Scott Hanselman

Scott Hanselman's 2007 Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Windows

August 24, '07 Comments [132] Posted in Tools
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Japanese Translation: Yasushi Aoki has translated the Tools List to Japanese! You can find it here 訳: 青木靖.

Everyone collects utilities, and most folks have a list of a few that they feel are indispensable.  Here's mine.  Each has a distinct purpose, and I probably touch each at least a few times a week.  For me, util means utilitarian and it means don't clutter my tray.  If it saves me time, and seamlessly integrates with my life, it's the bomb. Many/most are free some aren't. Those that aren't free are very likely worth your 30-day trial, and perhaps your money.

Here are most of the contents of my C:/UTILS folder. These are all well loved and used.  I wouldn't recommend them if I didn't use them constantly. Things on this list are here because I dig them. No one paid money to be on this list and no money is accepted to be on this list.

Shameless Personal Plug: Discover more cool tools and programming tips on my weekly Podcast with Carl Franklin - Hanselminutes (Podcast Feed/Podcast Archives) - "Our show is guaranteed not to waste your time. Free free to listen in double speed and waste half as much."

This is the Updated for 2007 Version of my Original List and 2005 and 2006 List, and currently subsumes all my other lists. Link to when referencing the latest Hanselman Ultimate Tools List. Feel free to get involved here in the comments, post corrections, or suggestions for future submissions in the HanselForums. I very likely made mistakes, and probably forgot a few utilities that I use often.

  • New Entries to the 2007 Ultimate Tools are in Red. There are dozens of additions and many updated and corrected entries and fixed links.
NOTE: Please don't reproduce this in its entirety, I'd rather you link to I appreciate your enthusiam, but posts like this take a lot of work on my part and I'd appreciate that work staying where it is and linked to, rather than being copy/pasted around the 'net. Also, I do believe in the Permanence of the Permalink, and I will do everything in my power (as I have for the last 4+ years) to avoid Link Rot. If you're reading this content and you're not at, perhaps you'd like to join us at the original URL?)

The Big Ten Life and Work-Changing Utilities

  • THREE WAY TIE: Notepad2 or Notepad++ (Scite also uses the same codebase) or E-TextEditor - The first two are great text editors. Each has first class CR/LF support, ANSI to Unicode switching, whitespace and line ending graphics and Mouse Wheel Zooming. A must. Here's how to completely replace notepad.exe. Personally I renamed Notepad2.exe to "n.exe" which saves me a few dozen "otepad"s a day. Here's how to have Notepad2 be your View Source Editor. Here's how to add Notepad2 to the Explorer context menu. E-TextEditor is new on the block this year, inspired by TextMate in the Macintosh. It includes a "bundle" system that uses the scripting power of the Cygwin Linux-like environment for Windows to provide a more IDE-like experience than Notepad2 or Notepad++. It costs, though, but you should absolutely try it's 30-day trial before you shell out your US$35.
    • Notepad++ is built on the same fundamental codebase as Notepad2, and includes tabbed editing and more language syntax highlighting. Is one better than the other? They are different. I use Notepad2 as a better Notepad, but more and more I find myself using E-TextEditor aka TextMate for Windows when I need to crunch serious text. As with all opinions, there's no right answer, and I think there's room for multiple text editors in my life. These are the three I use.
  • PowerShell - The full power of .NET, WMI and COM all from a command line. PowerShell has a steep learning curve, much like the tango, but oh, my, when you really start dancing...woof. I also use PowerShell Prompt Here.
    • I also recommend after installing PowerShell that you immediately go get PowerTab to enable amazing "ANSI-art" style command-line tab completion.
    • Next, go get the PowerShell Community Extensions to add dozens of useful commands to PowerShell.
    • If you're willing to pay (and wait a little) keep an eye on PowerShell Plus. I'm on the beta, and while it'll cost a reasonable fee, it'll be amazing. Certainly not required, but very shiny.
  • Lutz's Reflector and its Many AddIns - The tool that changed the world and the way we learn about .NET. Download it, select an interesting method and hit the space bar. Take the time to install the Add-Ins and check out the amazing static analysis you can do with things like the Diff and Graph.
  • SlickRun - A free floating dynamic "command prompt" with alias support that continues to amaze. My tips for effective use: read the instructions, edit the slickrun.ini file and bind it to Window-R. Also set ChaseCursor so when you hit Win-R, you'll have a floating transparent command line anywhere your mouse is. I recommend you also use larger fonts! Get to know this little box. It's the bomb. I've tried dozens of launchers, giving each days of actual use, but I keep coming back to SlickRun.
  • FireBug - Arguably the most powerful in-browser IDE available. It's a complete x-ray into your browser including HTML, CSS and JavaScript, all live on the page. A must have.
  • ZoomIt - ZoomIt is so elegant and so fast, it has taken over as my #1 screen magnifier. Do try it, and spend more time with happy audiences and less time dragging a magnified window around. Believe me, I've tried at least ten different magnifiers, and ZoomIt continues to be the best.
  • WinSnap and Window Clippings - I'm torn between two of the finest screenshot utilities I've ever found. Free, clean, fast and tight, WinSnap has as many (or as few) options as you'd like. Also does wonders with rounded corners and transparency. It includes a 32-bit and 64-bit version, as well as a portable no-install version. However, Window Clippings also has no install, includes 32 and 64-bit and is only $10. It's a tough one. I use Window Clippings at least daily, and I use WinSnap a few times a week. Kenny Kerr of Window Clippings is actively adding new features and has a nice clean add-in model on his Developers site. Both these apps are worth your download.
  • CodeRush and Refactor! (and DxCore) - Apparently my enthusiasm for CodeRush has been noticed by a few. It just keeps getting better. However, the best kept secret about CodeRush isn't all the shiny stuff, it's the free Extensibility Engine called DxCore that brings VS.NET plugins to the masses. Don't miss out on free add-ins like CR_Documentor and ElectricEditing.
  • SysInternals - I showed specifically ProcExp and AutoRuns, but anything Mark and Bryce do is pure gold. ProcExp is a great Taskman replacement and includes the invaluable "Find DLL" feature. It can also highlight any .NET processes. AutoRuns is an amazing aggregated view of any and all things that run at startup on your box.
    • A great new addition to the SysInternals Family is Process Monitor, a utility that eclipses both Filemon and Regmon. It runs on any version of Windows and lets you see exactly what a process is doing. Indispensable for developing.
    • It's also worth calling out the legendary Process Explorer as a standout and must-have utility.
  • FolderShare - It takes a minute to grok, but FolderShare lets you synchronize folders between systems, between OS's, behind firewalls. Truly change the way you use your machine. Save a file in a folder and it will always been on your other three machines when you need it. Also access files, if you like, from remote locations. And it's free.

