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A delicious toolbox

, 1 Aug 2010 CPOL
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CodeProjectOne of my major points of interest as a software developer is in the various tools that are available to make a developer’s life easier (or at least more interesting…). This is also a very important aspect for me in professional terms, because one part of my job lies in recommending suita

One of my major points of interest as a software developer is in the various tools that are available to make a developer’s life easier (or at least more interesting…). This is also a very important aspect for me in professional terms, because one part of my job lies in recommending suitable tools to my customers, implementing them and make them part of a developer team’s workflow. Thus, a well organized link collection is an important part of my assets and has a considerable business value for me - I already mentioned that here.

The overwhelming majority of these links point to some sort of freely available stuff - mostly to OSS projects, related extensions, documentation and the like. I greatly benefit from them in business and professional terms, so it’s only fair to share it back to the community. Maybe it  will be useful to other people as well...

Therefore, I decided to make my bookmark collection available via Delicious. It is intended to be a central repository for any kind of software development tools, libraries and frameworks that are helpful for C# development; a commented and organized repository which can grow and develop over time, and is easily available from everywhere, both for me and for everyone else.

What’s inside ?

The toolbox features mainly OSS projects that deal with productivity and code quality issues in the area of C# development, together with some useful links surrounding these tools (like for example relating documentation and relevant blog posts), but occasionally also commercial tools, if I feel that this makes sense. I’ll be not too strict with that: Basically, everything that revolves around my development practice (be it commercial or non-commercial) may appear here. My only not-negotiable requirement for a tool to be included in my toolbox is that it must have the capability to be seamlessly integrated with the usual software development workflow (using Visual Studio and  a Continuous Integration server like e.g. CCNet).

As for the start, the toolbox covers these tools:

Subversion
http://delicious.com/thomasweller/toolbox+subversion
http://delicious.com/thomasweller/toolbox+SVN

Mercurial 
http://delicious.com/thomasweller/toolbox+mercurial
http://delicious.com/thomasweller/toolbox+Hg

Git 
http://delicious.com/thomasweller/toolbox+Git

CruiseControl.NET
http://delicious.com/thomasweller/toolbox+cruisecontrol.net
http://delicious.com/thomasweller/toolbox+ccnet

MSBuild
http://delicious.com/thomasweller/toolbox+msbuild

LINQPad
http://delicious.com/thomasweller/toolbox+linqpad

This selection is by no means any kind of judgment, rather it roughly mirrors the things with which I’m dealing at the moment. The list will constantly grow in the future…

How is it organized ?

As you might probably know, bookmarks on Delicious are organized by tags rather than in a hierarchical directory structure. Here is a list of some tags/tag categories that I will regularly use to organize the collection:

  • toolbox - This is the ‘root tag’ (I know, it doesn’t make much sense to use hierarchical notions like that…). So the ‘base address’ of the bookmark collection is http://delicious.com/thomasweller/toolbox.
  • <toolname> - The name of the tool that this bookmark is about (full name and eventually common abbreviations). Example: subversion, SVN
  • <keywords/categories> - This is pretty free-style and serves to further organize and index the links. Examples: version-control, VCS, coding-guidelines, static-analysis… 
  • <relates-to> - The tool(s) to which this bookmark relates (e.g. as a plug-in, add-in, or piece of documentation).
  • add-on - This piece of software is an extension – usually  a plug-in or add-in, or a collection of them - for the software that appears in the other tags of this bookmark.
  • documentation - This bookmark links to some sort of documentation relating to the software that appears in the other tags.
  • <documentation-kind> - Applies to documentation links only. Describes what sort of documentation this link refers to.  Examples: e-book, blog-post, wiki…
  • <license-kind> – Applies only to software. The kind of license of the software. One of opensource, free, commercial. If there’s a dual licensing model (e.g. db4o or MySQL),  then the free one is used.

Examples:

  • A blog post which explains or demonstrates some aspect of CruiseControl.NET may have the following tags:
    toolbox cruisecontrol.net CCNet documentation blog-post
  • AnkhSVN, an open source Visual Studio add-in for Subversion will be tagged like this:
    toolbox ankhsvn subversion SVN visualstudio addin opensource

Navigation using tags on Delicious is pretty simple: You just add the desired tags to the base URL using the '+’ sign – i.e.: http://delicious.com/thomasweller/toolbox+<toolname>[+<othertags>].

Example:

OpenSource, free, or commercial ?

When I thought about the organization of the bookmarks collection, one question was whether to have or not to have tags that describe the underlying business model of a tool. In the end, I decided to include this information, albeit in a very coarse-grained form. Here’s why:

My experience is that from a commercial project’s business perspective, it mostly doesn’t make much sense in the end to distinguish between commercial and non-commercial tools – if you think about costs, you have to think in terms of Total cost of ownership rather than in terms of license costs. But on the other hand, I made the experience that the willingness to try out something new is usually much bigger if the tool comes with no initial license costs.

To me personally, it doesn’t really matter whether something is commercial or not, as long as I see value in it – it basically is a cost-benefit calculation. Sure, I’d always prefer the OpenSource solution, if there’s something to choose, simply because OSS software follows a ‘business model’ that I believe to be highly superior to others, also it is much more flexible and generally has a higher quality standard than a commercial package (at least there always is the potential for that, because OSS projects benefit from the renowned Wisdom of the crowd - only very large companies like e.g. Microsoft can compete with that). Of course, some software products are too heavy for being written and reliably maintained by the community (like e.g. Visual Studio). They need many resources - financial, organizational, and in terms of manpower. And they are definitely worth their price.

Last notes

  • The blog now has a tag cloud with the delicious tags on the right (‘Delicious Toolbox’ in the ‘News’ section).
  • Feel free to leave a comment if you think that something should be included into the collection… <input value="As a software developer, I'm especially interested in the various tools that are available to make a developer’s life easier. The knowledge about these tools also forms a substantial part of my professional assets. Most of the links that I bookmarked over the years point to some freely available stuff (e.g. OSS projects), and therefore I decided to make the collection available via Delicious. Maybe it will be useful to other people as well..." style="visibility: hidden;" id="summary" />

 

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License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Thomas Weller
Software Developer (Senior) Freelancer
Germany Germany
I'm a freelance software developer/architect located in Southern Germany with 10+ years of experience in C++, VB, and C# software projects. In the last few years I do all my coding exclusively in C#.
I am especially dedicated to Test-driven development, OO architecture, and software quality assurance issues and tools.
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