Sep 062009

Recently, Scott Hanselman has released his notorious tools list for 2009 here at I want to amend his list and add some of the tools that I use for day-to-day work.

Windows & multimedia utilities

Here is stuff that I use for normal Windows operations, multimedia etc.

  • IZarc – I actually like this more than 7zip because of it’s GUI. It “knows” the same archive formats as 7zip and it is very fast.
  • Total Commander – This is one of the most used and useful tools out there. For those that don’t know it (what planet do you live on?), TC is a Windows file manager similar to Norton Commander. It offers two-pane file system navigation, basic copy/move/rename operations (that can be moved in the background or queued), multiple file renaming, file comparison, viewer and editor integration and way more. If you don’t have it already, go try it, it has a very large list of features (and add-ins) that will cover all your file & folder manipulation needs. I have tried several alternatives, but none compare with Total Commander.
  • cdrtools frontend – A free, open source front-end for all the Linux command line CD/DVD writing tools. It is simple to use and offers all functionality that commercial packages provide (Data CD/DVD & Audio CD writing, creating and writing CD images, Video CD writing etc.). I particularly like it because it’s very light and only does what it’s supposed to do. Most commercial packages (like Nero or Roxio) have become very bloated for me and I don’t use them anymore. If you feel the same, then cdrtools offers you a great alternative.
  • AIMP – A free alternative to Winamp. Same as with Nero, Winamp has become a very big and bloated application. In the end I just need something to listen to music, and AIMP is great for this. Designed as a Winamp clone, it offers more features in some areas (like playlist management), it’s very easy to use and has a very low memory footprint.
  • FastStone Image Viewer – One of the best image viewers out there. It supports a lot of image formats (couldn’t find an unsupported one yet), has basic image manipulation features (crop, resize, adjust colors etc.) and also has support for batch file processing. It also features an easy to use screen capture utility.
  • GOM player – A very nice video player which automatically downloads necessary codecs. It has a lot of options for tweaking the videos you watch and a feature that I particularly like is that it automatically loads similar files from the same folder. This is very useful when watching a TV series and it loads all other episodes from the same folder.
  • The GIMP – An alternative to Adobe Photoshop. It is not as advanced or easy to use as Photoshop, but you can get simple things done with it. It features multi-layer image editing, a lot of effects and brushes.
  • Exact Audio Copy – This is a CD ripping tool that supports output to WAV, FLAC or MP3.
  • CUE Splitter – A tool that splits a single audio file into tracks based on information in a CUE file.
  • Audio Grabber – A free application for ripping and most important Line in sampling. I use it all the time for recording mixes or live performances.

Development tools

  • Reflector – This is invaluable to any .NET programmer. It allows you to dig inside assemblies and view their source code. Sometimes this is the only way to accomplish things.
  • CodeRush Express – This is also mentioned on Scott Hanselman’s list but I think it really deserves to be mentioned again. With every version it becomes better and better and it just fills all the missing spots in the Visual Studio IDE. The paid edition offers even more functionality, but even with the free one, you can boost your productivity many times.
  • GhostDoc – This small Visual Studio Add-in is a gem. You can provide documentation for your code with two clicks. The documentation is generated by analyzing your method or property names, which means that most of the time you need to hand edit it. Still it is a huge timesaver and if you follow correct coding rules, you can minimize the hand editing effort.
  • FXCop – Provided by Microsoft, it is a free add-in that checks your code at compile time for various issues that affect performance, security and other areas.
  • StyleCop – The complement for FXCop, it checks your code at compile time for coding standards violations. This is very useful for actively imposing a coding standard to your team.
  • NArrange – This is a helper tool which beautifies your source code. There are other alternatives (like Regionerate) out there, but the nice thing about NArrange is that the result is StyleCop compliant. This is very useful especially when introducing StyleCop on a very large project because you can quickly eliminate 80% of the violations. Both tools can be customized to impose your own coding standard.
  • NUnit – one of the oldest unit testing tools for the .NET platform. It’s simple and easy to learn and I use it in my testing projects. There are alternatives out there (including the Visual Studio unit testing components), but I like that I can use NUnit without Visual Studio and it is free.
  • Moq – A very nice mocking framework. At the beginning I was oscillating between Rhino Mocks and Moq, but I couldn’t use Rhino Mocks for mocking (or is it moqing :D) methods that received Action or Function arguments. Moq provides a nice fluent interface and it is very very easy to use. I recommend also checking out Rhino Mocks, since that is also a very good mocking framework.
  • StructureMap – IoC/DI is a very common buzzword. From all IoC/DI frameworks I’ve tried, I like  StructureMap the most. It provides a lot of ways for registering and resolving dependencies and one feature that I use a lot is the possibility of managing the object lifetime.
  • VScommands – Free add-on for Visual Studio that allows you to group files together.
  • Subversion, TortoiseSVN and Visual SVN Server – This is really indispensable in my day-to-day work. Subversion keeps track of your code files, allows you to share them with your team and to version them. TortoiseSVN is the front-end GUI for Subversion, while Visual SVN Server is a very easy way to setup your Subversion server on the Windows platform.

Browsers, addins and extensions

I mostly use FireFox for web browsing and sometimes Google Chrome or Internet Explorer. So this will cover mostly my addins for FireFox:

  • ColorZilla – Color picker tool useful for web development
  • Dafizilla Table2Clipboard – Firefox doesn’t copy HTML tables correctly for pasting in Word. This add-on fixes this issue.
  • Delicious Bookmarks – This is one of my favorites add-ins. It allows you to save your bookmarks in Delicious. Now you can also tweet your bookmarks.
  • DownThemAll – A very good download manager for FireFox. It allows you to choose different download destinations and replaces the default basic download manager that comes with Firefox.
  • Firebug – Indispensable if you do web development. It allows you to view all details of the current page (network traffic, request/response headers, response content, cookie information, JavaScript information & debugger). Also you can use the YSlow extension to find performance issues in your website.
  • IE Tab – Useful if you need to do cross-browser tests.
  • LastPass – This is an add-on which saves your passwords in an online storage. The passwords are encrypted using 256 bits encryption.
  • MeasureIt – Add-on for measuring elements on web pages.
  • Web Developer toolbar – Adds various web development tools (such as disable JavaScript, disable cache, etc.)

While this list is not exhaustive I hope it is useful for somebody out there. Let me know if you know/use more cool tools.