Monday, 18 May 2015

Setting up

Whether you are setting up a development workstation or swapping jobs, you probably want to make sure that you have all of the gadgets and utilities that make your work life easier which may not be on the default machine image supplied to you.

That is where posts like this come in. You'll find that most development blogs will have a post of this nature, where the author lists some of the cheap or free productivity tools that they have found useful.

Here is my list.

It's like notepad but better; tabs, tab persistence between sessions, find in all tabs, and that's just the tabs!! You can even define your own language syntax to create custom document highlighting (if you want).

Resolve sharing violations by removing a troublesome lock that another process has on that file. For example: "Hmm, I can't delete this folder, and even though nothing and no-one should be using it." - Unlocker to the rescue, albeit a dangerous and crude one. If this sounds abhorrent, try investigating the issue using ProcessExplorer (mentioned later in this post).


Okay so you'll have this one already, but non-web-devs often forget about it. Press F12 when you are using your web browser and you'll find a whole range of tools here for the web developer. From performance monitoring to browser emulation, JavaScript debugging and CSS editing. There are so many useful items in here that people often neglect.

Provides a GUI for Windows Installer packages. Not only does this tool highlight validation issues, it also allows you to edit and save the new package.

This tool will parse your Windows Installer log files to help you identify issues with the installation and suggest solutions. It beats the hell out of searching for 'Return Value 3'

A lightweight XAML WYSIWYG editor. Keep things simple.

Compresses to 7z, TAR, ZIP and more, Extracts from 7z, TAR, ZIPm RAR and many more. If you've never tried it, run a comparison between the compression ratio of 7z compared to ZIP, you'll be pleasantly surprised,

This is a great productivity tool. It'll be interesting to see how quickly the new .net compiler helps the Visual Studio community close the gap, but at the moment you'll want to be using this plugin.

Decompile dot Net assemblies to C#. Sometimes we all get a little bit nosey.

Historically the Microsoft Windows search isn't very good, but this flexible tool will quickly search for files matching your search pattern.

Another from BareMetal Software, this time a log file parser. This tool will show log entries in real time, highlighting different types of entries based on keywords.

ASoft - DotNetVersion
An easy way to find out what versions of .net are being used on a client machine. The beauty of this tool is that the clean interface means that any tom, dick or harry can use it and even download missing versions directly.

An easy to use file and folder differencing tool. Run a comparison against up to three directories for differences or missing artefacts. Drill into files to analyse the differences.

Find out about a process currently running on your system. Target processes with the cross-hair or search the running processes to find out the ID of your target process, and what resources they are using on you current system. If you didn't like the Unlocker utility, mentioned above, you may prefer this tool as a means for finding what process has a lock on your file.

Create and manage powershell scripts

And if that list has whet your appetite; checkout Scott Hanselman's list, it's much better than this one :)

All items listed are downloaded and used at your own risk. I have not been involved in the creation or hosting of any of these utilities and cannot make any guarantees over there safety. Please review all terms and conditions on the named applications and licensing before installing.


  1. Nice Simon.. Do you have list of tools that can be used by .net developer on daily basis like wcfstorm, snoop, stylecop, fxcop, code rush...

    1. Hi, Good question, but the answer was quite long, so I messaged it direct. One day I might review it and push it as a separate blog post.