Stack OverflowSoftware worth buying
[+61] [68] Dustin Getz
[2008-11-07 22:37:33]
[ software-tools ]

What software products do you use at work that cost money and are totally worth it? Anything from dirt cheap (regex buddy) to expensive (Rational Purify). I'm at windows shop. My manager asked me what tools we might need next year.

Anything from development related tools, to productivity tools, to software that just makes you happy. We already have MSDN.

(1) You say you have MSDN so you already have development tools, OS's, database, testing, and source control covered. How can we tell you what tools you need to buy unless you tell us SPECIFICALLY what you plan on doing? Your question is waaaaaay to vague. - BoltBait
I agree, more specifics here would go along way. - James McMahon
(11) I should raise RegexBuddy's price! :-) - Jan Goyvaerts
[+66] [2008-11-07 22:42:19] Gulzar Nazim

Resharper [1] addin to Visual Studio


(6) Once you go Resharper you never go back. - kjgilla
agreed. The only issue I have is that it throws out of memory exceptions all the time. - Jon
(1) You need a meaty machine to handle it, but it is well worth the cost. - Steve Cadwallader
[+56] [2008-11-07 22:41:20] Sergio Acosta

One of my favorites is Beyond Compare [1] It is a very fast and feature rich file and folder comparison tool, including 3-way merge and compare.

I can't imagine developing on the windows platform without it.


(1) Beyond Compare does FTP well, so it's even useful if you're developing on headless Unix boxes from Windows-land. +1 - Greg Hewgill
Best comparison tool in the world :) - Yuval Adam
AMEN! Beyond Compare is BY FAR the best and most useful programmer's tool EVER. Although this may be because, I use it every day and it's incredibly cheap at about $40. - Randy Stegbauer
+1, I just downloaded the trial of this, and I'm already blown away. - Nick Lewis
It's great on Linux as well! Also, does FTP, SFTP. I love it simply because its an easy way to check a folders file size (by recursively checking files/folders underneath) from a specific folder when doing an FTP/SFTP connection. That reason alone would be worth buying it. - Brian
[+41] [2008-11-07 22:43:41] Scott Langham

Microsoft Visual Studio - integrated development environment

(1) I've looked at a lot of free IDEs, and none of them come close to comparing to VS.Net. - Kibbee
(5) If he has MSDN, then he already has VS, it's included. - Bratch
[+27] [2008-11-07 22:39:03] Greg Hewgill

An issue tracker such as FogBugz [1] or Jira [2].


I'd go with FogBugz before Jira - but that's just me. I tried both for a month (each). - AnonJr
(1) Trac is nice too. - Vilx-
(2) Yes, but you don't have to buy Trac. :) - Greg Hewgill
+1 for JIRA, (no experience with FogBugz unfortunately). - Brian
[+26] [2008-11-07 23:13:55] Terry Donaghe

I strongly, strongly suggest using Subversion [1] for source control over anything provided by Microsoft. I know of several very large MS shops using it. Best of all, it's free and with Tortoise [2] (also free) there's great integration for Windows and Visual Studio [3]!


I would recomend VisualSVN over ankh - loraderon
(7) cant buy free stuff? ;( - Daniel Magnusson
The integration is much better for XP than Vista (and presumably 7), unfortunately. In XP, we had Windows Explorer columns for TortoiseSVN fields. - David Thornley
(1) I recommend Mercurial once the third-party package support gets a bit better. Remote and local repositories are wonderful. - Brian
[+24] [2008-11-07 22:39:58] Aaron Fischer

Visit Scott Hanselman's


Yeah Scott has THE list. - Pascal Paradis
(3) Link should point to . The above is the '07 list, which has been superseded by the '09 list. - Gabe Moothart
[+21] [2008-11-07 22:44:35] Dashogun

I use an addin for Visual Studio called Visual Assist X ( [1]). It does a much better job at auto-completion than the default Intellisense. It also does refactoring and extra syntax highlighting.


