Sunday, January 25, 2009

Helpful Development Tools

I use Visual Studio 2008 for my daily development. I've found these tools useful in assisting me. If you are a fellow developer, you might find them useful too.

Source Code Control client for Subversion servers. Integrates into the windows shell, providing handy shortcuts for checkouts, updates, and commits.

SVN client plug-in for Visual Studio. Allows you to perform SVN commands from within the IDE.

Plug-in for Visual Studio that can automatically generate XML documentation comments. This is really handy. If your naming conventions are pretty good, it takes a pretty good guess at the appropriate comment. You just have to tweak it after it fills in the majority of the boilerplate.

This is a help in so many ways. If you use NUnit for unit testing, it provides unit testing integration. It performs a much broader set of syntax checking for you than the default IDE does. Ever wonder how many of those using statements are really necessary? This will tell you. It also hunts down opportunities to simplify your code, and to eliminate potential bugs. Worth the license price, but if you don't want to pay it you can always use the "beta".

Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools
Even though I develop on a Vista x64 platform, I've installed this set of tools for one reason: tail.exe The tail program included with this service pack works just like the UNIX tail command. It shows the last few lines of a file. This is very useful if you want to monitor a text log, or some other file that is being updated by an application.

KB957912 - Update for Visual Studio 2008 SP1 Debugging and Breakpoints
One of the most frustrating parts of debugging a multi-threaded app in Visual Studio 2008 is that the debugger will sometimes revert back to run mode. This happens whenever an exception is thrown in any thread, even if it is caught. This update for visual studio 2008 service pack 1 corrects that issue. This is a must have patch for anyone doing multi-threaded coding.

Those are the main tools I've found useful. If there are any tools you feel like you can't live without, I'd love to hear about them in the comments.


  1. Is there any particular reason why you're using "Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools" rather than a linux emulator like cygwin?

    With cygwin, not only would you get tail, but you'd also get good X-windows tools, lots of ssh related tools and you could pipe, sed and awk to your heart's content.

  2. Yes, I initially tried using CygWin and that version of tail, but it would stop updating once the file reached a certain size. My log files were sometimes in excess of 1GB, and there CygWin tail wouldn't keep up. The WS2003RKT did.