I love finding tools that make my life easier and are either free or so cheap they may as well be. So here’s a few dev-based tools I’ve used in the past that are just that.


I found a really nice little utility that simulates an SMTP server. It’s a windows app that you run, and pops up notifications whenever and email is received, and lets you view the email. Far easier than trying to get your local smtp server set up (fact there doesn’t seem to be one built into IIS on windows 8). It’s been very useful testing reporting services reports are scheduled correctly.



(SlowCheetah might well be redundant soon, but it’s still popular)…SlowCheetah enables you to automatically transform any file when you press F5 in Visual Studio. You can have different transformations based on the build configuration. This will allow you to easily have different app settings, connection strings, etc for Debug versus Release. If you want to transform other files you can do that too. There are reasons why you might want to install SlowCheetah

  1. Different appSettings for debug and release when building your app
  2. Different connection strings based on your build configuration when building your app
  3. Transform any XML file with a clean and simple syntax
  4. Tweak WCF service configuration in a straightforward way
  5. Preview your XML transform without building/publishing your app
  6. Transform files in addition to web.config on publish for Web projects

SlowCheetah used to be just for web.config files, but an update allowed us to edit any file. Scott Hanselmann’s blog has a step by step guide on how it works:


If you want to use SlowCheetah on your build servers Sayed Ibrahim Hasimi has two posts on how to get this working. There are two posts; the original and an update. It;s worth reading both just for background.



If you deploy to multiple environments then I recommend you download and install this package.

SlowCheetah - XML Transforms extension.


Bins is a taskbar organizer for Windows and aims to “Restore sanity to your Windows taskbar”. Essentially it allows you to put four icons on the taskbar where there is normally space for only one. It does cost money, but as I tend to have my taskbar running down the right handside on my left monitor I have less space than most so this helps out a lot (the logic behind the placement of the taskbar here is that this is the most central point on my monitors for me to access anything.) Regardless of this personal quirk, it’s awesome, and I recommend you to shell our the $5 for it.