A Developer's Life

  • TestDriven.NET (integrated with NCoverExplorer) - The perfect combination of Unit Testing with Visual Studio.NET. Right click and "Run Test." The output window says "Build" then switches to "Test." The best part, though, is "Test With...Debugger" as a right click that automatically starts up an external process runner, loads and starts your test. Compatible with NUnit, MBUnit and Team System. TD.NET also works with Silverlight.
  • Eric J Smith's CodeSmith - Oh, yes, it's much more than just a Strongly Typed Collection Generator. It's a complete code-generation engine with an ASP.NET-like syntax. Very extendable, very powerful, very affordable. And all is right with the world. I've used it to generate THOUSANDS of lines of code. There's a learning curve, but the benefits are immense. It's worth the download just for the Strongly Typed Collection code from Chris Nahr.  CodeSmith is a company and costs now, but the $99 version is worth your time and money.
  • Query Express - Wow, a Query Analyzer look-alike that doesn't suck, doesn't need an install, is wicked fast, is free and is only 100k. Pinch me, I'm dreaming.
  • WatiN Test Recorder - WatiN is Web Application Testing in .NET, and this Test Recorder will generate chunks of source for you by recording your clicks in an embedded IE browser. It makes my old WatirRecorder pale in comparison.
  • Jeff Key's Snippet Compiler - Sits quietly waiting for you to test a quick snippet of code or algorithm.  No need to even start VS.NET! Jeff hasn't updated it in a while, but perhaps its *re-inclusion* on this list will pressure him to get working on it again.
  • Jeff Atwood's CleanSourcesPlus - Jeff extends on Omar's idea of a quick Explorer utility that lets you right click on any folder with code in it and get your bin,obj,debug,release directories blown away. Jeff's includes configuration options for deleting things like Resharper folders and Source Control bindings.
  • MemProfiler - The amount of information this tool offers is obscene. We used this at my last job to track down a number of funky memory leaks.
  • The IIS Diagnostics Toolkit is a collection of small utilities from the IIS Team that make life under IIS just that much more pleasant. These tools help with debugging, tracing, log sniffing and email delays.
    • LogParser - Get to know it, as it's a free command-line tool from Microsoft that lets you run SQL queries against a variety of log files and other system data sources, and get the results out to an array of destinations, from SQL tables to CSV files. I dig it and use it to parse my own logs.
  • SOSEX .NET Debugging Extension by Steve Johnson - John Robbins has a writeup with screenshots praising SOSEX. It's a WinDBG extension that adds commands to WinDBG that really should have been there in the first place for .NET development, like !gcgen, !dlk, and !vars.
  • WinMerge - The best open-source Diff Merge Tool that I've found.
    • More and more people are trying to push me towards DiffMerge the new free merge tool from SourceGear. The merge window is pretty compelling...
    • KDiff3 is another free option with very configurable color schemas, multi-paned view, and it's cross platform on Linux, Windows and Mac.
  • VM VM Optimizer - If you use VMs, you'll want them small. There's lots of ways to do this manually, but for about $70 (how much is your time worth?) Invirtus VM Optimizer will squish the hell out of your VMs for you, automatically. I've used it with great success.
  • HightLight for Windows - Highlight is a universal sourcecode converter for Linux and Windows, which transforms code to HTML, XHTML, RTF, LaTeX or TeX - files with syntax highlighting. (X)HTML output is formatted by CSS.
  • FileHelpers - This open source library is the easiest way I've found to get data out of fixed-length or delimited text files and into Sql or Excel.
  • NirSoft Utilities Collection - Nearly everything NirSoft does is work looking at. My favorites are MyUninstaller, a replacement for Remove Programs, and WhoIsThisDomain.
    • Also check out ZipInstaller; it installs utilities that don't provide their own installer! It creates icons, puts them in the folder you want and adds an uninstaller.
  • FireBug - Arguably the most powerful in-browser IDE available. It's a complete x-ray into your browser including HTML, CSS and JavaScript, all live on the page. A must have. It's on the list twice. Go get it.
  • Page Spy for IE - I go back and forth between PageSpy and the IE Developer Toolbar. PageSpy makes it really easy to find items on the page in the HTML source. It's a better View Source.
  • WebDeveloper for FireFox - If you're the last developer to download FireFox, or you're holding off, WebDeveloper is a solid reason to switch to FireFox NOW. It's amazing and has to be used to be believed. It consolidates at least 2 dozens useful functions for those who sling ASP.NET or HTML. And if you're a CSS person, the realtime CSS editing is pretty hot.
  • Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar - While not as feature-packed as FireBug or Web Developer Toolbar, the IE Developer Toolbar marches on and should be in the toolkit of any web developer supporting IE.
    • Fiddler - More feature-packed than the elegantly minimalist ieHttpHeaders, Fiddler is THE debugging proxy for checking out HTTP between here and there.
    • ieHttpHeaders - Internet Explorer "Explorer Bar" that shows the HTTP Headers as you browse.  Invaluable for quickie debugging.  More great stuff from Jonas Blunck. I still install this one first as it's just so basic.
  • MSI Utilities - This site lists darn near every MSI related utility.
  • Telerik Code Converter - Website that converts C# to VB and VB to C#.
    • CarlosAg's CodeTranslator - One of the first, and many say, the best. An AJAXy Code Converter that'll do to and from C# and VB.NET.

The Angle Bracket Tax (XML/HTML Stuff)

  • XPathMania from DonXML - This is an extension to the XML Editor within Visual Studio 2005 that allows you to execute XPath queries against the current document dynamically. Created under the Mvp.Xml umbrella project - also a kickbutt XML extension library.
  • SketchPath for XPath - SketchPath does for XPath what Regulator did for Regular Expressions. It's early beta, but it's totally hardcore.
  • Web Services Studio Express - A nice little interactive Web Services tester, source included, hosted up on CodePlex.
  • 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!" It'll cost you a bit, but if you do Web Services all day, it's worth the money.
  • XmlSpy - Just buy it.
  • SSW Link Auditor - C#-based Link Auditor that crawls your site looking for bad links and makes a fine report. SSW has a pile (like 60) of great products. They do cost money, but they are very modestly priced. Disclosure, I know the owner, he's a nice guy.

Regular Expressions

  • David Seruyange's "NRegEx" Ajax-based RegEx Tester - An very minimalist online Ajax-based ASP.NET site, I keep turning to this via a bookmark when I want to test a quick RegEx. It'll tell me how a RegEx will work in .NET.
    • RexV - Another excellent, better laid out RegEx evaluator, useful for RegEx's that'll run in JavaScript.
  • Roy Osherove's Regulator - Roy entered the RegEx fray with a bang, and with syntax highlighting and web services integration with The very definition of slick.
    • RegEx Visualizers for VS 2005 - Roy has extended his toolkit to include Debug Visualizers for Regular Expressions, based on his Regulator code base.
    • Regulazy - Currently at version 1.01, this tool is a great way for newbies to start using Regular Expressions. Write regular expressions without prior knowledge of the syntax!
      "So you've got a problem, and you want to use Regular Expressions to solve it. Now you've got two problems."
  • RegexDesigner.NET from Chris Sells - Simple, elegant, small. A great little application.
  • Regular Expression builder inside of SharpDevelop - Which is worth the download just to read the SharpDevelop code!
  • Funduc's Search and Replace - Multiple file search and replace on steroids! You'll love it if you love Grep.


