10 Essential SharePoint Developer Tools

#10 XML Notepad 2007

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Why You Need It

  • Perfect for editing large XML files such as List Definitions, Site Definitions (onet.xml) and large XML feature files (Content Types, Site Columns, etc)
  • Great support for expanding / collapsing nodes
  • Good for testing XSL transformations

#9 Fiddler2


Why You Need It

  • Debugging web requests
  • Helpful in finding resources associated with access denied issues
  • Easy to identify web response codes such as 200, 400, etc

#8 Application Pool Manager v2


Why You Need It

  • Warms up Application Pools after developer based IIS Resets
  • Reset IIS / WSS Admin Service, WSS Timer Service all from the system tray
  • Quick access to Restart Application Pool rather than always performing IIS Reset (increases developer productivity)

#7 SharePoint Solution Installer


Why You Need It

  • Provide an MSI like installer for SharePoint Solution Packages
  • Allows the client to perform a “Next, Next, Next” like installation with a very professional feel
  • Installer can be created as part of the Visual Studio build process

#6 .Net Reflector


Why You Need It

  • Disassemble SharePoint or 3rd party assemblies to determine how something is done, find integration hooks and discover best practices
  • Can be used to quickly discover the PublicKeyToken on a compiled assembly
  • Good to verify that code is being obfuscated correctly

#5 Rapid Tools


Why You Need It

  • Save hours of time due to no more “Unknown Error” messages (This is the only feature I’ve personally used but it’s worth it’s weight in gold)
  • Other functionality such as SPDeploy to allow remote WSP deployment
  • Provisioning Framework will help script the build of SharePoint Assets (Sites, Webs, Pages, Files, etc)… good for generating sample data

#4 SP Visual Dev


Why You Need It

  • Create complex SharePoint features using a Wizard-like interface
  • Automatically keep project files in sync with SharePoint hive files to reduce unnecessary builds
  • Very nice code generation of event handlers, web part source, etc

#3 SharePoint Manager 2007


Why You Need It

#2 FireBug / IE Developer Toolbar


Why You Need It

  • Quickly interogate HTML structure of SharePoint pages for branding and testing
  • Javascript debugging
  • CSS style viewer that determines which styles are being overridden and which CSS file each style is sourced from (very helpful in overriding core css styles)

And last but not least the number 1 tool every developer should have! WSP Builder


Why You Need It

  • Automatically generate solution manifest.xml, ddf files and WSP files based on folder hierarchy
  • Automate WSP creation using Visual Studio post build actions and WSPBuilder.exe
  • Follow best practices by deploying all SharePoint customizations via WSP’s
  • Not the flashiest of the tools but definitely the biggest time saver
I'm a public speaker and the Chief SharePoint Architect for Eastridge, a Microsoft Gold Partner specializing in SharePoint and custom application development in Winston-Salem, NC. I focus on the SharePoint platform with a specialty in Information Architecture, Publishing and Best Practices.

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