Web 2.0 ASP.NET

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Top ASP.NET Developments Tools

ASP.NET Toolkit
I always get asked what my favourite development tools are, so in my last article I talked about my favourite Visual Studio add-ins. This time I want to talk about my favourite ASP.NET Development Tools.

Telerik Rad Controls for ASP.NET Ajax http://www.telerik.com/
This is a paid for set of controls which really sets the bar in the control suite market. It is not cheap, but if you are intending to build multiple applications then the return on investment is huge. The RadEditor, for example, literally does ninety percent of the work for you in terms of building a seriously functioned CMS. If you want to get a handle on what the controls can do check out the Telerik Site. I really love the AJAX scheduler control, I recently manage to hook it up to a Google calendar feed! The latest versions of the Rad Controls Suites Q1 2010 are now available for trial download here: http://www.telerik.com/products/aspnet-ajax.aspx

Jetbrains dotTrace Memory Profilerhttp://www.jetbrains.com/profiler/
This is a life saver when you are trying to find memory leaks and potential bottlenecks in your application, if like me have spent hours going through old code, then this is truly an essential tool. I also use it to sandbox new ideas for code and it has an estimation feature which immediately shows you the potential performance gains you can get by removing a bottleneck.
Download a 30 trial here:
DotTrace 30 Day Trial

UrlRewriting.net http://www.urlrewriting.net/149/en/home.html
This great little free dll enables you to rewrite dynamic URL’s to SEO friendly versions in your ASP.NET applications and was written by Albert Weinert & Thomas Bandt back in 2006, essentially you use Regexes in your web.config file to set it up. This has saved my life on many occasions when developing applications which get hosted on shared web hosting. So a big thank you to Albert & Thomas (who used to personally answer support requests) great job boys!

Fiddler 2 http://www.fiddlertool.com/fiddler/
This is a Http debug proxy which can be accessed either from internet explorer or directly. If you want take a hard look at response and request information and even get statistics on the performance of your pages, this is IMHO the best tool for the job and it is free. At a more advanced level you can extend it’s functionality using rules (programmed in a any .NET language) and you can set up custom requests to test the response from your applications. I use it sometimes on my ASP.NET mobile web form apps to send mobile user-agents with requests to see what is returned.

Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=e59c3964-672d-4511-bb3e-2d5e1db91038&DisplayLang=en
This tool is an Internet Explorer Add-in, much like firebug for Firefox ,which lets you mess around with the document model, locate html items in a page and bunch of other useful gadgets. My personal favourite is that You can set up custom window sizes so that you can preview your sites at various resolutions. I also use it to tweak CSS in my designs without committing the changes to the CSS file.

Regex Workbench http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/RegexWorkbench/Release/ProjectReleases.aspx?ReleaseId=406
The Regex Workbench is a cool (free) sandbox for writing regular expressions. For the rusty amongst you, it also includes a library of insertable regex codes for captures, forward lookups and character identifiers. You can run your Regexes on any text or html that you can think of by dropping it into the textbox and apply different Regex parameters (single line, multi line etc) to see the results. Once you have honed your creation, there is a simple export function which generates the proper code for C# and VB.NET, so you don’t need to worry about escaping your Regex correctly, just paste it into your app code. Thank you Eric Gu, nice job feller!

RSS Toolkit http://www.codeplex.com/ASPNETRSSToolkit
I recently blogged about these tools in detail here: http://web2asp.net/2009/01/using-aspnet-rss-toolkit-to-quickly.html
If you are looking to either syndicate or consume RSS content, don’t reinvent the wheel! It does the job and it’s free, nuff said!

Conclusion
Hope you find these useful, there are of course many other dev tools around, these are just a few of my personal favourites. In another post I will talk about some of the tools I use for developing Mobile ASP.NET sites.

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6 comments:

mathmax said...

Thank you for this post.
Here are some comments :
UrlRewriting.net : I use it but I see two bad points :
- first the rewrite rules aren't public, you can only get them by reflexion.
- loading rules via reflexion is slow so you may want to load them once the application start and store them in a application variable. Unfortunately you have to get a collection of HttpModule to get these rules. You can get it this way :
HttpModuleCollection modules = HttpContext.Current.ApplicationInstance.Modules;

but HttpContext.Current.ApplicationInstance is null inside Application_Start() (global.asax).

I use this urlrewriter though because I didn't found a better one...

Telerik Rad Controls : is there an equivalent free library ?

I think that Fiddler 2 and Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar can be replaced by the new debugging tools of IE 8.

Regex Workbench : I use the regulator, which contains some bugs but is also very good...

iongion said...

I don't know why top ASP.NET development tools should be IE related.

I use C# Developer for my C# coding, Dreamweaver WYSIWYG, firefox + firebug + webdeveloper.

And if i keep this at a minimal standards level ... it works on ie too ...

And for http debugging ... there is nothing in the world like java tool Charles from XK72


So ... if you managed to head pass "indispensable" visual studio autocompletion and mind block that vs+asp.net goes only with ie ... you can discover an entire NEW, PROBABLY BETTER world out there.

David Ridgway said...

Thanks for the comments.
I wouldn't agree on the better part as each tool has it's strengths, but of course there are many great non microsoft tools out there.

If you are developing web applications then you would be very remiss not to do testing on IE (it still has about a 26% share for usage). I also use firefox (and firebug), opera and safari for this purpose.

mathmax said...

I use firebug too, but I agree with David, you have to test your application with IE.

David, do you know other tools to rewrite urls ? Or a better way to get the rewriterules instances ?

David Ridgway said...

Some hosting companies have isapi_rewrite as part of their hosting tools, this is probably the best solution of all as the rewrites are done entirely outside of the asp.net pipeline. I have used this extensively and would thoroughly recommend it.

Shatl said...
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