Scott Hanselman

Scott's List of Ultimate Visual Studio.NET AddIns

November 12, 2004 Comment on this post [18] Posted in ASP.NET | Web Services | NUnit | XML | CodeRush | Bugs | Tools
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In the vein of my Ultimate Tools List, here's my list of Ultimate Visual Studio.NET Add-Ins.  This list is by no means exhaustive, but I loves me some Add-Ins, so here's the ones that make my life better.

  • CodeRush - Of course. It's the bomb, enough said.
  • Peter Blum's ADME - ASP.NET Design Mode Extender (“ADME”) helps custom controls to provide a better design mode interface. This supports his Validation Controls, which rock, but also controls that you might write that need richer Design Mode Support.
  • CodeSmith Explorer - Generate CodeSmith code and templates directly from VS.NET
  • CopySourceAsHtml - Better than a Macro, this Add-In puts syntax-highlighed HTML on your clipboard. Now it supports "Embedded Styles" for use in BlogJet and other tools.
  • GhostDoc - Here's an Add-In I'd overlooked previously, now in it's 1.2 version.  GhostDoc attempts to generate C# documentation that can be gleaned from the name and type of methods and properties. Roland Weigelt has big plans for version 1.30 that will include customizable text and rules. One to watch, and while it sometimes guesses wrong, it's a completely unique Add-In worth your download.
  • devMetrics - devMetrics is a free tool for measuring various attributes of your C# code so that you can accurately assess your product for quality and maintainability. I use it to measure cyclomatic complexity and abuse people during code reviews.
  • QuickCode.NET - This has been largely supplanted by CodeRush, but if you don't want to pay as much, this cool tool gives you phrase expansion and a surprising number of code expansions available on their user forum.
  • Mindreef SOAPscope - The original. The glory forever, this is more than an Add-In, it's a complete XML Web Services design studio. It's a bargain and works even better when setup in a workgroup. It keeps a database of all Web Services traffic, but it's more than a sniffer. It also analyzes data for WS-I compliance and allows for record and replay of messages. "It's Tivo for Web Services!"
  • NUnit Addin, now TestDriven.NET - If you're serious about TDD, stop fooling with NUnitGui and Attach Process and start using TestDriven.NET. It's a simple as Right-Click -> Test With -> Debugger.
  • - Adam Nathan continues to innovate with an add-in that lets you "Insert PInvoke Signature" from the VS.NET Editor by communiating with a server-side repository with best-practice signatures to make calling unmanaged code a breeze. Also, be sure to visit the PInvoke.NET Wiki.
  • Reflector as an AddIn - A joint effort, run Lutz's unbelievable decompiler/explorer with Jamie's Add-In support. (There's a number of other slick, but alpha-quality addins at that link as well, including FxCop as an AddIn.)
  • Regions AddIn - Finally, something useful from CodeProject, this add-in helps organize your code with a simple Right-Click -> Add To New Region and Right-Click -> Add To Existing Region. You'll wonder how you lived without it!
  • Unleash it! - The great ASP.NET deployment tool with the unfortunate name. Formerly known as WebDeploy, this Add-In lets you deploy your ASP.NET application using whatever it takes. Now with plugin support!
  • WS Contract-First - Christian Weyer leads the pack with custom Web Service code generation, and coming soon, generation of WSDL itself from Message-based XSD. How's that for SOA and contract-first development?
  • VSCmdShell - Open a Command Prompt within a Visual Studio.NET 2003 Docked Toolbox Window!
  • CommentReflower - Really detail-oriented? This tool reformats your code comments to your specifications.
  • OnlineSearch - Search the Internet and Google directly from VS.NET!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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November 12, 2004 14:04
You forgot ReSharper. That tool has simply changed my life!
November 12, 2004 16:43
I second that. I'd take the 'Sharper over any you've listed -- not because you have a bad list (it's great!), but because it is the biggest productivity booster I've ever used. It's buttah!
November 12, 2004 17:04
Scott, thanks for the props, however its "Unleash It" with a space :)
November 12, 2004 21:47
MZ-Tools is also pretty feature rich...

And here's the ever expanding list of a lazy guy ;)
November 12, 2004 21:59
The link on the blog post of the Reflector Add-In doesn't work. Could you please give us a working link to the Add-In. I'd really love to get this Add-In. Thanks in advance.
November 12, 2004 22:05
Same problem with TestDriven.NET. Downloads are not available.
November 12, 2004 23:12
I didn't include Resharper because CodeRush's "Refactor" has one-button refactoring with out dialog boxes or wizards. I can refactor a LOT faster with it. I've tried both Refactor and C# Refactory.
November 12, 2004 23:15
TestDriven.NET's link works:
November 13, 2004 0:32
No love for GhostDoc?
November 13, 2004 0:35

Am I the only one that can't get anywhere with the VSCmdShell link?! Scott, help! I tried the directory at GDN, but no love with that . . .

November 13, 2004 2:05
You guys are killing me! I'll give you the Microsoft answer: It works here! I can't reproduce.

Here's the direct link:
November 13, 2004 2:09
You know, I wasn't really feeling GhostDoc. I ran it for a week, and I found myself constantly changing what it was suggesting. The whole concept of generated documentation seemed odd to me. If it can be gleaned, how can it be useful?

That said, I see Roland has really been putting some thought and work into it ( so I'll use it again with version 1.30 and see how it goes! Thanks for the tip!
November 13, 2004 6:24
nice list, thanks very much for it
November 13, 2004 22:59
Reflector is on my list of things to try out. I'm also intrested in a related app called Refly
November 14, 2004 2:39
+1 for Ghostdoc, the most innovative add-in there is.

All the coderush/smart/* and resharper tools... they're great until you really have a large solution with a lot of code... Then these tools slow you down. Especially coderush, it made crawl. Any add-in which makes run even a tick slower than before is not worth running. At least that's my opinion. ;) (so I only use and ghostdoc, and a set of own macro's to create forloops, regions and properties. :P)
November 14, 2004 9:25
At Frans' prodding ;) I spent three hours this weekend looking at GhostDoc and testing it some of my code.

Initial Impressions
* Very nice first OOBE (out of box experience). Kudos to Roland. The opening wizard is nice, as is the option to import existing settings
* There appears to be only three list settings...acronyms, of the reordering, and "no the" words. There's nothing to set plural versions of irregular nouns.
* It doesn't seem to fill out the Return Value at all?
* It doesn't suggest documentation for classes or namespaces?
* It requires the cursor be in front of the current method, rather than on top as /// does. I found this counter intuitive.
* It doesn't appear to look at parameters beyond the FIRST parameter in methods?
* I did like it's property documentation, that's going to save me a lot of time.
* It's support for "Specified" properties stood out as especially impressive. This alone is worth it installing, in my mind.

Here's some examples of what it suggested for my code:

* Gets the click throughs for day. (good)
* Containses the specified value. (bad - given "Contains")
* Indexes the of. (bad - given "IndexOf"
* Compares the specified a. (bad - given Compare(a,b) )

If there was an editor to change these rules (is there?) I'd dig it a lot more.
December 16, 2004 1:57
I'm surprised you don't include Visual Assist X. It fixes all the things that are broken with Intellisense, it's very good at giving tooltip help, it does code-completion and case correction, and it has a very simple template insertion model. The enhanced syntax-highlighting is worth the price of admission and gives you CopySourceAsHTML functionality (but with _much_ better highlighting).
March 02, 2005 13:19
what about CruiseControl.Net

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.