  • Slickrun - still the sexy favorite, this little floating magic bar keeps me moving fast, launching programs, macros and explorer with its shiny simplicity.
    Tell them I sent you.
    • Also available is an Open Source project called MagicWords (not updated since Feb 07) that looks similar to SlickRun.
  • SmartStartMenu - Shaun Harrington has created this elegant little application that lives in the task bar and automatically indexes the list of items in your Start Menu for quick access with the speed of AutoComplete. It will take system commands, paths to launch explorer, even UNC paths. Launch anything on your system with less than 4 keystrokes. It also adds new context menus to Explorer like CopyPath and Open in DOS box to Explorer.
  • Martin Plante, hot off his gig at Xceed has created slimKEYS, a "universal hotkey manager" with a simple .NET plugin architecture. If you've got ideas or thoughts, visit the slimCODE Forums.
    Have you ever wanted to bind something to Shift-Ctrl-Alt-Window-Q but didn't know how to grab a global hotkey? This will launch programs, watch folders, and find files. It has great potential as more and more plugins appear.
  • Humanized Enso - Unquestionably the smoothest and most interesting user interface of the launchers, Enso pops up as the Caps-Lock key is held down, and performs the command when the key is released. It takes a minute to understand, but it's a very clean UI metaphor.
  • Tidy Start Menu - If you still love the Start Menu, but you've installed everything on this list and your menu takes up more room than you have pixels, this program will organize it all.
    • Also try SMOz (Start Menu Organizer)
  • Colibri - The closest thing so far, IMHO, to Quicksilver on Windows, although this little gem has a slow startup time, it runs fast! It's being actively developed and promises integration with a dozen third party programs. It also formally supports "Portable Mode" for those of you who like to carry your apps around on a USB key.
  • DashCommand - The world continues to try to make QuickSilver for Windows and the very fresh DashCommand is a good start. Dash does a nice job of using the current context (like the currently selected folder) for it's commands. Select a folder in Explorer, call up Dash and say Zip and it's zipped.
  • Launchy - Another do it all application, this one Open Source and written entirely in .NET, Launchy binds to Alt-Space by default. This app also has the potential to be Quicksilver like if it start including support for stringing together verb-noun combos. It's pretty as hell and totally skinnable (there's TWO Quicksilver skins included!)
  • AppRocket SkyLight -this little bar sits at the top of your screen, popping down an active list of Bookmarks, Programs, Music, Web Queries and more.  It's unclear if this tool is being enhanced for future versions as folks have reported not hearing from the company in a while. 
  • ActiveWords - Arguably the most minimal of these launchers (as it can have no UI at all if you like!), but the most configurable. ActiveWords watches everything you type, in every application, so anything you've just typed could potentially be used by you to launch a program, a macro, send email, or give you Auto-Correct in any application. Check out their screencast/demos and their scripting language. It also is the only launcher (I've seen) with explicit support for the Tablet PC and allows ink to trigger an "Active Word." 
  • DirectAccess - Similar to ActiveWords in some ways, but with a fresher UI, this speedy app lets you build up collections of system-wide abbreviations for quick access.
  • Dave's Quick Search Bar - Written originally in JavaScript and now written in magic and ensconced in voodoo, this little Toolbar sits in your Windows Task bar (or wherever you choose to drag it) and supports a huge community of macro writers who've enabled it as a Calculator, Web Searcher, People Finder, Currency Converter and literally hundreds of other tasks via simple to write plugins. Very actively developed and on the web for over 5 years (that's like 100 people years). It even has a Search Wizard to create your own web searches by example.
  • Google Desktop - Google Desktop has an option that let's you use it as a quick program launcher along with fantastic search abilities by tapping Ctrl-Ctrl. 
  • Find and Run Robot - Lightweight, small, quiet until you need it. This little application allows for tunable heuristics to make it work like you think. Demo Screencast here.
  • Run++ - The only ClickOnce launcher I've found. Requires .NET 2.0. It was developed using the free Visual Studio Express!

Window Management

  • Ultramon - When an item is on this list twice, it's on purpose. Ultramon is the first thing I install after Windows. I sure wish someone would just buy this guy's company.
  • GridMove - Some how I keep turning to Grid Move. I've got three large monitors and this simple little application causes your windows to "snap" to configurable locations. Less resizing, more work.
    • ZMover - I'm not quite ready to give this guy my $15, but I'm close. ZMover keeps a small database of your applications and lets you set preferences for size, position and Z-order. Basic, and should have been built into Windows.

Stuff I Just Dig

  • DarkRoom - When I just want everything to go away so I can think, I don't just want a clean desktop, I want a Dark Room to work in. I love this text editor for getting my thoughts straight. I also use it for more dramatic presentations.
  • InstallPad - How long until someone creates an InstallPad application list containing the complete contents of this post? I dunno, but it'd be cool. InstallPad takes care of downloading and installing the latest versions of all your favorite apps. What a great way to get from a freshly paved machine to something usable by me. :) This tool hasn't been updated in a long time, but it's still cool.
  • Foxit Reader for Windows - Fast as hell. Version 2.0 is even better. This little PDF reader requires no installer and is tiny and fast. Did I mention fast? Good bye, Acrobat. Sorry.
  • Virtual TI-89 [Emulator] - Sometimes CALC.EXE doesn't cut it, and I want a REAL scientific calculator for Windows, so I emulate the one I used in college.
  • XPLite and 2000Lite - Sometimes Windows is just too fat. XPLite has a crippled free trial, but the purchased version really lets you customize your Windows System by subtraction. That means, removing as many unused or unneeded services as you'd like, creating the tiniest of systems. Great for making small VMs.
  • VisiCalc (vc.exe) - Because I just like having a copy of VisiCalc in my utils folder.  I use it occasionally. Works fine on Vista.
  • DiskView - The most powerful disk usage program I've found, DiskView integrates nicely with Explorer and includes SMART disk health statistics.
    • SequoiaView - A fast Treemap of your disk usage!
    • WinDirStat - There's a lot of Disk Visualization Tools out there, but this one just seems to tell me exactly what I need to know and it can be run without installation.
    • OverDisk - This one's stuck at version 0.11b but it's still worth a download. It's a pie chart view of your disk space usage. It runs really slow - takes forever, really - however, it's worth the wait.
  • VLC Media Player - Screw all other media players. When you just want to watch video. Bam.
  • WhiteBoard Photo - Has to be seen to be believed. Takes a skewed low-contrast, bad photo of a Whiteboard and automatically corrects it and offers up a clean white sheet of paper with a color corrected and keystoned photo of your whiteboard.  Check out the demo. Way expensive though.
  • FAR File Manager - Norton Commander is back, it is still text mode, it's still lightning speed and it's from the makers of RAR File Archiver. I'll race you. I get FAR, you get Explorer.
  • Skype - Internet VOIP Calls with better sound than the POTS phone? Free? Conference calls as well? Sign me up.
  • Cygwin - Remind yourself of your roots and give yourself a proper Unix prompt within Windows. However, it's less about the prompt as it is about the wealth of command-line tools you'll gain access to.
  • FinePrint - This virtual printer lets you save paper, print booklets, delete pages and graphics, and provides print preview for every application.
  • BlogJet - I freaking love this little guy. Works great with DasBlog, supports spellcheck, file upload, makes clean HTML, and includes Music Detection support as well as posting of Audio to your blog. Version 2.0 is even better with integration with all major blog readers and browsers. Looks like Office, too.
  • Acronis TrueImage - has saved me a half dozen times. Image your whole life. Relatively inexpensive and VERY easy to use. However, know that their support is ass-tastic.
    • If you can, think about a Windows Home Server for backup. As soon as WHS supports Vista 64, it'll be over for TrueImage for me.
  • Fraps - DirectX video capture! Exactly what you need when you want full screen video of a DirectX or OpenGL application.
  • 7-ZIP - The 7z format is fast becoming the compression format that choosey hardcore users choose. You'll typically get between 2% and 10% better compression than ZIP.
  • xplorer2 - Norton Commander-like functionality for Windows. It's one better than Explorer.
  • SyncBack - How can you not like a company named 2BrightSparks? There's a Freeware SE version as well. Golden, with a clean crisp configuration UI, I use this tool internally for scheduled backups and syncs between machines within my family network.
  • TimeSnapper - Tivo for your desktop? Kind of. TimeSnapper can't give you files back, but it'll take a screenshot in the background at user-configurable intervals and let you answer the burning question - What was I doing all day at work? Free and only 80k. Another brilliant idea blatantly stolen off my list of things to do and executed by folks more clever than I. Kudos.
  • AutoHotKey - Programming for non-programmers. It's a complete automation system for Windows without the frustration of VBScript. This is the Windows equivalent of AppleScript for Windows. (That's a very good thing.)
  • Tor Anonymous Browsing - This tool lets your anonymous your web browsing and publishing. Use it when you're on the road, or staying in a hotel. Try PortableTor if you want to run it all of your USB key.