and code navigation :-D - peterchen
But I have had bad experience for really big project. I needed to desinstall it :-( - user35978
@pheze I used Visual Assist X on a project with 45,000 files across 20 projects in 1 solution, and never had any problems. - Aaron
I agree with Aaron, as long as you set up the project directories correctly you shouldn't have a problem. Even if you do, you can always clear the cache and reindex everything. Generally, if something doesn't come up right or at the wrong time, I've had an error on the previous line. - Dashogun
[+20] [2008-11-07 22:51:08] Gulzar Nazim

SQL compare [1] from Red Gate for comparing and synchronizing DB Schemas


[+17] [2008-11-07 22:57:13] Kwang Mark Eleven

In a situation like yours, i.e. finding out what tools should be budgeted for next year, the best approach is:

  1. Examine how your shop is developing software

  2. Identify the "pain points" in the way your shop develops software (for example: "Source code control is a pain," "Deployment to production is a pain," etc)

  3. Focus on the tools that will be useful and then prepare a list. Don't waste your time an money on anything that is not a pain point.

With the list in your hand, you can repeat your question in a more useful fashion, for example: "What deployment tool is worth buying for a Windows shop?"

Good luck!

[+15] [2008-11-09 01:20:38] community_owned

Total commander, for sure.

It's a replacement to windows' "file explorer", with integrated viewers, seemless ftp integration, seemless archive integration (e.g. you can just drill down into arj, zip, msi, iso, as if it were yet another directory), tons of useful plugins, much better performance of explorer, better exception handling (e.g. while copying lots of files of which some are dups), tabbed interface, (all your locations are accessible and remembered for next time) integrated command line tool, much more customizable than other file explorers, full and consistent keyboard shortcuts

i can't imagine using Windows without it. i heard there's a linux equivalents (like mc for terminals, and krusader), i used norton commmander on the DOS, then FAR, then Volkov commander)

p.s. i don't agree with "@Kwang Mark Eleven". there are many "blind spots" that aren't getting any attention by people because of lack of awareness to the fact that "things could've been better, if we just used X"

p.s. 2 i am not affiliated with total commander

(2) I would pay 10 times its price, it is one of the programs that I just can't work without. - Edan Maor
[+14] [2008-11-07 22:40:26] Scott Langham

Everything you get with an MSDN subscription.

yes, thankfully we have that :) - Dustin Getz
[+14] [2008-11-07 23:17:06] Maudite

UltraMon if you have multiple monitors

(1) - Dustin Getz
[+11] [2008-11-28 01:16:24] David Pokluda

Tools I use regularly (not development):


These are the tools that I currently use regularly and I strongly recommend them to others to consider. By buying tools you gain more (in performance) than you pay in licenses.


(1) Araxis Merge is indeed awesome, though the price isn't very affordable. - Pavel Minaev
I tried the trial for Acronis. So much bloat. It wanted THREE exes to run on startup, AND a service. Plus all my drives span up and clicked madly even 1 minute after running the program for the first time. Any program that feels it needs to index everything isn't worth having. I uninstalled it within minutes. Perhaps the non-trial version is better. - RJFalconer
+1 for EditPad, FireFox, Acronis True Image Home is a let-down. I cant figure out what features it offers that the built-in Windows 7 backup utility doesn't already offer. - Brian
[+11] [2008-11-30 13:49:33] mattruma

If you use Linq ... then an activated version of LinqPad [1] is a must!



+1 This has replaced SnippetCompiler for me - Gabe Moothart
[+9] [2008-11-07 22:45:40] Scott Langham

A profiler appropriate for the language you use, such as Ants Profiler Pro:

[+9] [2008-11-07 23:32:20] Charles Bretana

I really like ReSharper.

For SQL Server work I use RedGate SQL Compare a lot.

For report formatting, Data Dynamics Active Reports.Net is a great tool that integrates completely with Visual Studio, uses C# and, and is extremely powerful and scaleable.

[+9] [2008-11-08 02:10:50] Perry Pederson

I can't live without "RegEx Buddy [1]", which is excellent for creating and debugging regular expressions. It will show you, token by token, what the RegEx is testing for, allows you to run test cases from all different sources, has an awesome built-in tutorial/lessons for RX's, and has "grep" like feature to scan through all (or specified) files recursively to either find or find-and-replace strings.


