8 Productivity Tools for Developing Custom Business Solutions

8 Productivity Tools for Developing Custom Business Solutions

We develop a wide range of business solutions for our clients. Which means we expect our developers to be able to work in different environments as needed. We asked our team about their preferred productivity tools for developing custom web and desktop applications. Below are several of their favorites: 

Pixel Ruler 

PixelRuler is a free tool from Mioplant. When the application is running it displays a ruler on your screen that floats above your desktop.  With a click of a button, you can switch between a horizontal or vertical ruler.  It allows you to accurately measure items on your screen from 2,500 pixels in width or 1,500 pixels in height.  This tool can be quite helpful when trying to measure items or align pictures to be pixel perfect.

WhatFont

WhatFont is a Chrome and Safari Extension.  Once installed, finding out what font is being used within any website is only a click away.  Simply click the f? icon in the browser, hover your mouse over the text and the font being used by your browser will pop up.

Chrome Inspector

Chrome Inspector is only an F12 away when using the Google Chrome browser.  This free tool is invaluable when developing and troubleshooting issues.  If you click on the Elements tab you can view the HTML and the CSS being applied to each item on the page.  The Console tab is used to show any errors that may be occurring within the browser.  The Sources tab allows you to see all of the JavaScript files that are contained within the page.  You can open each file and set breakpoints to walk through any function.  The Network tab displays all files that are downloaded from the web server.  It also shows any callbacks to the webserver.

AutoHotKey

AutoHotKey is an automation tool used to bind keys and key combinations to various Windows functions and input sequences. You can, for instance, write a short script that allows you to switch internal program windows by pressing Ctrl-Alt-1 through Ctrl-Alt-9. You could also write a script that opens a dialog, clicks a bunch of checkboxes, clicks OK, and then repeats it for a number of rows. Maybe you need to make cascading changes through multiple files in parallel and can't simply do a replace all; you can record your keystrokes in one file and then run the resulting script for the remaining ones at a single keypress.

Visual Studio 2015

This goes almost without saying, but Visual Studio is essential for .NET development. Although it is actually much more than just an IDE, it provides a text-editor with evolved auto-complete capabilities, a debugger and build engine. Microsoft has made Visual Studio into something of a tooling canvas that can hold web development tools, database development tools, ETL, and reporting tools, to name a few. Each one of these platforms can be customized with community-provided plugins to create the perfect developer workflow. And with the advent of Visual Studio Community Edition, all of this power can be utilized on development projects by individuals, students, and even some organizations for free.

Firebug

Firebug is an extension for the Firefox browser that is used to review the contents of a web page. After launching Firebug, a console is opened in the bottom of your browser that allows you to take a closer look at the rendered HTML, CSS or JavaScript for the page. You can also inspect cookies or any requests/responses that are received or sent. One of my favorite features is the Element Inspector, which gives you the ability to mouse over any element in the DOM and view the HTML and CSS that make up this element. You also have the option to edit the element in the browser to see what your potential changes may look like before making any updates to your actual code base. The in-depth look inside a website, along with the interactivity offered are just a couple of reasons why Firebug is invaluable to a developer building a web app.

Linqpad

Linqpad is a freemium utility for creating, modifying, and testing both code and database features for the .NET framework. It works with C#, F#, and VB for code, and for databases can work with Oracle, SQL Server, SQLite, and MySQL. As the title suggests, it was created to help with learning LINQ to SQL, but over the years has become a fantastic all around tool to help with programming almost anything in .NET. The newest version integrates with C# 6.0 (and all of the new features that come with it), and even provides a tree view for the Roslyn compiler. You can use it to run tiny standalone scripts, or import assemblies to test and develop ideas before committing them into a working project. It’s even used by many of the members of the Microsoft .NET team, which says a lot about the usefulness of any product.

Resharper

Resharper is an extension for Visual Studio, and once you use it for a while, you’ll find yourself wondering how you ever coded without it. Resharper provides so many functions including a decompiler, memory profiling, and unit testing to name a few. The core product helps your code be more consistent, readable and efficient with customizable rules to apply to your code as you write it. It will offer to create methods, properties, classes, constructors, and more, if you attempt to use one which has not been created yet.  It can also run on existing code, refactoring and reorganizing legacy code to conform to your rules for new code. And, the code rules can even be shared among team members, and limited in scope to a solution, an assembly, a class, or even a single method.

This is a small sample of the quality tools available to the developer community and a few that we find most helpful, allowing us to write better code faster, and collaborate more effectively with our clients and each other. For additional programming tools or tips and tricks provided by our App Dev team, check out the ITS News page. If you are interested in learning about the web applications and software solutions we build at IT Solutions or how we can assist with your custom development needs, please contact us today

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