with VirtualBox for the near future and put it through its paces.

If you’re curious about VirtualBox yourself, you can find a copy here:

http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads

and more directly, here:

Sun xVM VirtualBox 1.6 Download

Update:

Here are some links to download pre-made VirtualBox images:

http://virtualbox.wordpress.com/

http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=213555

Run Windows Apps from your Existing Windows Partition in Linux « Mohammad Azimi

Found this article from a linkback to my post “Feature: Seamlessly Run Linux Apps on Your Windows Desktop“…

I saw a post this morning showing you can run Windows applications from a virtual Windows install on your Linux Desktop. Although this may seem like it’s not that big of a deal, anyone who virtualizes another OS such as Windows from within VMware knows it can
sometimes be a hassle to switch between your Linux desktop and the Windows one since you only have access to application windows within each OS and your Guest OS is limited to running within the VMware window. The advantage of integrating the guest OS into your existing desktop allows you to easily switch between different applications and use applications side by side regardless of what OS they are on. As you can see in the pic above (click to enlarge), this method gives you access to the StartMenu from your Linux desktop as well as placing guest OS applications in the Gnome panel. The original website provided a method that needed some modification to work for me. Additionally, the following guide will show you how to safely set this up on an existing Windows partition.

(more via: Run Windows Apps from your Existing Windows Partition in Linux « Mohammad Azimi)