[+8] [2008-11-07 22:45:14] Gulzar Nazim

DevExpress especially the winforms Grid control [1]


Highly recommend the complete package. They do it all. - TheCodeMonk
[+8] [2008-11-07 22:54:29] David Arno

Programs I consider worth paying money for:


Paint.Net does a reasonable immitation of many of Paint Shop Pro's features, and it is free. - Kramii
@Kramii, that is a fair point. Maybe I wasted my money then ;) - David Arno
[+6] [2008-11-07 23:14:31] paxdiablo

I do a lot of demos for the sales force and I couldn't live without Camtasia. It makes demo creation and editing very easy.

Almost everything else is free, either GPL'ed or created by my employer IBM, so there's a lot of software we get to use without paying.

[+6] [2008-11-07 23:16:18] Maudite

eTextEditor [1] or Sublime Text [2]


+1 for Sublime Text. Absolutely worth it. - Jakobud
[+5] [2008-11-07 22:43:29] kasperjj

TextMate and TaskPaper

+1 for TextMate. Great piece of software! - mipadi
(4) How will Textmate help him in a windows shop ? - ldigas
(2) @Idigas: well, if price is no object, then you just have to include the cost of a Mac. - TokenMacGuy
[+4] [2008-11-07 23:00:45] Can Berk Güder

TextMate [1] and Transmit [2]. They're worth every single penny.


Hmm, you're right. I must have missed that part. - Can Berk Güder
[+3] [2008-11-07 22:43:06] Greg Hewgill

For the upper end of the scale, I'd love to be in a position to use Coverity [1].


[+3] [2008-11-07 23:55:12] Kasper

I like FinalBuilder [1] for build automation a lot as I don't like messing around with the NAnt xml files.


[+3] [2008-12-18 16:57:59] Patrick from NDepend team

NDepend [1] that comes with unique features:
- Code Query and Rule over LINQ (CQLinq)
- Compare Builds
- 82 code metrics
- Manage Complexity and Dependencies
- Detect Dependency Cycles
- Harness Test Coverage Data
- Enforce Immutability and Purity
- Warnings about the health of your Build Process
- Generate custom report from your Build Process
- Diagrams
- Facilities to cope with real-world environment


[+2] [2008-11-07 22:43:19] Cristian Libardo

Resharper [1]


we used a C++ refactorer w/ vs2005 once, it froze visual studio and made intellisense sluggish. is this fixed? - Dustin Getz
I haven't had the problem with resharper. - Sara Chipps
[+2] [2008-11-07 22:52:20] Scott Langham

To prevent colleagues who listen to music leaving their headphones blaring when they wander away from their computer.

[+2] [2008-11-07 22:54:09] Bjarke Ebert

010 Editor [1] - a binary file viewer and editor. It supports very flexible configuration (almost programming) of structured binary file formats.

Faststone Capture [2] - very nice and easy to use screen shot software

Xplorer2 [3] - replacement for Windows Explorer. I guess everyone has their own favorite "Norton Commander clone". Mine is Xplorer2.


[+2] [2008-11-07 23:00:36] Gulzar Nazim

DisKeeper [1] for defrag..


[+2] [2008-11-08 01:39:12] Chris Rauber

+1 to Beyond Compare

If you run virtual machines, VMware [1] is well worth its price.

This isn't really a developer tool, but I rip all my DVDs to my Windows Home Server. I use AnyDVD [2] to unlock the copy protection so I can rip the DVDs that I actually paid for.


[+2] [2008-11-08 02:28:18] Tim Tonnesen

If you're a .NET developer with Resharper and SVN and continuous integration, you will definitely want VisualSVN [1].

You'll never check in forgetting to add a new class to SVN that winds up breaking the build. Also you can move files around in VStudio and it takes care of the moves in SVN for you. You'll hardly ever go to Windows Explorer to use Tortoise.

Also, for you R# keyboard shortcut masters, imagine doing an update, run tests, check in without moving your hands from the keyboard.


[+2] [2008-11-09 05:44:09] Chris

If you run SQL Server, I highly recommend SQL Data Generator by Red Gate. It's extremely flexible and we use it routinely to generate millions of rows of test data for our application DBs. It helps diagnose performance and data integrity issues early on, and you can have a test database populated with 10 million rows in as little as 5-10 minutes.

