Favorite Tools

This is the place where I’d like to share with you my favorite tools. I’ve always gained great insight into our profession by just learning what tools fellow developers use and how they use them. Of course, my list is not even remotely comparable to Scott Hanselman’s classic Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Windows. Still, I hope there are one or two things listed here that you might find useful.

It goes without saying that this list is a work in progress. Any and all of the tools and sources listed on this page are part of my every day work and highly recommended. I do not get paid or reimbursed for listing things here in any way.

Books and E-Books

I’m a bookworm (both books and e-books). I love putting my nose into those thick tomes to learn new stuff. I believe there’s no better way to gaining a deep understanding of technology (and other things) than through well written and thoroughly edited books, both in paper and bits. Besides, admirable typography and type setting are a key motivator.

I usually browse through the daily e-book deals of the major IT publishers first thing in the morning, all of which offer DRM-free e-books in multiple formats: Packt PublishingApress, O’Reilly, InformIt/Pearson, MS Press, The Pragmatic Bookshelf, No Starch Press, and you name them. Please note that many publishers offer free or almost-free upgrades and cross-purchases (in case you want to get both bits and paper).

I pay very close attention to the emerging field of self-publishing, first and foremost the incredible writers over at LeanPub.

One publisher that deserves a big shout out here is Packt Publishing for their daily free e-book deal. Come on, there’s no strings attached, no catch. They give away  one free e-book every day. I appreciate that very much, so thanks to the ladies and gents in Birmingham.

PacktFreeLearning

Last but not least, there’s a great list over at GitHub with links to hundreds of free IT and programming books.

By the way, if you’re looking for a great tool to manage your every-increasing e-book library, I highly recommend Mendeley with its desktop and mobile apps support and full-text search indexing of PDFs.

Staying Up-to-Date

It’s a well known fact that staying up-to-date in our profession is central to our success. I like to keep things simple and let the computer do the heavy lifting, namely sorting through all the noise out there to find what really interests me. I use RSS feeds heavily in my favorite self-hosted feed reader Fever by Shaun Inman. This also combines well with many feed reader apps, most notably Ashes for iOS.

Handy Dev Tools

A couple of years ago I used to be a regular expression philistine. Then I found RegexBuddy and have been hooked since. Today, I can proudly say that my Regex knowledge and abilities have greatly improved and come in handy for sifting through text and data whenever writing a parser is like using a sledge-hammer to crack a nut.

If I had to choose one and only one tool to accompany Visual Studio on my computer, it would definitely be LINQPad by Joseph Albahari. It’s the best tool a .Net developer can invest in (besides Resharper, that is): A blazing-fast .Net scratch pad, SQL Server Management Studio replacement, script editor and so much more. Thank you, Joseph, for developing such an awesome product.

Working a lot on REST APIs? Then you must use Postman, the super-nifty Swiss army knife of REST development, automation, testing and organization. Hint: Use the sync function to sync templates, settings and environments among team members.

 

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