Five little utilities

Some of the most useful tools out there come from the fact that developers like to scratch their own itches. While this does mean that we have far too many implementations of things like wikis and text editors, it also means that we get lots of little tools directed at developers. For my first blog of the new year, I thought I'd point you at five of these little gems. These are in no particular order; they're just tools that make me smile.

  • Style Inspector gives you a tiny tool window that you can drag around any page displayed in Internet Explorer. As you do, it shows you the CSS styles that are applied to the chunk under the tool. A nice way to figure out how the designer came up with some effect - at least if they used CSS.
  • WSCF 0.4 stands for Web Services Contract First. There are plenty of folks out there who argue that you should design the WSDL for a Web service before you come up with the code to implement it, but Visual Studio .NET doesn't offer a way to conform to this best practice. This tool changes that, by providing (among other things) a wizard to abstract away the annoying details of writing WSDL.
  • PDF Speedup takes care of the biggest problem with Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0: the fact that it's slower than a punch-drunk sloth to load. It does this by disabling a bunch of optional cruft and extensions that most people will never need. Works easily, and it's reversible if you decide you like the cruft after all.
  • BuildUtilities.NET is the brainchild of James Simmons, who found some holes in his automated build process and resolved to fill them. The result is a command-line interface to send MSN Messenger messages and a parser for MbUnit output files that lets you launch a command based on success or failure.
  • VS XAML Viewer - If you're playing with Visual Studio 2005 and trying to wrap your head around XAML (the new declarative user interface language for Longhorn) you probably want to grab this: it's a VS add-in that lets you work with syntax-coded and IntelliSensed XAML directly within the Visual Studio IDE.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.

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