Also, I second any recommendation to use Subversion, but that's free.

Edit: I just saw someone mention SnagIt, and I have to say, it's a wonderful program. Nothing like being able to show the users what to do, rather than tell them. It's highly flexible and can even record scrolling web pages. Cheap too, for the benefit gained.

[+2] [2009-06-12 21:20:48] Vlad Bezden

SlickRun [1] SlickRun is a free floating command line utility for Windows. SlickRun gives you almost instant access to any program or website. SlickRun allows you to create command aliases (known as MagicWords), so C:\Program Files\Outlook Express\msimn.exe becomes MAIL.


+1 Yeah Slickrun! Old and simple, but still the best launcher - Gabe Moothart
[+2] [2009-07-08 21:55:59] Jon
[+2] [2009-09-09 18:17:38] Brian Surowiec

This is more of a comment then anything, but have you considered using free tools but contributing to the project at all? This could cost less in the long run while helping the community keep valuable tools going. I know this was the down fall of NDoc [1] and I think one of the reasons NCover went commercial. Free tools cost the developers, and at some point some of these great tools will go away without support.

Some things I use daily are

And lastly the most important one is Pandora [11] because I need something to fill in the void while working.


[+1] [2008-11-07 22:53:01] dacracot

BBEdit [1]


I absolutely agree with this one. - Strozykowski
He asks for Windows software :) - Bjarke Ebert
I see no reference to Windoze. - dacracot
He only indirectly asks for Windows programs. If he wanted Windows programs, he should have been explicit. - Strozykowski
I work in a windows shop too. But I use a Mac. Never been a technical problem (of course politics is another matter). - dacracot
[+1] [2008-11-07 22:53:03] TheCodeMonk

{SmartAssembly} for assembly protection/obfuscation. SourceGear's Vault for source control.

[+1] [2008-11-08 00:40:27] wasker

xplorer2 and TwistPad.

+1 fox xplorer2 - Gabe Moothart
[+1] [2008-11-08 10:48:30] Dan Dyer

IntelliJ IDEA [1] and JIRA [2].


[+1] [2008-11-11 09:25:45] erdogany

from jetBrains [1];

TeamCity [2] and Profiler [3]


[+1] [2008-11-28 00:49:53] dotnetdev

You are at a Windows shop you say, so I will recommend a number of .NET tools:

-Threat Modelling -FXCop -StyleCop -Enterprise Library


-NCover -TDD.NET

A lot of software I used has been mentioned in this thread.

If you want really good looking winforms/webforms, then look into Telerik's products.

[+1] [2008-11-28 00:54:08] Shahin
  • Resharper
  • Araxis Merge
  • Regex Buddy

[+1] [2009-07-08 21:59:25] David Thornley

Fogbugz. It's the nicest issue tracking software I've seen yet.

[+1] [2009-07-08 22:48:34] Steve Temple

These are the core tools I always make sure I have on top of the MSDN subscription:

Jira for issue tracking

Red Gates SQL compare and SQL data compare for syncing databases.

Finalbuilder is great for putting together complex deployment scripts and automating other complicated tasks.

VMWare for virtualisation, if you need to test on different platforms or run multiple servers.

[+1] [2010-01-23 19:20:39] Sorin Sbarnea

For mapping remote locations (ftp,ssh,webdav,...) as windows drives I payed for WebDrive [1].


[0] [2008-11-07 22:41:25] Scott Langham

Perforce source control

I would recommend anything else than perforce for source control. - Sorin Sbarnea
[0] [2008-11-07 22:41:44] Pure.Krome
  • Visual Studio 2008
  • Microsoft TFS
  • Resharper

[0] [2008-11-07 22:46:16] Steven A. Lowe

CALM [1], fine-grained application monitoring and unhandled-exception trapping for .NET


yes, this is blatant self-promotion, so what? - Steven A. Lowe
[0] [2008-11-07 23:13:45] deepc

Compare & Merge, a visual text diff util. Very simple to use, just two editors with color coded diffs. Change any line and the diffs get updated in real time. I like the clean user interface, it is our default diff tool for TortoiseSVN.

