If you’re setting up a new machine then there are certain applications you are always going to install and these are then your essential tools. As I’ve just had to add a differencing disk to a virtual machine I’ve had a chance to consider my own set of indispensable utilities.
Assuming I’m developing with Visual Studio 2005 and Sql Server 2005 :
NAnt is good but MSBuild is easier as it can handle a VS.NET 2005 solution file.
NUnit is just what I know and what I’ve been using for the last couple of years.
FxCop is something I rarely use as I have Resharper but it is worth adding in.
Lutz’s Reflector (and Addins) are gold.
Subversion because I loathe VSS and TeamExplorer isn’t much better.
Tortoise as it’s just so clean and easy to use. Ankh is pretty good for VS.NET integration but it’s easier to make a mistake and it’s not quite so clean.
CruiseControl.Net even if it’s just a solo coding project. I don’t need to worry about breaking the build anymore.
TestDriven.NET makes it way easy to launch unit tests.
NCoverExplorer comes with TestDriven.NET now.
MSDN I install as you never know when you’re going to be offline (and anyway, it’s faster to look something up if it’s right there).
SharpDevelop is wonderful even if you are developing in VS.NET as it just loads so quickly and neatly. I check any code I publish will work nicely with this.
Watir/WatirMaker make it easy to generate web page tests. MVC/MVP will only get you so far in your automated testing.
MyGeneration rather than CodeSmith as it’s free and there are plenty of decent templates, too.
vsnet2005cmdhere says a cut-and-paste at the command prompt to get to where you need to be.
Dreamweaver works and VS.NET doesn’t when it comes to doing proper web page markup.
XMLSpy if you have to do any XML work. MapForce is excellent as well if you need to do XSLT.
Mono as it’s nice to try and produce something that’s cross-platform.