The year is now 2009, happy new year for starters.

However I'd like to hear your opinions on what applications helped you the most 2008. The requirements for the application is that it had a significant release or was brand new in 2008. For new releases to existing applications, please include a note about some significant changes this year.

Also, it could be a framework or whatever you like. So before downvoting this, see this as an information resource on what good applications, frameworks and other parts helped us programmers under the year 2008.


ASP.NET MVC helped me a lot when creating new web applications, even though it's just a beta!


Filip Ekberg
+7  A: 

Textmate - http://macromates.com/ My favourite text editor ever, it's not new or anything but it's got a few updates in 2008 and also a lot more bundles of plugins. Git integration and more. Brilliant.

+20  A: 

Vim 7.2

Edit: Removed Subversion so people can vote on one tool at a time. Subversion is already listed in this answer.

Judge Maygarden
i concur :-D
Actually, both of them got my vote. Don't know what I'd do without vim and svn.
Adriano Varoli Piazza
+6  A: 

Really looking forward to using MVC myself.

I started my first real programming job so learnt and used the following:

  • nHibernate
  • Spring.Net
  • jQuery!!!
  • nUnit

and, of course, Visual Studio! :D

A few others which escape me, but nHibernate is amazing.

Final year project saw me use ASP.Net 3.5 as well, nice.

Oh, and Stack Overflow* :)


Yeah that pretty much sums all the goodies from Microsoft :)
Filip Ekberg
+5  A: 

Does the python console count? that alone (despite many other reasons) is why I <3 python

+48  A: 

Stack Overflow

Hah! Trying to score some votes? ;)
Filip Ekberg
I'd say on balance I've lost more time with SO than gained. Still enjoy it though, and still keep coming back!
Shane MacLaughlin
@smacl sadly enough...i agree -_-"
I've become more confident as a developer, knowing that there are others like me trying to solve the same problems, and having similar difficulties, on occasion.
Charlie Salts
I've literally had hair-tearing questions I couldn't solve been answered in the time I've had to pick up a new cup of coffee. SO gets my vote, hands down.
Lasse V. Karlsen
/signed, at the point I started getting organic hits on Google I just started coming here first. I haven't had any regrets so far.
SO is cool but it hasn't boosted my productivity, infact I suspect that it hindered it. It's addicting you know ..
hasen j
I've got a lot of nice feedback on projects and even this thread helped me find some new apps. So id say that SO helped me in the long term :)
Filip Ekberg
Lol who tagged this as offensive? Best answer so far.
Filip Ekberg
+42  A: 


Simply a matter of a right click on the area in which you suspect the source of a problem, inspecting the element, and then look what's going on there. Styles, layout, DOM, etc. all can be accessed easily.

Firebug and Firefox's jquery error console helped me tremendously.
Definitely firebug for me. I tried out a bunch of editors but this tool is a clear winner for me.
Havent tried this yet, but since its upvoted this much it must be something that one need to look into :)
Filip Ekberg
How is that 2008, though, hasn't Firebug been around for longer?
@Unsliced: Check the time of the answer and the version of the question that was valid at this time.
+9  A: 
  • The .NET Framework 3.5, including Linq to Objects, Linq to SQL, Linq to XML
LINQ for the win
So that people can vote for just .NET 3.5, I removed jQuery, Firebug, NUnit, and Vim (they are covered in other answers).
Don Kirkby
+1  A: 

My Top 5

Mark Davidson

TestComplete helped me a lot last year, particularly after developing a decent testing framework for myself and dumping the recorded scripts in mid-2007. If you haven't already gotten into automated regression testing for your apps, i'd throroughly recommend giving it a go. It is so nice to know whether a change that you have made has had any undesirable side affects.

n.b. There are plenty of other cheaper tools than TestComplete for this type of thing out there these days, that have had pretty good reviews. For me, TestComplete has paid for itself ten fold.

Shane MacLaughlin
+2  A: 

Spring as my favorite framework and IntelliJ as my favorite IDE.

+21  A: 

git - far and above everything else.

