Scott Hanselman

My GrokTalk - Ten Tools in Ten Minutes

June 09, 2005 Comment on this post [8] Posted in TechEd | ASP.NET | Speaking | NUnit | CodeRush | Bugs | Tools
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They are still editing my TechEd GrokTalk which was called "10 Tools in 10 Minutes." It was a quick list of the tools I use to be productive (I'm still working on an updated Ultimate Tools List - possibly done this weekend).

Here's details and links to the tools I used in random order. I'll update this post and include the actual video as soon as it's edited.

These are just 10 great tools that I picked from my list. There are a hundred more, so I'm sorry if your favorite isn't here.

  • Notepad2 (Scite also uses the codebase) - A great text editor. 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.
  • Cropper - A fabulous screen capture applet. I usually pick simple tools that do their job elegantly. Cropper does just that and it's written in .NET.
  • Lutz's Reflector and it's AddIns - The tool that changed the world and the way we learn about .NET. Download it, select and 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! :
  • Windows Desktop Search - The betas were rough and tended to lock up, but the free final edition is tight. I can finally bring up a file almost as fast as I can think about it. One important note that sets it apart from Google Desktop Search is that the items appearing in the result window are first-class Explorer Items. Right click on them and you'll not only have all your context menu extensions, but also Open Containing Folder.
  • TaskSwitchXP and TopDesk - Two better ways to ALT-Tab and Task Switch in Windows. Don't confuse TaskSwitchXP with the old PowerToy. This one is fast and powerful. If you envy the Mac's Expose, then use TopDesk. Personally, I use both and set a cursor hotspot in the lower-right corner to tile my windows. Be sure to have DirectX9 installed.
  • Magnifixer - My ZoomIn tool du jour. Be sure that you have SOME kind of ZoomIn tool installed. I like this one because it automatically follows your cursor and your typing and saves settings without asking. It also has a nice eye-dropper for the RGB in you. Learn how to use this tool if you present at all.
  • 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 these guys do is pure gold. ProcExp is a great Taskman replacement and includes the invaluable "Find DLL" feature. It can also highlight any .NET proceses. AutoRuns is an amazing aggregated view of any and all things that run at startup on your box.
  • TestDriven.NET - The perfect integration 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.



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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June 09, 2005 20:10
I've used both, and I still prefer Dave's Quick Search desk bar over slick run. But then again, I'm always on a 21" w/ 16x12 resolution... so I have more room. :-)
June 09, 2005 20:16
I recently used SysInternals ProcExp, FileMon (and Google) to track down and kill a nasty virus and some SpyWare a friends laptop that two different virus scanners missed. Excellent tools to find out what your machine is really doing.
June 10, 2005 19:54
I never used NotePad2, but was introduced to PSPad ( ) a few months ago and love it. It's got all the features you mentioned above for NotePad2, plus things like tabs, macros, syntax highlighting, hex-editing, incremental search, and much more. I highly recommend it.
June 11, 2005 9:22
The Magnifixer download appears to have malicious code associated with it. When attempting to download it, my virus scanner immediately kicked off a warning on the executable. It was detected as Generic BackDoor.dr (type trojan).
June 12, 2005 6:31
I attended your session and learned quite a bit! Nice approach to code gen! BTW, you figure how to get TestDriven.NET to work with the later bits of the latest release of NUnit?
June 13, 2005 17:55
I looked at Code Rush and its nice but not as good as Resharper. Resharper has many more refactoring tools than Code Rush and is less expensive. That said it does not have the cool UI effects but then again do you really need them? Resharper can be found at
June 13, 2005 21:21
This is far from "computer zen" if you're still running Windows.
September 10, 2005 6:05
> like [Magnifixer] because it automatically follows your cursor and your typing

Indeed, it follows the mouse pointer but NOT the cursor. Eg what I am typing now is not shown at all in the magnify window. That's kind of annoying.. I don't see anything in the right click options that enables this behavior. Are there any magnification tools that truly follow typing and not just the mouse cursor?

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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.