Those who read my tips for SearchVB know that I devote at least one third of my coverage to the topic of cool tools for visual development environments, with an emphasis on Visual Studio and Visual Basic .NET. With an aim of revisiting some of the best from this year in time for Yule, if not to play something of the fool, I went back over the list of tool topics for 2006. Here's a personal and possibly idiosyncratic "Top 5" list for 2006 that emerged from my half tongue-in-cheek, half-serious trip down memory lane, in ASCII collating sequence order by vendor name:
/n Software IP*Works: By design, the .NET environment breeds components to bridge the gaps between "code to use for building more code" (that is, tools) and "code for code's sake" (that is, libraries, snippets, widgets, and other source code packaging mechanisms). And when it comes to such things, nobody's been doing them longer or arguably better than /n Software (though the company also offers them for other environments and toolsets as well, including Java/J2EE, Unix/Linux, Borland VCL, and Macintosh OSX). Of its many offerings I picked IP*Works .NET Edition because of its comprehensive and masterful coverage of components to support an incredibly broad range of related protocols and services.
Automated QA AQtime 5: When I reviewed this tool in January, it was still on version 4. Today, version 5 of this outstanding performance profiling and memory and resource debugging toolset is available. A word to the wise, perhaps better stated as "for those with catholic tastes in development environments," AQtime works with developer toolsets from Borland, Intel, Compaq (HP), and GNU compilers, as well as with various Microsoft toolsets as well.
Compuware DevPartner SecurityChecker 2.5: Those who operate ASP.NET Web sites will find that this element of the DevPartner product suite lives up to its name admirably, in that it offers a self-contained and reasonably comprehensive security scanning and analysis tool for such sites.
Deux Sortes CryptoTools: Those in need of an affordable and highly usable set of drop-in encryption components, need look no further than the offerings within the .NET version of CyptoTools from French Canadian software company Deux Sortes. Made available as a native dll for the .NET environment that support C#,VB.NET, ASP.NET, Managed C++, and J#, the CryptoNET.dll assembly need only be added to project references to make its full scope of capabilities available.
Dundas Gauge: One of the best collections of gauges for developers around, Dundas Gauge is to Visual .NET environments what Crystal Excelsius is to Excel users—namely, a stellar source of dials, gauges, read-outs, and other interesting ways to grab metrics and put them into a variety of eye-catching displays. (Note: astute readers will note that I covered this product first in 2005, but because I also mentioned a beta of a next-gen version in 2006, I figured it was still on the plate for this year, too). Today, Dundas offers not only Dundas Gauge for .NET, they also offer a version that works within SQL Reporting Services as well.
Any or all of these tools (given that they match developers' needs) are likely to do more good than harm on the projects on which they're put to work. That's a credible motif to help carry all of out of the old year and into a new one, to be sure!
Ed Tittel is a writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review. Cool tools rule!