Low-Level Utilities

  • The Ultimate Boot CD and the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows - I've downloaded and saved everything from, including Win95 and Win98 boot disks and a DOS 6.22 disk. The boot CDs are life-savers and should be taken to all family gatherings where the relatives KNOW you're a computer person. They'll expect you to save their machines before the turkey is served.
  • Bart's Preinstalled Enviroment (BartPE) - Ever want to just boot quickly off a CD and get some data off an NTFS drive? What about network access? This is a bootdisk you'll keep in your bag all the time.
  • DllFiles - You never know when you might need an old-ass dll.
  • Videroa Converters - I love these guys. They have Video convertors for iPhones, PSPs, XBox360, Tivos, AppleTVs, everything. They are all free, but do donate to them if you can.
  • DVDDecrypter and other utils -  When you just need to make an archival backup copy of a DVD.
    • DVDWizardPro - Another nice one that writes to MANY formats.
    • PSPVideo9 - Meant for the Playstation Portable, this utility is more useful that you think. It creates MP4 squished video you can use anywhere.
  • Daemon, Virtual CD ISO Image Mounter - This is the utility that lets you mount an ISO image as a Drive Letter...nice to keep a library of CDs around on a Firewire drive. Very robust. Works well on Vista 64.
  • Synergy - Share the same keyboard between two systems...I use this to move the mouse cursor out the right side of my monitor and onto the one that's connected to my Mac.
  • YATT by Simon Fell - Yet Another Trace Tool, requires WinPCAP, when you just need to sniff some packets. 
  • WireShark - Used to be called Ethereal, but it's Wireshark. Very free, and very good. I've had trouble with it on Vista, though, so if you're on Vista, consider using...
  • ...the Microsoft Network Monitor 3.1 - Version 3.x was a fine upgrade to NetMon, overhauling the guts. This is a very full featured sniffer and I've never had a problem with it.
  • ProxyTrace - Often less trouble than the Microsoft Soap Toolkit's SOAPTrace. 
  • Unlocker - Nicely integrated into Explorer's right-click menu and challenges Process Explorer directly on their site. Ballsy. I love it.
  • Process Explorer - The ultimate replacement for TaskManager. Includes the amazing Find DLL feature to find out what processes have your DLL in memory.
  • Sid2User - CommandLine Util to take a SID and get a Real Name to, for example, get the local name of the "Everyone" user.
  • Strings - Gives you more detail that you can handle about text hidden within binaries.

Websites and Bookmarklets

  • - Makes big urls tiny. For when you're emailing a long URL to someone and you KNOW they will freakout it if wraps.
  • Visibone HTML/JavaScript Reference - These guys make a great physical paper reference, but they also have a great .HTML file you can download for free that has ASCII charts and Color references.  It's a link I keep close by.
  • SQL Designer - A web-based DHTML/AJAX SQL Entity Relationship Designer that exports .SQL files. Seriously. Drink that in, then visit it.
  • - A social distributed bookmarks manager. It took me a bit to get into it, but their Bookmarklets that you drag into your Links toolbar won me over. All my bookmarks are here now and I can always find what I need, wherever I am. Very RESTful.
  • TypeTester - The very best way to compare up to three different web-typefaces.
    • What the Font? - This website will let you upload an image with a font and it'll guess (usually right) what font it is.
  • Genpass - Bookmarklets to make your passwords more powerful. Adapted from Nic Wolff's concept. There's a great screenmovie explaining how this works by Jon Udell.
  • Google Portal - It's not Google, it's and it includes movie times, driving directions, news and weather. My new home page.
  • Google Browser Sync - If you like your settings in Firefox sync'ed between all your computers, use this free tool from Google.
  • QuirksMode - Over 150 pages of details on CSS and JavaScript. When my brain is overflowing with the HTML of it all, I head here.
  • Google Maps + - Google Maps is cool, but Paul Rademacher's is synergy. It was the first great Mashup of Web 2.0.
  • XRay - This sleek little bookmarklet lets you quickly see all the CSS attributes attached to any HTML element.
  • - Take all your favorite apps with you on a USB key without installing them! All your settings remain. Be sure to get PStart, the handy Portable Apps Launcher for the Tray.
  • JSLint - Just what is sounds like, it's a JavaScript "Lint" tool that will tidy up your JavaScript and also tell you why your code sucks.

Tools for Bloggers

  • Amazoner - RoyO's applet dedicated to making it easier to create Amazon Associate links. This little. How about a Windows Live Writer plugin anyone?
  • DasBlog - Easy to install and requires no database, DasBlog runs this blog. Actively developed. (Disclaimer, I work on the team.)
    • Subtext - Another ASP.NET blogging engine based on SQLServer. Actively developed.
  • FeedDemon - My favorite aggregator. Always on the cutting edge and very actively developed. $30.
    • RSSBandit - Free, Open Source, and written in .NET. The first aggregator for many.
  • FeedValidator - If your RSS/Atom feed doesn't pass FeedValidator's tests, it's crap. Seriously. Crap.
  • BlogJet - I love this little guy. Works great with DasBlog, supports spellcheck, file upload, makes clean HTML, and includes Music Detection support as well as posting of Audio to your blog.
  • Windows Live Writer - The ultimate offline Blog Post tool? Not quite, it's beta, but it has an easy SDK. If you don't like it, change it.

Smart People and their Pages for Utils They Wrote


Browser Add-Ins

  • Urlograph - I don't know how I lived without this util. It adds a button to internet explorer that cleans filthy URLs (Amazon, Google, MSDN, Google Groups, etc) and puts the smallest URL possible in your clipboard. Not to be confused with, this util removes the fluff and makes Urls hackable again.
  • UrlKicker - If you DO end up with a giant wrapped URL with line breaks, this little tray icon will remove those breaks and launch the browser. Source included.
  • FFClickOnce - This fantastic little add-in for FireFox 2 makes .NET ClickOnce Applications just work.
  • GetRight - Downloads, resumes and most importantly, splits up large downloads over HTTP or FTP into as many as 10 concurrent streams. Great with FlashGot for FireFox.
  • Delicious - Be sure to get their IE Buttons and shiny Firefox extension. However, if you use Firefox and you REALLY want a seamless experience for your bookmarks, use the Yahoo! Bookmarks extension.
  • WebDeveloper for FireFox - If you're the last developer to download FireFox, or you're holding off, WebDeveloper is a solid reason to switch to FireFox NOW. It's amazing and has to be used to be believed. It consolidates at least 2 dozens useful functions for those who sling ASP.NET or HTML. And if you're a CSS person, the realtime CSS editing is pretty hot.
  • IEView and ViewInFireFox - These two utils go together. Both are FireFox extensions, but they are yin to the others yang. They add View in Internet Explorer and View in FireFox context menu items to their respective browsers. Great if you develop, but also great if you tend to visit sites that aren't browser agnostic.
  • FireFox Extensions - Stunning! Extensions for my browser that won't kill my family! GoogleBar for FireFox, CopyPlainText, DownloadManagerTweak, AdBlockPlus, ChromEdit, FlashGot, and GreaseMonkey.

