I have been reviewing the comments and feedback questions sent after the AJAX webinar, and a question that has come up several times is, “What is that thing that you have in Visual Studio?”  I know I have a number of unique add-ins and tools in Visual Studio, and I wanted to describe the tools that I have installed for those that may want to use them as well.

  1. Visual Studio 2012 Ultimate

    This may sound silly to some, but yes, I am using Visual Studio. 

     There are a significant number of ASP.Net developers who do not use Visual Studio.  Instead, these developers may use Visual Web Express, Visual Studio 2012 Express, or WebMatrix.  

    I know Visual Studio can be a high-ticket item to purchase, but if you are a startup, a small company, or a student, Microsoft has ways for you to get a copy of Visual Studio free.  Free as in beer… Gratis… No purchase necessary…  Check out their BizSpark, WebSpark and DreamSpark programs for ways to become a partner and get access to their great technology.  When you do switch to Visual Studio 2012 from Express Web, you get refactoring capabilities and the full windows development environment.  You are no longer limited to just building web applications and class libraries.  You can also install some AWESOME add-ins like the ones in the rest of this list.

  2. ASP.Net 2012.2 web tools

    Released in February 2013, this is a tooling refresh of Visual Studio for ASP.Net. What is a "tooling refresh"?  It means that there are cool new toys for you when you launch Visual Studio.  There are great things in the box like templates for Facebook applications, single-page-application templates, SignalR bindings, and the very cool FriendlyUrls extension for ASP.Net web forms. This update will install for all versions of Visual Studio, even the web express edition.

    Check out this great video from Microsoft that demonstrates the new features of Asp.Net 2012.2

  3. Page Inspector

    I used this tool a LOT during the presentation.  This is a browser-based view of the content you are currently working with.  This is a great tool for web developers, as it gives you a quick peek at how your content will appear in a browser without having to switch applications.  Use ctrl-k, ctrl-g to activate the Page Inspector from within an ASP.Net web form.  Use ctrl-alt-enter to refresh the Page Inspector when you have made some changes to your content.  This tool comes installed in each of the 2012 editions of Visual Studio.

    Here is a great video from Microsoft showing how to use Page Inspector.

  4. Web Essentials

    This is a terrific plug-in for Visual Studio Professional, Premium, and Ultimate editions that will make you a better web developer.  This plugin will give you insights into your CSS, JavaScript, TypeScript, and LESS programming that you never had before.  There are all kinds of goodies in here that will help you work with these languages… but don’t forget my favorite feature:  ZenCoding.  I briefly showed you how I was able to generate HTML with this coding technique.  The author of Web Essentials, Mad Kristensen, has a video on YouTube showing the basics of using Web Essentials Zen Coding.

    This is a killer plugin, and I highly recommend you install web essentials.

  5. Telerik OpenAccess ORM

    I showed, at numerous times during the webinar, how you could use our free data access tool called OpenAccess to work with our AJAX controls.  Some may say that they prefer NHibernate or Entity Framework, but those tools don’t have the depth of plugins and productivity extensions that OpenAccess has.  Did you know that you could generate a FULL WebAPI controller from an OpenAccess data context?  This is way cool, and a great way to build services without getting into the nuts and bolts of coding.  Check out this demo video about how to build web services with OpenAccess.

    Download OpenAccess for FREE

  6. JustCode

    I swear by my code productivity plugins.  Every time I want to have quotes, braces, parenthesis, square brackets, anything I need to type a pair of completed, I use and abuse the tool.  JustCode gives me that, and LOTS more.  

    The refactoring capabilities are great, and the tool runs in a very unobtrusive way.  Unlike other products in this space, JustCode runs OUTSIDE of Visual Studio.  This means that your Visual Studio experience won’t get swamped with memory errors because JustCode is analyzing your code.  The tool is very extensible, and my colleague Chris Eargle has a great series of posts about how to get the most out of JustCode. 

  7. Telerik AJAX Controls

    You didn’t expect me to let this one slide, did you?  Of COURSE I have the AJAX controls installed.  From even before I joined Telerik, these were a staple in my toolbox.  The speed at which I can build great websites is unmatched, and the options available in these controls are amazing.  But you already knew that… you were watching my webinar demonstrating the great new features.

    Download the trial version of the AJAX controls now!

  8. Mighty Moose by Continuous Tests

    I didn’t actually use this tool during the webinar, but I heard some people reference the option on the menu bar.  This tool provides for the agile practice of ‘Continuous Testing”, constantly building and running unit tests to provide instant feedback to a developer.  While I am no longer actively building full-size applications that require this type of diligence around code writing practices, I find the instant feedback it provides to be invaluable.

There you have it… a list of eight tools that I showed some or all of during the AJAX webinar.  I will be producing more videos in the coming months, and look forward to your questions and comments about not only what I am demonstrating, but also how I am presenting.


About the Author

Jeffrey T. Fritz

Jeffrey T. Fritz is a Microsoft MVP in ASP.Net and an ASPInsider with more than a decade of experience writing and delivering large scale multi-tenant web applications. After building applications with ASP, ASP.NET and now ASP.NET MVC, he is crazy about building web sites for all sizes on any device. You can read more from Jeffrey on his personal blog or on Twitter at @csharpfritz. Google Profile


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