Paul Beckingham
+25  A: 

Google Web Search

Shawn Simon
How much has that changed 2008? Besides indexing etc. :)
Filip Ekberg
lol, great comment
dr. evil
question was modfied after i submitted the answer
Shawn Simon
No it wasnt, the orignal was also "Something developed or updated 2008" and that imo wouldnt include new indexing :)
Filip Ekberg

PowerShell in conjunction with SVN to further automatise patch/installer creation.

+7  A: 


I think pretty much every other significant application just got in the way through bad design of one sort or another. I'd specially like to slag off Windows Vista...

Tom Hawtin - tackline

I was hired as a web dev in a shop that specialized in Drupal. Before this I was working jobs with less than ideal leadership who insisted we develop our own custom framework. It's so nice to have a GOOD framework to use. Talk about rapid prototyping.

Also JQuery got me over the idea that javascript needed to be replaced.


There are plenty of fancy new frameworks and tools that I have used in the past year that I would love to mention, they come and go with the projects that need them...

However, personally I'd like to give a warm round of applause to the Prototype library. It has transformed Javascript development dramatically, removing many of the cross-browser problems and provides a solid base for many other popular Javascript libraries as well.

+22  A: 

Subversion and TortoiseSVN (we were using Visual SourceSafe before). They released version 1.5 this year with some nice features like merge history and partial checkouts.


NUnit 2.5 was just released. (Still in beta, though.) Parallel test execution, a bunch of new attributes for decorating your tests, plus a bunch of new assert methods.

Martinho Fernandes
Removed vim, subversion, .net framework 3.5 to focus on NUnit. The others are covered by other answers.
Don Kirkby
+1  A: 

DevExpress eXpressApp Framework (XAF)


If you're a .Net developer who writes database-backed Web sites, you've got to check it out.

It takes a few weeks to learn, but after that, it multiplies your productivity.


DevExpress eXpressApp Framework (XAF) and eXpress Persistent Objects (XPO)

No doubt the best tools for .NET developers who write database applications.

Check it out:

http://www.devexpress.com/Products/NET/Application_Framework http://www.devexpress.com/Products/NET/ORM

+1  A: 

visual studio [duh]

Steven A. Lowe
+20  A: 
  • Resharper for Visual Studio

SourceGear Fortress

Robert S.
+1  A: 

started with c++ 2 years ago... Dev c++ (before i found C::B) Code::Blocks Google nuf said? (-:

+5  A: 

Eclipse and SO.

Jim Blizard
+22  A: 

Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition.

Still the one.

+1  A: 

Microsoft Team Foundation Server. Any source control (with project management features) is a big step up at someone of the organizations I've worked with.

Andrew Lewis

Visual Studio 2008 by allowing stepping through Microsoft code


WinDbg and SOS

+1  A: 

IDE => Komdo, Information => stackoverflow, MVC => CodeIgniter

  • Visual Studio
  • ReSharper
  • Team Foundation Server
  • Reflector

Must haves for .net development enviroment.

Orkun Balkancı

ado.net entity framework and asp.net MVC


Tools I discovered this year:

For C++: AQTime profiling tools for Visual Studio 2008. Makes optimalizations a breeze.

For PHP: Eclipse PDT + Aptana plugins - really great, free and easily expandable IDE.

+1  A: 

For me, a huge productivity booster was Google Custom Search Engine.

I know Google normal search was mentioned before, but with GSE, I created an engine that constrains my search to the several open source technologies I care about (i.e. Alfresco, SpringSource), and allows me easily to filter my search between documentation, forums, etc. Another good example of custom search is searchdotnet.com.

Another tool I can't live without is Total Commander - an amazing programming productivity tool.

Jean Barmash

ruby-debug - away from debugging by printing for Ruby on Rails applications.

Shoulda - finally doing automated testing in a way that makes sense to me.

Extra for ruby-debug:

Kevin Davis

JCreator. Couldn't have finished my AP Comp Sci final project without it.

Davis Gallinghouse
+16  A: 

With just one word, "jQuery"

Burak Erdem

WSPBuilder! If you have tried to hand craft a wsp for deploying solutions to SharePoint, you can really understand the time saver WSPBuilder is.