Things Windows Forgot

  • Ultramon - Why this kind of functionality isn't built in, I don't know. But it'll keep the guy at RealTimeSoftware in business! Ultramon is the ultimate utility for Multiple Monitor systems. It's most significant features, IMHO, is the addition of TaskBars that are monitor specific, and the addition of buttons NEXT to Minimize and Maximize to move open windows over to other monitors. Great if you've got 2 monitors, but a MUST if you've got more than 2!
  • Vista Codec Package - There's a pile of Video Formats out there that don't work out of the box on Windows, or, you're only able to view them in certain applications. However, if you install the right Codec (compresser/decompressor) you can view them anywhere. Installing Codecs is tricky though, and the Vista Codec Package takes the effort of out of it.
  • AutoHotKey AutoCorrect WikiPedia Script - Do you like AutoCorrect in Word? Grab this AutoHotKey script while you still can! It's cross-application AutoCorrect. Works in any application and corrects the world's most common (English) typing mistakes. Laziness abounds!
  • Rainlender - Double-click on the Clock in the Windows Taskbar? Feh. That's so 1995. Try Rainlender instead, it's floaty, transparent and skinable.
  • Tail for Windows - There's lots of ways to get this functionality, including the GNU Utils for Windows and BareTail. The point is, it should have been included! A "tail -f" for Windows.  Great if you work with programs that write to log files and you want to watch the log as it's being written.  Also has keyword highlighting so you can see things get visually flagged as they go by.
  • Console - Tabbed and transparent, this Open Source Windows Console Enhancement puts you in control of your controls. I call mine the Hanselshell. I also modded the PROMPT environment variable.
  • CrossLoop is a nice little screen sharing system, based on VNC, that punches through firewalls, much like, but it's free.
  • SlickRun, Windows Search and/or Dave's Search Bar - Pick one, and love it. Why there isn't a floating or docked command-line in Windows I do not know. Probably so my mom wouldn't freak out.
  • RoboCopy - When COPY and XCOPY just won't cut it, try the "Robust Copy"
  • Nero 7 and ImageDrive - Nero 7 is a fantastic value and the greatest burning suite out there.  It also include ImageDrive that let's you make and mount ISO images.
  • Google Desktop - Google's Desktop Search continues to impress, although with Vista having search built it, it's less compelling today. However, it's a lightning fast Launcher with its Ctrl-Ctrl feature, a feature rich indexer with many plugins available and it is now a Gadget/Sidebar platform. It's my primary local search tool on my XP machines. It even <cough> integrates with PowerShell nicely, thank you very much thanks to its rich SDK.
  • BgInfo from SysInternalsIf you log into a lot of boxes remotely and always wonder, where the hell is this? This wallpaper tool creates custom wallpapers with all the information you'd need, like IP Address, Box Name, Disk Space, and it's totally configurable.
  • SmartFtp - Say what you like, but I've tried them all, and SmartFtp is flat-out the best FTP app out there for Windows. And they get a +1 for having a 64-bit version.
  • ProcessTamer - Beat back those processes demanding 100% CPU. Raise the priority of the process that has focus. ProcessTamer makes it happen. Sure sped up Outlook on my system.
    • is a treasure trove of donationware. Check out the complete collection.
  • AutoRuns - I always am suspicious that someone is running something automatically on my system.  AutoRuns (from SysInternals) checks EVERYWHERE that could be running something, the registry, win.ini (remember those?), the Startup Group, etc... 
  • Vista Alternative ALT-TAB Task Switchers - Check out Switcher (Bao's blog) and others.
  • SharpKeys - Do you want your Right-CTRL key to map to the Windows Key? I do. Why can't I do it with Windows' Control Panel? Because Windows forgot. Thankfully Randy didn't. Remap any key in Windows.
  • Marc Merrit's Event Log Monitor (EventReader) - Sits in the tray and pops up a nice XP-style baloon whenever the event log is written to.  I hate tray icons but I love balloon tooltip info, so it's a good tradeoff.
  • NetMeter - Clean and simple, how much traffic is running over my network?
  • PingPlotter - Graphical plotting of network latency.
  • Universal AutoCorrect with AutoHotKey and WikiPedia - Do you suck at typing? And spelling? This tool is like Word AutoCorrect, but it works everywhere in Windows.
  • Filter Files with Unknown Extensions for XP - Chris Sell's provides a .REG file that let's explorer's find files with file extensions that are not known.  A real irritant with XP, fixed.
  • Paint.NET - The Paint Program that Microsoft forgot, written in .NET.
  • PC De-Crapifier - So you just bought a Dell for $300 and it has a $4000 value worth of Crapware. Get ride of that poo with the De-Crapifier.
  • CrapCleaner (CCleaner) - Freeware app that optimizes and cleans your system's registry and temp files. Better than the built-in Windows Disk Cleanup.
  • GhostIt - Little tray app that lets you ghost (make transparent) any window by clicking on it.
  • NetPing - Jeff Key's multi-threaded continues to include new features, like right-click and launch Remote Desktop. Great for administration of small networks. I use it all the time.
  • Spybot - The first thing I install when I visit a relatives house. Seriously. Step One.
    • Windows OneCare - Don't poo poo it. It's anti-spyware and anti-virus. Sounds like anti-extended-family-support-calls if you ask me. Version 2 (in Beta) is even better.
  • TrueCrypt - I love that this is free. Create a file or partition and encrypt the heck out of it. You can even encrypt a secret drive that'll have "decoy" documents that you can give the bad guys when they torture the password out of you.
  • Magical Jelly Bean KeyFinder - Misplace your Windows and Office Product Keys?  Find them with this.
  • NetworkDriveInfo - Helps you find free drive space on remote systems. 
  • Bulk Rename Utility - A graphical and incredible versatile way to rename large numbers of files using a myriad of patterns. Invaluable.
  • PSTools from SysInternals - All the command-line tools that Windows forgot...kill, loggedon, remote exec, shutdown, getsid, etc.
  • RealVNC - When RemoteDesktop is a hassle and PCAnywhere is lame...VNC stands for Virtual Network Computing. It is remote control software which allows you to view and interact with one computer (the "server") using a simple program (the "viewer") on another computer anywhere on the Internet.
  • Terminals - An Open Source multi-tabbed Remote Desktop client. Simple and useful.
  • Visual Subst - Subst.exe is quite possibly evil, but Visual Subst is a joy. An evil joy.
  • HSTART - Just like START.EXE, but this one hides the console windows!
  • URL Bandit - Monitors the clipboard and saves all URLs that go by in the click-stream.  If you copy a 1 meg file to the clipboard, URL Bandit can find, for example, all 200 URLS within it.  Yum.
  • TouchCursor - If you move the cursor a lot, but you don't like moving your hands, why not make I,J,K,L (where you right hand is already) move the cursor? I'm not sure it's worth $20, but it works exactly as advertised.
  • Synchronex - A file synchronizer, sure, but not just any file synchronizer, this one supports local, UNC, FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, ZIP and versioning. And only $20. Oy. I use it for backing up my blog on a schedule. An obtuse scripting format, more complex than SyncBack SE, but more detail oriented and powerful. Once you set it and forget it, IJW (It Just Works.) Brilliant.
  • Visual Studio Prompt Here - Right click on a folder and get four different "prompt here" options; cmd.exe, Visual Studio 2003, 2005, and PowerShell. Dan made a new one for VS 2008.

