7 free tools for the Hobbyist .NET developer

I do some software development at home where I do not have the benefit of commercial software (i.e. Visual Studio Pro). Over the years I collected several open source/free tools that help me develop my pet projects.


[Tools required, part 1/mariusm]


The following is a short list of the tools I use all are free and most are open source:

  1. #Develop– This free open source IDE never cease to amaze me, weighing only 18MB it can pull his weight and has most the functionality that the commercial alternative (Visual Studio) has. It can even do some things that even Visual Studio doesn’t do for example it has code conversion (C#/VB)  and full NUnit integration. You can read more about #Develop here.
  2. Visual Studio Express – The other IDE I use when I’m not at work. When I’ve started writing code at home I had some difficulties getting used to a new IDE, like most .NET developers I’ve used Visual Studio at work and found the express editions a suitable solution for my home development. Although I find its many restrictions a bother I still use it because it has the same shortcuts and editing abilities I’m so used to from my day job.
  3. NUnit  – My unit testing framework of choice. I’ve used several unit testing frameworks over the years but I keep coming back to NUnit. It’s easy to use and has full integration with my IDE (see 1).
  4. TortoiseSVN for source control – Right now I use SubVersion for my source control needs. The free code hosting sites I’m using (CodePlex & Assembla) have subversion integration that I manage using this excellent client - It is as simple as pressing the left mouse button.
  5. .NET Reflector – The tool I didn’t know I needed until I’ve started using it. I use Reflector to investigate 3rd party .NET assemblies and check how certain feature of the .NET CLR are implemented at compiler level. If you do not know what it is try it!
  6. TestDriven.NET – If you have Visual Studio (not Express) installed you must check this Add-on. It adds integration with NUnit, NCover and several other tools. Needless to say this tool is free for personal use.
  7. Log4Net – Part of the Apache logging solution. I’ve used it at several companies I’ve worked at. It’s free and easy to use. If you need a logging solution for a .NET project you can’t go wrong using log4net.

Of course this is not a complete list. There are many other free .NET tools out there and I’m sure I missed most of them, if you have a free tool you’re using and you want other developer know about it - Write a comment telling how it helps you write better code.

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