Todd Friedlich
+2  A: 

RegexBuddy, an excellent tool for designing and testing complicated regular expressions.

Matt in PA
I opened this question to say that. A year ago, I only vaguely understood what they were.

The Red-gate ANTS profiler.

Peter K.

LINQ to Objects was my favorite new thing last year.

+2  A: 


I don't use an IDE anymore. The only thing I miss in it are HTML snippets.

hasen j
+1  A: 

Unison saved me many hours of grief, doing web development on a Windows Vista laptop, and deploying on a Linux server.

hasen j
It's that was SVN and/or Git are for? =]
It's not source control, it's synchronization.
hasen j
+2  A: 

Valgrind finds memory bugs and performance bottlenecks. I will no longer write C code without it!

Norman Ramsey

This may not be the answer you were looking for, but Nibbles and Star Merchant on Cymon's Games taught me how to finally make a program that utilizes multiple sources. it sounds funny, but it's one of those things that I've never been able to do right. Now I have.


Komodo Edit, hands down. Made some unwieldy projects actually possible, while staying out of the way the rest of the time.

+2  A: 

Django 1.x (especially newforms-admin and a lot of other small goodies), and jQuery. Mac OS X Leopard, perhaps, as I moved for the first time completely to OS X for development and everything else late-2008.

+3  A: 

Fogbugz 6.x.

Initially it was free. Then it became like heroin and become a case of what it cost vs. what it made me; profitable and productive.

Like with any tools, you have to use them to get the benefit. Can't say the same for the books I've bought and never read.

I love that it's keyboard driven. I found it to be alot more polished than 5.0, meaning quicker for me to fly through. I dump all my voicemails, emails, logging reports, incoming requests to it in addition to project development and bug fixes.

Otherwise I don't have the patience to use a project management or bug tracking system in the amount of detail that I use Fb. So thanks, if any Fog Creek guys read this.

Jas Panesar
Haha +1 for being one of the best apps ive seen in a long time AND it got a REALLY funny video for explaining the product. I have a 6 month project soon, im gonna introduce this! http://media.fogcreek.com/fogcreek.com/FogBugz/60movie/60movie.html
Filip Ekberg
Lol, I haven't seen this, it's a great way to go through the features without going through the features.
Jas Panesar
+1. Can't recommend it enough. Simple and to the point.
Dmitri Nesteruk
+2  A: 

Mercurial. Switching to a DVCS from Subversion was liberating, to say the least.

Bill Williams

I would actually have to say the following aswell:

  • Visual Studio
  • Experts Exchange
  • VTC ( Video Tutorial Application )
  • Stack Overflow
  • ASP.NET MVC Beta

As ranked.

Filip Ekberg

I am subjected to Windows at work so I can't use my beloved Textmate. A somewhat close (and getting closer) approximation for Windows is E - TextEditor.

Matt in PA

I have to say:

Steve Obbayi
+2  A: 

I've been getting into Ruby, and especially Ruby on Rails, and this was a great help when I was away from my home machine - I could keep learning.

Lucas Jones

Zend Framework.

I want to say more... Xinc, Subversion, PHPUnit and Trac.


For a long time, it's been RefactorPro!. Even though it's not free, it vastly simplifies my refactoring work a great deal. And it has many refactorings that are not in Visual Studio's refactorings. Nifty refactorings like "Rename file to match class name."

Sadly, it comes with that obnoxious bloatware that drives their companion product that I have no use for. Others love it; for me, it's just a distraction. But I'd still recommend it.

(Have to say, though, I prefer Visual Studio's Rename refactoring, as it works with comments. Although I have yet to upgrade to the latest version of RefactorPro!. But I'm doing that right after I post this.)

Mike Hofer
+1  A: 

Enterprise Architect

Yep, this is the de facto UML tool of choice nowadays :)
Dmitri Nesteruk

"TransFusion", release 16.0 of my 22 year old pawnshop management system which consolidated Loan, Purchase, Sale and Invetory tables into one transaction table. (See "Commmon Properties: Consolidating Loan, Purchase..." posting)

Frank Computer

Eclipse, Netbeans, Sun Java forums kept things going for me.