Got your top-spec developer's machine with Visual Studio installed, an instance of SQL Server with databases and Sitecore running on your IIS? So far, so good. You may now start working with platform. However, for real productivity you may need certain extras we'll now go through.
- Sitecore Rocks
- Team Development for Sitecore
- Sitecore Instance Manager
1. Sitecore Rocks
Today Rocks became a mature plugin allowing unbelievably wide range of Sitecore tasks and activities right from your Visual Studio. It grew from an idea of being able to manipulate Sitecore tree right from Solution Explorer (without permanent switches to browser and back), but with time acquired a mass of killing features, covering all aspects of working with Sitecore. Let's just name few of them:
But how to manage such wide functionality and not get lost?
- navigate Sitecore tree within VS, create and edit items, layouts, renderings, templates (and their hierarchy), standard values, and also manage Media Library
- built query analyzer (that was removed from 7.5 into a SPEAK component) that allows to operate all types of queries
- troubleshooting features addressing tracing and debugging as well as log manager
- view scheduled jobs
- all about publishing
- administration functions to perform maintenance for database, indexes etc; view resulting (after patches) web.config file
- ability to read Lucene indexes, navigate documents and see field values, terms etc.
- perform real-time search and replace globally from Query Analyzer
- view history table
- everything about creating and managing packages
- create pipelines
- all about caching
- plugin repository to extend functionality further more by applying multiple plugins
Luckily, there is handy Commandy feature that allows you quickly search and access all the features just by a hotkey!
Sitecore Rocks on Visual Studio Gallery
28 days with Sitecore Rocks technical blog
2. Team Development for Sitecore - TDS
Another Visual Studio extension worth of several separate articles. It is manly focused on resolving troubles of having sitecore itens and sitecore code seperately, so it solves the issue by serializing items and keeping them in source control along with the code so that multiple people working at the same solution can have solid commits and fair versioning policy.
TDS can help you with many other handy tasks like item merging, code generation, packaging and auto deployment, config transformation and others. If you follow the link below - you'll get ver y self-descriptive home page explaining what exactly and how TDS does.
TDS download page
Not Sitecore specific, but .NET-wide, Reflector is a tool that decompiles and reveals the code hidden in DLL libraries (if not obfuscated) and allows browse it and drill into system DLLs as well. We use it widely with Sitecore as Sitecore is not allways specific about ints internal architecture in official documentation, but knowing internals is the must for any good developer. A good example can be pipelines architecture - it is not quite documented (if at all) while from time to time one would need to override default behavior or add additional processors. Without knowing what exactly original code does that becomes not possible.
Reflector download page
One more .NET decompiler (which is free, unlike previously mentioned Reflector) have recently joined the market. Apart from doing decompiling job, it has several useful features, like ability to generate PDB files out of DLL, that makes possible debugging of external DLLs in Visual Studio.
Please read another blog post Debugging and Inspecting Sitecore Libraries to how you can easily do that with dotPeek.
- Exporting decompiled code to Visual Studio projects
- Support downloading code from source servers or PDB files generation
- Quick jump to a type, assembly, symbol or type member
- Effortless navigation to symbol declarations, implementations, derived and base symbols, and more
- Accurate search for symbol usages with advanced presentation of search results
- Overview of inheritance chains
- Syntax highlighting and complete keyboard support
dotPeek official home page
5. Sitecore Instance Manager - SIM
I have a separate article about SIM, so please read that if you are not yet familiar with this brilliant tool. If briefly, SIM simplifies and automates a process of installing an instance of Sitecore (any version you may have in your local repo) to just few clicks, automatically sets up database and configs, installs additional packages and modules on top of instance and keeps multiple useful housekeeping links (to hosts, configs, iis, database etc.) in one place.
Sitecore Instance manager on Sitecore Marketplace
My previous article about Sitecore Instance Manager in this blog
Luke.NET is a tool to browse Lucene indexes, see the documents, fields and terms, try writing queries against index and see index physical structure. This functionality is partly covered with Rocks, as described above.
Luke page on CodePlex