Outlook AddIns and Life Organizers

  • Sciral Consistancy - A strange little tool with a stranger name, this little jewel helps you get those niggling little "every once in a while but have to get done" tasks done.
  • ToDoList - This popular CodeProject submissions is a surprisingly full-featured ToDo list manager. It also is an excellent reminder that useful stuff can still be done in MFC and it contains a number of useful utility classes. Tasks are stored in XML. It's a very useful tool for Getting Things Done because it encourages you to device and sub-divide your tasks into smaller, more management chunks.
  • Getting Things Done (GTD) with Outlook
    • ClearContext - Artificial Intelligence for your Outlook Inbox.
    • Speedfiler - A replacement for Move To Folder in Outlook; file your messages as fast as your can press Enter.
    • Taglocity - A learning system, Taglocity tags, filters, searches, and teaches itself about your mail.
  • Windows Live Local for Outlook - Map your appointment and meeting locations directly from within Outlook. Get driving directions, print detailed maps, find optimized trip routes, and estimate travel times. Receive reminders based on the estimated travel time. Even find the nearest Quiznos!
  • SyncMyCal - I've got data in Outlook Calendar and Google Calendar, and SyncMyCal was the easiest and least expensive way for me to get these two calendars in sync.
  • PocketMod - Has nothing to do with Outlook, but everything to do with getting organized. This tiny book is created by some creative folding and your printer. Design it and print it yourself for free.
  • gMove Outlook Migration - The things gMove does could arguably be done with a manual process, but that process is tedious and often error prone. The price was low and it worked exactly as advertised when I moved thousands of emails from Outlook to Gmail.

Ultimate Registry Tweaks

Windows Explorer Integration (and other Integrate-y things)

  • LinkShellEx - This tool subsumes the tool below with the same functionality and more! Manage all your junctions and hard links with clean Explorer Integration. If you're digging Junctions (NTFS Reparse Points/Symbolic Links) like I am, then you're lamenting the fact that Windows Explorer is CLUELESS about them. Well, no longer, thanks to Travis and his Junction Overlay for Explorer. This tool isn't really needed in Vista, FYI.
  • ExecParm - Like Right Click|'s even better with ExecParm adding the ability to execute with parameters. Everything else at this site is awesome also, including ClipName.
  • ASP.NET Development Helper - Nikhil, a dev lead on ASP.NET 2.0, created this wonderfully elegant developer helper that plugs into IE and gives you lots of insight into what's happening in ASP.NET while you develop. Want a FireFox version? Sure.
  • PowerMenu - Great little hook that adds item to the System Menu that let you change the Transparency or Priority of the current window.
  • SummerProperties - a Shell Extension that adds a Tab to File Properties that calculates the file's checksum.
  • PrivBar - This util is great if you're trying to avoid running as Administrator. It adds a bar to Explorer that uses text and color to let you know what Privilege level you're running at.
  • Preview Handler Association Editor - Stephen Toub's tiny tool lets you associate extensions with Preview Handlers.
  • Plaxo - I love the way Plaxo integrates with Outlook, tells me about upcoming Birthdays and has kept my whole Address Book up to date.
  • BrowseToSender - This little Outlook Add-In takes you to the website of the sender of the currently viewed email.
  • PureText - Ever wish Ctrl-V didn't suck? And when I say "suck" I mean, wouldn't you rather spend less of your live in Edit|Paste Special? PureText pastes plain text, purely, plainly. Free and glorious. Thanks Steve Miller.
  • BCWipe - Check out all the fine software from Jetico, but don't forget to pick up BCWipe and don't just delete your files, wipe them off the face of the earth. Very clean integration with Explorer.

Continuous Integration and TDD

  • MbUnit - MbUnit really is better unit testing and is a fine improvement over the legendary NUnit. Take a look at Phil Haack's three examples for a few reasons why I like MbUnit.
  • TestDriven.NET - see above in the Big Ten.
  • MSBuildTasks - Literally dozens of excellent MSBuild tasks, all Open Source, headed by Paul Welter. Let us thank him.
  • NDepend - This amazing app does dependency analysis on your .NET application and presents the findings as a TreeMap.
  • devMetrics - devMetrics is a community edition 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. A great way to add static analysis to your automated builds!
  • Selenium - I wasn't a believer before, but more and more I'm turning to Selenium. It's an in-browser, cross-platform Web Testing tool. Between Selenium, Watir and Watin, Web Testing has never been easier.
  • LibCheck - Highly recommended. This is the tool that Microsoft uses to compare builds of public APIs. We use it at Corillian to generate reports showing what public methods and properties have changed between builds. (Note, be sure to read this gotcha when you start messing around.) You'll need to recompile it for 2.0 until Microsoft released a newer version.
  • SandCastle - When NDoc died, SandCastle was created to fill the void. It's funky, yes, but along with the Sandcastle Help File Builder you can create very professional looking API documentation from your in-code XML.
  • Simian - Similarity Analyzer finds duplication (copy-pastes!) within your code! Great way to jump start refactoring at your company.
  • CruiseControl.NET - This is a great Automated Continuous Integration Server using .NET, from ThoughtWorks. Includes a tray icon for your developers to receive updated build information as well as a flexible plugin model you can use to extend CCNet to meet your needs.
  • TypeMock - We really started to lean on Mock Objects at Corillian in the last year. TypeMock was the most flexible and powerful for what I needed. It does cost money.
    • RhinoMocks - The best free alternative, RhinoMocks has a very clean API and extensive documentation, and it's supported by some very prolific developers. Recommended.