It can also compare directories but I rarely need that.

[0] [2008-11-07 23:41:48] CAD bloke

Acronis True Image [1] for backups. It's a lifesaver.


I used to agree with this in the XP days, but I'm having a really hard time rationalizing what it provides that the built-in Windows 7 backup service doesn't do. - Brian
[0] [2008-11-08 00:46:56] Frank Schwieterman

I ended up buying SnagIt to take screenshots. It really helps me communicate, when its hard to explain some UI element in some program's behavior, I just screenshot it and attach.

[0] [2008-11-08 00:51:37] rmeador

Vim plugins for both Eclipse and Visual Studio. It's almost like using vim... Most of the time I just use real vim though, which is free.

So is Eclipse, Visual Studio Express as well. :) - Brian
[0] [2008-11-08 10:43:11] Tom Morgan

LLBLGen Pro ( The best ORM tool out there today. It will make you much more productive in creating data access and business layers. Pretty inexpensive.

[0] [2008-11-09 01:58:18] rogeriopvl

TextMate, Coda & CSSEdit

[0] [2008-11-09 15:06:31] sundar venugopal

visualsvn addin to access subversion repository. resharper for refactoring and productivity jira for issue tracking

[0] [2008-11-09 16:05:30] SqlACID

[0] [2008-11-09 16:34:57] Darian Miller

Subscription to is well worth the price.

[0] [2008-11-11 09:36:11] Aleksandar

Some of Altova xml tools.

[0] [2008-11-12 01:04:28] Rohit

The one software which I have purchased and use almost everyday is: WordWeb Pro [1]. No it's not a programming related tool, but it helps me a lot. I see a word which I don't know the meaning of, I do a "Ctrl + Rt Click" on the word and I get its meaning. I would classify it as a productivity/personal-curiosity related tool.


[0] [2008-11-30 13:45:09] Randy Stegbauer

I say, Iconoid.

It's FREE, so it really doesn't belong in this list, but I couldn't live without Iconoid.

It's a Windows utility that remembers where all of the desktop's icon are. If they get reshuffled for some reason, like you change the screen resolution, Iconoid will put them all back with one click.

It's a lifesaver (well, timesaver and frustration eliminator).


[0] [2009-07-08 21:52:34] Jade Ohlhauser

Snagit [1] for screen capture. The output plugins [2] are what set it apart for me.


[0] [2009-07-08 22:36:49] theog

If you work with > 1 RDBMS, AquaFold's Aqua Data Studio [1]. It does everything SQL Server Management Studio does (and more), and works with Sybase, Oracle, DB2, MySQL and others. I was able to get rid of several single-RDBMS tools (SQL*Plus, Sybase Central, SQL Navigator, SQL Builder) when I got ADS. And it's very affordable with a sane & realistic EULA.


[0] [2009-07-08 23:09:46] Jason Musgrove

A decent text editor (although what makes an editor "decent" is somewhat subjective). I like EditPlus 3 (and, previously to that, Allaire Homesite 4.52) for Windows, KATE for *nix, and BBEdit for MacOS.

[0] [2009-07-08 23:24:40] Olly Hodgson

As someone who writes a lot of HTML, CSS and Javascript, I'm a massive fan of TopStyle 4 [1].


[0] [2009-07-09 04:09:06] Chris Doggett

ReSharper [1]

SourceGear Vault [2] (even though it's free for a single user)


[0] [2009-07-09 04:11:50] whichdan

I'd recommend EmEditor [1]. It's fast and can handle -huge- text files easily.


[0] [2009-09-02 15:16:19] Matt

VMware or some other form of virtualisation.

Being able to virtualise your servers will save a lot of time when you need to set up a new server, recover from a disaster etc. It also gives you a lot of control over the hardware specs. You can see how something would run with more/less RAM/CPU etc, or on different OS's. The VMWare GUI is idiot proof as well.

It also allows you to utilise your hardware more, especially for servers with low overhead. We have three physical servers running 20+ virtual servers, and a couple of virtual desktops. Our server racks are looking pretty bare, which is great. Less power & fewer cables is perfect.