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What tools do you consider essential in your SharePoint development toolkit?

One answer per tool please so the community can vote!

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61 Answers

Firebug! Useful in so many ways:

  • Editing HTML and CSS in-browser and on the fly
  • Ability to see which CSS rules are active and work with the box model
  • JavaScript console and debugging support (excellent for jQuery)
  • Net tab for seeing server requests and download performance
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WSPBuilder - for an easier, faster and more troublefree way to create new SharePoint solutions/features.

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U2U CAML Query Builder - who in the SharePoint world can live without this one! It helps you avoid commoin CAML mistakes.

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SPDisposeCheck - to check for any dispose mistakes that could result in a memory leak.

Good to have hooked up to a build target as a post-build step so that the build fails if any problems are found.

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SharePoint Skinner for creating CSS styles and themes for your site visually

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Slight bias here. But I can't build SharePoint Lists, Content Types, Site Columns and Module files without SPSource written by myself (@jthake) and @richfinn!

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Maybe not SharePoint specific, but I don't write code without ReSharper. Countless ways it improves productivity.

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SharePoint Manager is a SharePoint object model explorer. It enables you to browse every site on the local farm and view every property. It also enables you to change the properties (at your own risk). This is a very powerfull tool for developers that like to know what the SharePoint holds of secrets.

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I would say a Virtual PC/Environment is essential

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Can't do any serious development/debugging without Fiddler

It's a great tool for examining all HTTP(s) traffic of your apps.

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TypeMock http://typemock.com

it's the only way to write unit tests for sharepoint. Somthing we all should be doing.

http://www.qualitysharepoint.com/2009/03/options-for-unit-testing-sharepoint.html

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I've found .NET Reflector (now from RedGate) to be an indispensable tool when developing, and with SharePoint in particular. In some cases it has saved me from spinning wheels when it is clearly a "bug" or "feature" in the SP codebase, but it most cases it has just been invaluable from a learning perspective (oh, that's how that works!)

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The Reflector is actually my SP documentation! –  Wictor Wilen MCA MCM MVP Oct 8 '09 at 17:58
1  
If buting Reflector is an issue, ILSpy is a free alternative. Not as complete as reflector, but efficient to explore some obscure sharePoint components –  Steve B Dec 11 '12 at 9:11
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I recommend using VSeWSS 1.3 March 2009 CTP and hopefully RTW soon.

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Microsoft Live Mesh is a great tool to handle all your other tools. I've set up a folder that I have all my tools in and then use Live Mesh to have these tools synchronized into my VM's and other machines. As soon as I add or update a tool, they are all "copied" to my other machines.

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I'm suprised no one has brought up STSDev from codeplex. I like the way it sets up the project and set ups all the files and build tasks. Worth a look.

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A tool usefull for sites content migration: WssAnalyzeFeatures

This tool allows to verify if the feature definition files for all installed features are present on the file system. Also allows to verify if the features used in site collections an sites are installed on the server. In addition it can create a checklist file which can be used to verify if a server has all features installed required to act as destination for a content deployment job of an existing sitecollection.

Usage:

WssAnalyzeFeatures -url http://server:port

More about it here: WssAnalyzeFeatures

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I also found CAML.NET IntelliSense to be very valuable. This has saved me alot of time.

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SPTraceView is awesome for seeing errors that occur on SharePoint server, especially if it's your dev box as they happen via the System Tray! Also when you double click on tray it shows the exceptions...rather than you opening whole ugly ULS log ;-)

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TypeMock Isolator - essential if you are doing unit testing and need to fake out the calls to SharePoint

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It asked for only one product per answer but I will group a couple as they work together.

NUnit - for your unit testing. I also use MSTest but find NUnit has less clutter (VS2010 removes this for MSTest)

TestDriven.Net - great tool for running the tests and include the open source version of NCover for your coverage needs.

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@glapointe's STSADM custom extensions. The tools rock, and also looking at his code and seeing how he writes the functions helps you understand the API too!

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DebugView from Sysinternals/now Technet combined with System.Diagnostics.Debug.WriteLine, System.Diagnostics.Debug.Assert etc is very good especially in events or workflows where you cannot do trace.

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HyperV! I love doing dev work on my pumped up 2008 server where i can spawn as many virtual servers as i need with performance that leaves VMWare in the dust!

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Ehm, noone said MetaMan yet? Doint BDC by hand is such a pain... MetaMan is the best tool out there. And now also web based. (ok Nick you can cough up a with a dev license now ;-) Nah seriously, its an expensive tool, and the licensing model sux (for devs at consultancy companies that has lots of different customers) but the tool is top notch and saved me more times than i care to remember from doing tedious XML

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What? Noone said SQL Server Profiler yet? How the heck do you guys find out what goes on behind the scenes without it? :-)

Especially good when you are after better performance. A quick profiler run will find those pesky SharePoint "specialities" in .NET like using foreach instead of for loops, or the difference in performance of doing SPContext.Current.List.ItemCount and SPContext.Current.List.Items.Count, finding deadlocks, timeouts etc

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On the nerdy side, but when Reflector gives up due to obfuscation, and you just need to know what happens behind the scene, enter ildasm.exe True you need to be able to read IM language, but its pretty self explanatory, and have helped me many times. For example when i wanted to know what exactly happend behind the scenes when you use -force (bad bad practice!) in stsadm.exe operations (bonus info: -force basicly swallows all exceptions, so you never will see those other code issues your callouts or similar had)

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Sure fiddler is good, but Visual RoundTrip Analyzer (VRTA) gives you a nice graphical illustration and can also help you with advice in solving the problems. It has issues regarding virtual environments though, but a great tool never the less (thanx Spence for introducing it to me:-) download VRTA

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I use IE8's Developer Tools whenever I work with JavaScript, CSS or HTML in SharePoint.

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One app, that allows me to navigate the SharePoint folders and having shortcuts to them, walk in and out of WSP's, quickly view the content of the files etc is Total Commander.

Using Windows Explorer and walking down into the 12-hive, right-click, select open with really takes to much precious time. Using Total Commander I have shortcuts to the different folders in the 12-hive and then uses the builtin quick search to find the file and the builtin viewer program.

This is one tool I can't live without, and is the first thing I install on all machines (if I don't use Live Mesh, which contains my Total Commander installation folder).

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Another one that's not really a tool but nevertheless very handy; in my quick launch bar I always add a Shortcut and a Toolbar to the 12 hive:

C:\Program Files\Common Files\microsoft shared\Web Server Extensions\12

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protected by Alex Angas Aug 19 '11 at 7:44

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