TabletPC Indispensables

  • ArtRage - It's free, and it's amazing. If you remember being blown away the first time you used Kai's Power Tools, you'll feel the same way with ArtRage. In the You can create some AMAZING art with an organic quality I've just never seen on a PC. If you do one thing this weekend, install it and use the "Load Tracing Paper" Feature.
  • Paint.NET - This is a must have tool Tablet PC or not, but since the 2.0 version added Ink support, you'll find it very comfortable for making annotations to screenshots. Now on version 2.7, it keeps getting better.
  • MaxiVista - Use your Tablet PC as a virtual second or third monitor! I use my M205 as a third monitor that keeps Outlook open. Now MaxiVista Version 2 is a software Virtual Keyboard and Mouse! When I don't want to use the Tablet as an extension of my main computer, I want to use my main computer's keyboard and mouse as an extension of my Tablet!
  • Wallpaper Gyro - The Toshiba M205 has a Gyroscope installed so no matter how you hold it, when you press the hardware "orient" button on the edge of the screen the system will switch to the correct orientation. Wallpaper Gyro will not only automatically change your wallpaper when the orientation changes, but it allows you to have different wallpaper for each orientation!
  • InkPlayer - Easily create Macromedia Flash playbacks of animated ink stokes!
  • InkDesktop - Write notes directly on the desktop.
  • MathPractice and Fraction Practice - Great for the young people in your life. A series of Tablet PC-enabled FlashCards that let kids practice Math with Ink!
  • MuseBook Concert - Not completely Tablet-specific, but create and use an electronic music score and sheet music on your Tablet PC. Different from MusicPad.
  • OneNote - duh, but don't forget SP1!
  • X-Think Calculator or MathJournal - Fantastic support for ink along side equations, these are worth download the trials just to see. If not, at least be prepared by downloading the free viewer.
  • Alias SketchBook Pro - It costs, but it has a very different style and goal (IMHO) than ArtRage, and the output is different in philosophy. ArtRage is largely about paint, and Alias is about pencils and sketching.
  • Microsoft TabletPC Experience Pack for Vista - Four programs that add coolness to Vista Tablet's, including another Ink Crossword, an Equation Writer and Ink Flash Card.
  • Tablet PC PowerToys - Get any and all of these, but I use:
    • Physics Illustrator - This one helped me out when I went back to finish my degree and was stuck in Physics 203.
    • New York Times Crossword Puzzle - This one is the bomb-diggity. Even the wife digs it. The only complaint is it's not re-sizable, but the Zoom to 640x480 feature of the Toshiba Tablet fixes that. The Crossword app lets you download today's Crossword for solving off line. Fantastic for the bus or train ride to work.
    • Pool for Tablet - This is worth at least $20, but it's FREE. A wonderful game of Pool with all the graphics and physics to make you smile, and it's all TabletPC enabled. Be sure to try playing over a wireless network with a friend.
    • Snipping Tool - A new tool that some folks haven't seen yet, this lets you "cut out" portions of the screen for annotation. It's the Pen's take on the traditional screen shot tool.
    • Web Search Power Tool - This is the one I wrote lo these many years ago in 17 minutes , and got $2500 for my troubles. Even more useful when combined with Google Desktop Search.
    • Music Composition - Free and it lets you write Sheet Music with your Tablet PC
    • Energy Blue Theme - An Media Center-inspired theme for the Tablet PC
    • Make your own Handwriting Font - A winner of the Tablet PC applet content, you can make your own TrueType Font out of your Handwriting. Amazing.
    • Microsoft Experience Pack for TabletPC - A collection of some of the PowerToys all packed up, including a TabletPC specific Windows Theme.
  • TabletPC Enhancements for Outlook - Outlook isn't exactly TabletPC-friendly. An Outlook-Addin, you can create Appointments and Tasks in Outlook using Ink.
  • MindManager for the TabletPC - If you use Mind Mapping software, it's even more intuitive and comfortable when the application has seamless Tablet PC support.

ASP.NET Must Haves

  • Microsoft Best Practices Analyzer - I love this tool and I'm surprised it's not used more. I think that something like this should be used as a Best Practices Repository for all Microsoft products.
  • Peter Blum's Validation And More - Not an add-in but rather a complete re-imagining of the ASP.NET Validation Framework. There's a learning curve, but it will change the way you write pages. Also check out his Visual Security Security and Peter'sDatePackage. His documentation is legendary.
  • Andy's MetaBuilders - Talk about good karma. When you put this much goodness and free ASP.NET controls into the world, you must get a lot of great parking spots. Check out the dozens of ASP.NET Controls here.
  • UrlRewriting.NET - An open source URL rewriter, implemented as an HttpModule.
  • ISAPI_rewrite - Hardcore, but once it's configured it just works. I use ISAPI rewrite to cleanly organize my links. It's mod_rewrite for IIS.
  • Web Development Helper - Enables ASP.NET 2.0 debugging with all the features you wish it had out of the box, but built into a Browser Toolbar.
  • Fritz Onion's ViewStateDecoder - Simple util that gives you more insight into what's hidden inside of ASP.NET's ViewState (hidden form field)
  • ELMAH (Error Logging Modules and Handlers) - I marked this one as new because I want folks to know about it. It's been updated for 2.0 and it's wonderful. An HttpModule and Handler that will capture and log all Yellow Screen of Death messages your ASP.NET site experiences. And it will even give you an RSS Feed of the errors! Great for anyone who wants to instrument a site without recompiling.
  • Blinq - Slightly bleeding edge, Blinq is "a tool for generating ASP.NET websites for displaying, creating, and manipulating data based on database schema." Very Rails.
  • Packer for .NET - A Javascript minimizer with a custom MSBUILD Task.

Visual Studio.NET Add-Ins

  • CodeProject Browser Add-In - A very cool idea. This Add-In integrates CodeProject with Visual Studio and keeps all your samples neatly organized. It'll download and upzip them also, and maintains a list of favorite CodeProject articles. This is a great way to build the CodeProject community and folks should now about it.
  • CodeRush - Of course. It's the bomb, enough said. Also check out Resharper (C# only).
  • Code Style Enforcer - This is DxCore plugin that puts squiggles under the places in your code that don't meet your style standards. Think of it as "Grammar checking for your code."
  • Power Toys Pack Installer - Rather than installing them all manually, this CodePlex-maintained installer gets you dozens of IDE Enhancements and sample code integrated into Visual Studio.
  • CopySourceAsHtml - Better than a Macro, this Add-In puts syntax-highlighted HTML on your clipboard. Now it supports "Embedded Styles" for use in BlogJet and other tools.
  • GhostDoc - Now in its 2.11 version, GhostDoc attempts to generate C# documentation that can be gleaned from the name and type of methods and properties. One to watch, and while it sometimes guesses wrong, it's a completely unique Add-In worth your download.  Now supports Visual Studio 2008!
  • Regionerate - This actively developed tool enforces layout and region rules on your C# code. You can define and publish your own styles.
  • DPack - A packaged collection of Visual Studio 2003, 2005 and 2008 tools. Kind of a CodeRush/Reshaper-lite, but possibly just what the doctor ordered.
  • devMetrics - devMetrics is a "community edition" 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.
  • Resource Refactoring Tool - This aids in Internationalization of your apps by adding an "Extract to Resource" option in the Visual Studio Refactor menu.
  • CodeKeep - Manage and share codesnippets from within VS.NET.
  • XML Visualizer - This gorgeous VS2005 Visualizer is from Howard van Rooijen.
  • 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!"
  • Cache Visualizer - What's in the ASP.NET cache? Find out with this VS2005 Visualizer.
  • Consolas Font Pack - Consolas is a great programmers font, and while it was only available on Vista, Microsoft made it available for Visual Studio 2005 on Windows 2003 and XP.
  • 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.
  • ASPX Edit Helper Add-In - As good as the VS.NET ASPX Designer is, many folks, myself included, like to type the markup directly. This Helper adds some easy shortcuts for adding server controls and fills in runat="server" for you when you type Server Control markup yourself.
  • - Adam Nathan continues to innovate with an add-in that lets you "Insert PInvoke Signature" from the VS.NET Editor by communicating 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.
  • SmartAssembly - Code pruning, obfuscations, and automatic exception reporting. A great way to take your .NET application to the next level.
  • AnkhSVN - Integrated support for the Subversion Source Control System with Visual Studio 2003 and 2005. 
    • VisualSVN is also a contender in this space, but does cost money.
  • WS Contract-First - Christian Weyer leads the pack with custom Web Service code generation, and generation of WSDL itself from Message-based XSD. How's that for SOA and contract-first development?
  • CommentReflower - Really detail-oriented? This tool reformats your code comments to your specifications.

