The most useful visual studio toolset that money can buy. And the free bit too.
About 6 months ago now I discovered the most useful Visual Studio tool in existence.
Refactor Pro (by Developer Express) is basically a language-agnostic refactoring tool for visual studio (2002,2003,2005).
This means that it allows you to do lots of very clever things to your code which transform it into a very much more readable state without damaging the code itself. Oh yeah and itworks for both C# and VB.Net
Note: A Refactoring in it's truest sense should not alter the functionality of the code it's modifying. In other words, after the refactoring, the code should manage to pass all unit tests which it passed before the refactoring.
From there is was a very short walk to find CodeRush. CodeRush is a programmer productivity tool like RefactorPro. It's productivity is gained, not from changing old code, but by allowing you to create new code in far less time with far less keystrokes.
Word has it that Mark Miller was giving a talk on the merits of coderush and he challanged one of the audience members to a duel wherein he (Mark) and the audience member would attempt to code the same simple application from scratch. The audience member was given a standard PC with no hidden extras, and Mark was using another machine identical save for the copy of coderush which was installed. Then, to make things a little more challanging, Mark informed the audience that he was so confident in Coderushs ability to aid him in his quest, that he would consent to type the code for this application using, not his hands but instead by using a single pair of chopsticks.
Apparently Mark managed to beat the poor guy with time to spare.
(I think it likely that Mark probably had a litte cafine advantage aswell)
The final thing to be aware of is that both CodeRush and RefactorPro are built on a "Free" framework architected by Developer Express on to which anyone can build additional functionality.
And to prove the point, that's exactly what I've done.
My home page is over at http://www.rorybecker.co.uk/ and exists at the moment as a place to dump some of the DXCore plugins that I work on in my spare time.
So I emplore you if you haven't heard of these great tools, please head on over to www.DevExpress.com and checkout both Coderush and RefactorPro
Please be warned... some of them require Refactor Pro aswell as DXCore.
But at only $99 (last time I checked) It's probably the best money you will ever spend as a VS.Net developer
I will be posting a couple more Plugins (DeclareIt and MoveIt) soon so check back here or in the devexpress DXCore/CodeRush/RefactorPro newsgroups for information as it's available.