Tools we use - 2015 edition

Happy New Year! It's almost becoming a tradition now to list all of the development tools and bits that I've been using over the past year, to see how things are changing. 2015 wasn't the best of years at a personal level, but despite it all I've been learning new things and looking into new tools and ways of working.

Operating Systems

  • Windows Home Server 2011 - file server, SVN repository, backup host, CI server
  • Windows 10 Professional - development machine
  • Windows XP (virtualized) - testing
  • Windows Vista (virtualized) - testing

Development Tools

  • New! Postman is a absolutely brilliant client for testing REST services.
  • Visual Studio 2015 Premium - not much to say
  • .NET Reflector - controversy over free vs paid aside, this is still worth the modest cost for digging behind the scenes when you want to know how the BCL works.
  • New! DotPeek - a decent replacement to .NET Reflector that can view things that Reflector can't, making it a worthwhile replacement despite some bugs and being chronically slow to start
  • New! Gulp - I use this to minify and combine JavaScript and CSS files
  • New! TypeScript - makes writing JavaScript just that much nicer, and the new React support is just icing on the cake

Visual Studio Extensions

  • Cyotek Add Projects - a simple extension I created that I use pretty much any time I create a new solution to add references to my standard source code libraries. Saves me time and key presses, which is good enough for me!
  • OzCocde - this is one of the tools you wonder why isn't in Visual Studio by default
  • .NET Demon - yet another wonderful tool that helps speed up your development, this time by not slowing you down waiting for compiles. Unfortunately it's no longer supported by RedGate as apparently VS2015 will do this. VS2015 doesn't do all of this, and I really miss build on save.
  • VSCommands 2013 (not updated for VS2015)
  • New! EditorConfig - useful for OSS projects to avoid space-vs-tab wars
  • New! File Nesting - allows you to easily nest files, great for TypeScript
  • New! Open Command Line - easily open command prompts, PowerShell prompts, or other tools to your project / solution directories
  • New! VSColorOutput - I use this to colour my output window, means I don't miss VSCommands at all!
  • Indent Guides
  • Resharper - originally as a replacement for Regionerate, this swiftly became a firm favourite every time it told me I was doing something stupid.
  • NCrunch for Visual Studio - (version 2!) automated parallel continuous testing tool. Works with NUnit, MSTest and a variety of other test systems. Great for TDD and picking up how a simple change you made to one part of your project completely destroys another part. We've all been there!

Analytics

  • Innovasys Lumitix - we've been using this for years now in an effort to gain some understanding in how our products are used by end users. I keep meaning to write a blog post on this, maybe I'll get around to that in 201456!

Profiling

  • ANTS Performance Profiler - the best profiler I've ever used. The bottlenecks and performance issues this has helped resolve with utter ease is insane. It. Just. Works.

Documentation Tools

  • Innovasys Document! X - Currently we use this to produce the user manuals for our applications.
  • SubMain GhostDoc Pro - Does a slightly better job of auto generating XML comment documentation thatn doing it fully from scratch. Actually, barley use this now, the way it litters my code folders with XML files when I don't use any functionality bar auto-document is starting to more than annoy me.
  • New! Atomineer Pro Documentation - having finally gotten fed up of GhostDoc's bloat and annoying config files, I replaced it with Atomineer, finding this tool to be much better for my needs
  • MarkdownPad Pro - fairly decent Markdown editor that is currently better than our own so I use it instead! Doesn't work properly with Windows 10, doesn't seem to be getting supported or updated
  • New! MarkdownEdit - a no frills minimalist markdown editor that I have been using
  • Notepad++ - because Notepad hasn't changed in 20 years (moving menu items around doesn't count!)

Graphics Tools

  • Paint.NET - brilliant bitmap editor with extensive plugins
  • Axialis IconWorkshop - very nice icon editor, been using this for untold years now since Microangelo decided to become the Windows Paint of icon editing
  • Cyotek Spriter - sprite / image map generation software
  • Cyotek Gif Animator - gif animation creator that is shaping up nicely, although I'm obviously biased.

Virtualization

  • Oracle VM VirtualBox - for creating guest OS's for testing purposes. Cyotek software is informally smoke tested mainly on Windows XP, but occasionally Windows Vista. Visual Studio 2013 installed Hyper-V, but given as the VirtualBox VM's have been running for years with no problems, this is disabled. Still need to switch back to Hyper-V if I want to be able to do any mobile development. Which I do.

Version Control

File/directory comparison

  • WinMerge - not much to say, it works and works well

File searching

  • WinGrep - previously I just used to use Notepad++'s search in files but... this is a touch simpler all around

Backups

  • Cyotek CopyTools - we use this for offline backups of source code, assets and resources, documents, actually pretty much anything we generate; including backing up the backups!
  • CrashPlan - CrashPlan creates an online backup of the different offline backups that CopyTools does. If you've ever lost a harddisk before with critical data on it that's nowhere else, you'll have backups squirrelled away everywhere too!

About The Author

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The founder of Cyotek, Richard enjoys creating new blog content for the site. Much more though, he likes to develop programs, and can often found writing reams of code. A long term gamer, he has aspirations in one day creating an epic video game. Until that time, he is mostly content with adding new bugs to WebCopy and the other Cyotek products.

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Omer Raviv

# Reply

Thanks for mentioning OzCode :)

You mention that you miss the ability to Build on Save in VS2015 - if you've already upgraded to Resharper 10, have you tried to enable the new "Resharper Build"? I've been using it for the past month or so and it works really well!

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Richard Moss

# Reply

How could I not mention OzCode, if I had to choose one, then I would class it as my #1 development aid. Resharper, NCrunch, etc are all nice, but when I'm debugging and tearing out my hair, OzCode's visualizations and compare functionality are worth their virtual weight in gold :)

As for Resharper's Build stuff, I thought that was geared around it's unit test runner, which I have disabled as I use the excellent NCrunch. I just give it a quick whirl and it doesn't seem to support "Build on save", and I don't like the way it's dumping nothing into the output window... I'm used to seeing colour coded failed/success lines appearing in there. So not that impressed, and I've just switched it off again.

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Andy Neillans

# Reply

VSCommands for 2015 is in beta; https://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/c84be782-b1f1-4f6b-85bb-945ebc852aa1?SRC=Featured