Here is (mostly) comprehensive list of tools for development. It’s like Scott Hanselman’s, but focused almost purely on development, with a couple of extras. While you’re at it, go check his out. All opinions are my own and are not bought or sold.
The Main Stuff
Visual Studio – king of IDEs and the essential tool for .NET devs everywhere. Not much else to say except that it has a great starting toolset for any developer and amazing plugin support. The Community edition, new as of a couple of months ago, gives the masses the power of VS Professional, for free. Simply amazing and getting better with every release.
SQL Server Management Studio – it ranges from a useful IDE for SQL to a huge time saver for things like table creation and script generation. The DROP and CREATE tools are awesome for generating scripts for tables, stored procs and more, and the Execution Plan viewer can be very helpful when trying to optimize expensive queries. The Express edition has most of the tools required to manage a day-to-day SQL Server installation just fine. One of the best database management tools available.
SQL Server Profiler – for when I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly how well a SQL query is running or when the SQL that’s being emitted from Entity Framework is not immediately known to me, I always turn to Profiler. Used it to find a show-stopping SQL query on more than one occasion.
LINQPad – write LINQ queries using the best .NET code scratchpad on the market. It’s not a complete replacement for SQL Management Studio, but for complex queries with lots of data, it’s my first choice. The Premium edition is a steal and makes this essential tool 5 times more useful with C# autocomplete, NuGet, and cross-database query support. Plus, it’s great for those one-off tests for code behaviors that you might need a quick refresher on. LINQPad’s author, Joe Albihari, is always adding new features – most recently an integrated debugger.
NimbleText – thanks to Scott Hanselman, I have found this program – and my new favorite way to write repetitive code or handle small or large data transformation tasks. I’ve used it from everything from writing HTML to generating SQL insert scripts. Its time-saving power cannot be understated. And, it’s FREE!
Notepad++ – my text editor of choice. Decent plugin support, syntax highlighting, and instant right-click, edit for any file in Windows Explorer. (Yeah, I know dev-favorite Sublime Text has these things too, but Notepad++ was my first and it fits my needs nicely.)
SourceTree – an essential tool for Git users on Windows. I just started using Git (yeah, I know I’m late to the party) and SourceTree has made the transition from TFS to Git that much more smooth. Not perfect, but very helpful.
dotPeek – my favorite way to decompile .NET code, free from JetBrains. It even has the ability to break a .NET DLL/EXE down into a fully-structured Visual Studio project! (I actually have a client whose previous developer wouldn’t hand over the source code for their main application, and dotPeek made the decompile way more convenient.)
Postman (Chrome extension) – my second-favorite way to test HTTP services is Postman. Postman has an easy-to-use interface and provides a straightforward way to make HTTP requests.
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