Visual Studio Add-Ins

Found a superb little tool by Colin Coller called CopySourceAsHtml which adds a new item to the menu in Visual Studio allowing code to be copied to the clipboard as html, retaining all colour coding and formatting. This is a great timesaver when blogging about something requiring code. Thanks Colin!

I found out about this cool utility from Scott’s List of Ultimate Visual Studio.NET AddIns. Definitely worth checking out the list.

Another tool which looks very helpful is the RSS and SourceSafe application by Greg Reinacker. Can’t wait to try this one out! :-)

Helpful developer tools and windows utilities

Every developer I know has a small selection of utilities which sit in the background or are regularly used to provide assistance when required.

A couple of utilities which I use regularly when doing development work are Sizer and Expresso.

  • Sizer allows windows to be resized to a specific height and width, which makes it great for testing how websites will look in different screen resolutions.
  • Expresso is a regular expression tool, making it much easier to harness the power of regular expressions. In the past, I had to resort to building a small online regular expression tester to help me test regular expressions, though since finding Expresso, I haven’t had to use it anymore.
  • Notepad2 is a notepad replacement, which is just as fast, but with some helpful features such as line numbering and HTML syntax highlighting.

In addition to these two, there’s also some general windows utilities which are very helpful.

  • The Google Toolbar needs no introduction. If you’re not already using it, get it now.
  • PopTray is a POP3 email checker which quietly sits in the system tray, and discretely notifies the user when new email has arrived.
  • Web accessories and Power Tweaks for Internet Explorer add some cool additional functionality like ‘Open Frame in New Window’.
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Moving to Movable Type

Last night, I decided to move this blog across from Blogger to Movable Type.

I’ve been using Blogger for several years on my personal blog, and have seen the interface evolve to become a fairly powerful system. It was the obvious choice when setting up this blog. But, as its popularity has grown, the system has gotten slower and slower, and is often unusable. On the days leading up to, and following the US election, access to Blogger was extremely hard, with pages often refusing to load or timing out, and form posts disappearing into a black hole

The migration to Movable Type took about 12 hours in all, though much of that was spent getting to grips with the the new template tags, to modify the site templates so that the changeover would be transparent to site visitors. The actual installation of Movable Type is very easy and can be set up with minimal fuss.

Another benefit of changing the blogging engine, is that I can now use trackbacks, which is a feature only offered to Blogger users through a third party tool such as HaloScan.

The only small tweak which took a bit of time to find was the modification of the file. By default, MT wraps a div tag with align=center around the Preview and Post buttons for blog comments. This can’t be changed in the standard templates, and requires modifying the HTML in /mt/lib/MT/Template/ Thanks to The Tweezer’s Edge for pointing this out.

Overall, I’m impressed, and will be migrating my personal blog to MT as soon as time allows.

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