New tools weekend

I have had a number of tools on my “to-do” list for a while now that I wanted to check out and see if they are worthwhile. Let’s just say that if I had got off my ass sooner and looked at those tools, I could have easily gotten to other things on my “to-do” list much quicker. I’ve seen most of these mentioned in various people’s blogs, which is how they made it on my list of things to check out. But it really doesn’t take hold until you try them out yourself.

First newest favorite tool : CodeRush. Yes, I heard the buzz at TechEd (thanks to a lot of evangelizing by Marc Miller and Scott Hansleman, but didn’t get around to checking it out until now. What can I say. WOW. So many features and capabilities, I won’t enumerate them here. Just go check it out. Makes your coding experience in VS.NET a whole different (and much more productive) thing.

Next favorite: CodeSmith. Freeware code generation tool, with lots of templates and community support. Way cool. I am so done writing tedious data access, stored procedure, and business object structure code.

Yet another: X1. I blogged about Lookout lst month, which is very cool, free, and does most of what X1 does. Basically it is a google-like search engine for stuff on your machine. X1 does an even better job, working by indexing emails, files, attachments, and contacts on your machine, and making it very fast and easy to find things that I used to spend an inordinate amount of time manually hunting for on my machine. Did I put that in a file, outlook message, or contact? Well, how about answering that in seconds instead of tens of minutes.

Another cool code gen tool: RapTier. If you just want to quickly generate a data access layer for your app, or stored procedures to wrap your tables and views, or generate database documentation, this tool will get you there quick. It too (like CodeSmith) is template driven and customizable, so if you don’t like the default output, it is not real hard to customize. I haven’t yet decided whether I will use this more than CodeSmith. Will have to see as I use it more on some real projects.

So a few hours invested this weekend playing with new toys is going to pay off handsomely in boosting my productivity. This is one of the things I am loving more and more about the .NET community – the constant growth of capabilities and tools to make the “out-of-the-box” benefits of .NET (which are HUGE compared to other dev platforms) get dwarfed by the benefits of the things you can use in that environment to do your job better, faster, cheaper, and funner.