Contents Copyright © 2003-2008 Scott Hanselman - Reproduction prohibited without written permission. Hyperlinks to are most welcome.

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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Make the Windows Text Cursor (Caret) Wider

August 24, '07 Comments [4] Posted in Musings
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If you like your things large, mouse cursors or otherwise, like I do, you can make the Windows Caret (the little text flashy inserty thing) wider with this Registry Key on XP:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop]

However, on Vista, hit the Start Menu and type "Ease" to get to the Ease of Access Center then click on "Make things on the screen easier to see" then (here's where it gets lamer) scroll-down.

Make the computer easier to see

You'll see "Set the thickness of the blinking cursor. That changes the Registry for you.

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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Sharpen the Saw for Developers

August 22, '07 Comments [47] Posted in Learning .NET | Programming
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George emailed me with an interesting question. Paraphrasing George, liberally, what's are some good ways to keep developers sharpening the saw - Covey Habit #7? There's been lots of talk about being a better developer, but what about the unmotivated masses? (Don't worry, we can talk about them, because, since they are unmotivated, they aren't reading blogs.) ;)

The assumption being that for every totally-amped developer who is always striving to get better, there's at least 10 developers who are saying, "Hey, it's 5:01pm, I've just checked in massive changes, can I punch out?"

Here's some ideas, some mine, some Georges. I'm interested in yours:

  • Give the developers actual set-aside time at work to read technical books.
  • Build a library of technical books at your office, and dedicate a space or room for reading and reference.
  • Host technical brown-bags at least twice a month and encourage everyone to present at least every year. (I would say even them weekly at lunch and everyone needs to present at least twice a year)
  • Encourage developers to attend a local Nerd Dinner to get in touch with other local developers. If you don't have Nerd Dinners, create one.
  • Have all your developers attend your local .NET User Group. Go one further and get them to present.
  • Create a formal mentorship program. Build it into the HR Title System. Senior Developers mentor Junior, etc. Formalize the goals for the program with HR and build it into their job description.
  • Give homework. "We're doing a lot of Threading work lately, here's some assigned reading."
  • Inspire a culture of learning. If you're (assuming you're the Alpha Geek) not giving off an encouraging and enthusiastic vibe, your developers have little reason to be excited themselves.
  • Create a Thanks A Bunch Cabinet. Corillian had a great system where peers could reward peers. Our administrator, Kate, had a budget given her by the Engineering Department. I think it was less than $1000 a quarter. She'd go and get as much cool stuff as she could, each under $25. This included iTunes cards, stuff from Sharper Image, Flashlights, just nerdy stuff. If you went above and beyond in some aspect of your job, one of your peers could reward you by sending you to the TABCab. You get to go home with a cool, unexpected free gift, and your peers get to tell you you're appreciated. It was a great system.
  • Have a real written-down Training Commitment. Your company likely has Health Care as part of the benefits system, and your Human Resources could tell you how much it costs per developer. Get an amount of money (usually a percentage of their pay) dedicated to training, where training is not just in-class time, but also books and conference attendance.
  • Let your programmers attend Conferences. If culturally appropriate, use the attendance as a carrot.
  • Twice a year, hold an offsite Company Code Camp. This was another cool thing Corillian did. We included everyone, admins, accounting, sales, everyone. We gave out an interesting problem, created diverse teams, and set them to work to design algorithms, define, write, document, and test some application. The application needs to have universal appeal, so sales and accounting can have fun. One year we did a Word Search (like the kind in the newspaper). Everyone participated and there were reasonably significant prizes.

What do you think, Dear Reader? How do you motivate, inspire, teach, beat encourage your team? 

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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The Weekly Source Code 2

August 22, '07 Comments [4] Posted in Source Code
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In my new ongoing quest to read source code to be a better developer, I now present the second in an infinite number of a weekly series called "The Weekly Source Code." Here's some source I'm reading this week that I enjoyed.

  • DasBlog 2, SubText, BlogEngine.NET, SingleUserBlog - All these blog engines are FULL of good (and bad) source. Each is a treasure trove of patterns, anti-patterns, techniques, libraries, ideas and good fun. I love firing up the source to a new blog engine as the specification is well-known and the solutions are endless.
  • OpenTheme - A really strange but truly fascinating XML-based GUI toolkit (ala XAML). The article is tiny, but the source is pretty expansive.
  • Charles Cook is the reigning king of XML-RPC on .NET with his very clean XML-RPC.NET library. However, Clemens has been causing trouble (the good kind) on the dasBlog team lately, and is currently moving our prototype dasBlog 3.5 forward with WCF for all non-HTML endpoints. He's using this opportunity to create XML-RPC using WCF (Indigo) (download source). If you're familiar with the crazy XML-RPC format and you're looking to learn about how WCF isn't just about SOAP, this is a good sample to start with. (Windows Live Writer uses XML-RPC to talk to most blogs, by the way.)
  • While browsing Charles Cook's site, I noticed this post from January about Wesner's Hard Problems, Simple Solutions post. Wesner points to a regular expression engine in 14 lines of Python and suggests this could be ported to C# using iterators and anonymous functions. Charles responds with some really interesting C# code that I'm still getting my small head around. I believe what Charles is asking for is extension methods.
  • And jagged segue...speaking of using XML-RPC on the server-side, Charles put up a sample earlier this year on how to use System.Net.HttpListener as a basis for an XML-RPC server. Both his and Clemens samples give you the building blocks to start using Windows Live Writer or BlogJet as a content management front end to your (whatever it may be) own content management system; you might also use these samples to add XML-RPC to your own blog engine...and that brings this Weekly Source Code full circle.

Feel free to send me links to cool source that you find hasn't been given a good read.

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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Hanselminutes Podcast 77 - Moving your Email into the Cloud - Google for Apps and Live Custom Domains

August 22, '07 Comments [7] Posted in Podcast
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My seventy-seventh podcast is up. In this show, Carl and I about my family's recent move to Google Apps and Carl considers moving to Live Custom Domains. What are the pros and cons of moving your life into the cloud?

If you have trouble downloading, or your download is slow, do try the torrent with µtorrent or another BitTorrent Downloader.

Links from the Show

Migrating a Family to Google Apps from Gmail, Thunderbird, Outlook and others: The Definitive Guide (ruq)
Windows Live Custom Domains Blog (rut)
Google Apps APIs (ruv)
Google Apps (rur)
Windows Live Custom Domains SDK v2 (ruu)
Hanselminutes Forums (ruw)
Windows Live Custom Domains (rus)

Do also remember the complete archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature that show up a few weeks after each show.

Telerik is our sponsor for this show.

Check out their UI Suite of controls for ASP.NET. It's very hardcore stuff. One of the things I appreciate about Telerik is their commitment to completeness. For example, they have a page about their Right-to-Left support while some vendors have zero support, or don't bother testing. They also are committed to XHTML compliance and publish their roadmap. It's nice when your controls vendor is very transparent.

As I've said before this show comes to you with the audio expertise and stewardship of Carl Franklin. The name comes from Travis Illig, but the goal of the show is simple. Avoid wasting the listener's time. (and make the commute less boring)

Enjoy. Who knows what'll happen in the next show?

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