One of the more fun things about being an MVP is that some companies will let you try out their software under slightly less restrictive terms than a "normal" user would get (yes, this means MVPs are abnormal *grin*). So I’ve taken advantage over the last couple of months to try out some additions to my toolset. So following is a list of tools I’ve used throughout the year and have found useful. In the interests of disclosure I’ve noted the ones I received using my MVP status; but, as anyone who has seen me speak knows, I wouldn’t recommend anything I didn’t actually use and like.

  1. SnagIt: Yes there are free screen capture programs out there, but I’ve never come across anything that is quite as flexible or useful as TechSmith’s offering. I’ve been using it for a few years now, to the extent of even paying for my own license. With my own money. TechSmith gave me a Camtasia license as well. I’ve only used it in anger once, to record the HP Smart Server Easter Egg video, but it was very easy to use. Worth looking at if you want to do screencasts.
  2. Resharper: I was introduced to Resharper on a project in May of this year. I tried it, I loved it, I bought it (shock horror, my own money again). Refactoring tools are a bit of a religion, once you’ve settled for one you try to convert everybody else. I really ought to try out the other tools, but Resharper is incredibly simple, some others look rather daunting. The only drawback is jetbrains are nowhere near a version for 2008. This is very annoying, you get used to the hand holding very quickly and it’s a major step back to be without it. Other suppliers have been quicker off the mark, releasing their refactoring tools for VS2008 as soon as it went RTM.
  3. Windows Live Writer: Fantastic blog editor and finally with a UK spelling dictionary.
  4. SQL Compare: I used SQL Compare and Data Compare a few years back and have been missing it ever since. Some work I was doing in November involved schema comparisons and other fun things for a court case. SQL Compare made it very easy. Simply point the software at two databases and away it goes, brining back a simple report and change scripts. Lovely. (RedGate have given my usergroup lots of goodies, and I received a free SQL Compare and Data Compare license as well)
  5. Paint.NET: I like free software (be it cost or source) and Paint.NET fulfils all my image editing needs, without the confusing interface of the usual free graphics editor. The fact that it’s written in C# is just a bonus for me.
  6. Diskeeper: I’ve been using Diskeeper for years, and received a free license for the latest 2008 version. I never have to schedule defrags again, it just runs when your PC is ideal. I like it so much I paid for the Windows Home Server version when I probably could have wangled another free license!
  7. GhostDoc: A wonderful free, tiny tool to automatically generate XML comments for C#. Saves a lot of time.
  8. NewsGator: More software I’ve been running for years, I purchased Newsgator a few months after it was released. As I live in Outlook I like my RSS feeds in Outlook, and Newsgator just adds so much to the experience. Highly recommended for RSS addicts.
  9. Infragistics Netadvantage: Partially this is due to knowing one of their devs, but mainly because my UI skills suck and I’d like to tart up my demos and presentation code. The netadvantage controls make this very easy. It also helps they are active in the UK usergroup community. (License received because of my MVP status)
  10. Sid Meier’s Railroads: Someone. Please. Help me stop playing. Can’t stop playing ....