Visual Studio Add-ins

[Edited Feb 2011]

Visual Studio Add-ins in my Development Toolkit

I am often asked what my favourite development tools are, so I thought I’d write down a few that I use and why. I have split this list in 2 as some of these are Visual Studio Add-ins and others are just standalone applications here are the Visual Studio Add-ins. Each Visual Studio Add-in is also compatible with Visual Studio 2010.

Visual Studio Add-in List

1. Jetbrains Resharper 5
This Visual Studio add-in does not work with Visual Studio Express editions so if you don’t have VS standard or above, then move to the next one. If you do however, this really is one of the best productivity enhancing tools out there. At its simplest the intellisense enhancements alone are worth the money and in my book are far superior to the out of the box VS version. Add to that the visual highlighting of problematic code, recommendations for best practices coding and cross solution code cleanup and you have a formidable tool for ensuring the quality of your code and speeding up the development process. You can also take it to the next level and create your own surround with templates and keyboard shortcuts. Resharper also rocks when you want to to run NUnit tests, it ads a bunch of context commands for Unit testing and runs a modal window so that you can visually se the tests running (and hopefully passing!) in fact I would be lost without it  Visual Studio 2010 will be released in just a few days and Resharper 5 will also be released at the same time, Resharper 5 gives much more ASP.NET support, including a Html viewing window which makes it ultra easy to navigate through complex pages, also there is additional MVC support, my experience with the RC is that it is faster than ever and I really like the enhanced Intellisense for ASP.NET and cutting edge Unit testing integration. You can download a 30 day Trial of ReSharper 5 here:
Resharper 5 30 Day Trial

2. Ghost doc
This add-in takes the pain out of generating documentation by allowing you to quickly add comments to your methods and properties. It is customizable so you can set up the way you want the comments to appear and there are versions for VS2003,2005,2008 and 2010. It is free as well so big ups to Roland Weigelt for this great tool.

3. DotTrace
As great as managed code is and as seasoned we become as programmers we will always come across issues with code and performance. I for one have spent days trying to lock down a performance issue that was taking an application down. DotTrace performance has literally saved my life on one than one occasion. As soon as your app is profiled you can immediately see where the problems are, rather than scraping about in the dark. Finding a memory leak without DotTrace is like finding the needle in the proverbial haystack!

4. Visual NDepend
You ever have that feeling where you're not sure if you're awake or still dreaming? If you will excuse the matrix reference, this excellent Visual Studio Add-in developed by Patrick Smacchia Microsoft MVP, answers many questions that I find myself asking or being asked at dev meetings. How good is my code? NDepend visually shows you exactly where your weak links are and for Lead Developers and CTO’s offers metrics and a ultra cool querying interface. NDepend is also invaluable if you want to plan a major refactor or to assert design rules. At it’s most basic you get a pat on the back and the feeling that you have written some decent code (or not as the case may be!), but the more you dig into it and see how deep the rabbit hole goes (apologies for another blatant Morpheus quote!) the more valuable it becomes. This is a big picture tool specifically designed to make the big picture easy to understand.

Next time I will list the other standalone dev tools I use regularly.