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
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!
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.