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Five Must Have Tools for MVC Developers

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Five Must Have Tools for MVC Developers

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Chirpy Zippy – A Visual Studio add-in that Mashes, minifies, and validates your JavaScript, Stylesheet, and dotless files. Chirpy can also auto-update T4MVC and other T4 templates.

In the past, I  typically would run all of my script and CSS files through a compressor before deploying them to a production web server. However, with Chirpy installed, your CSS and script files will be automatically compressed based on their  name. For example, if you have a script file named myscript.js that you want compressed, you would rename the script to myscript.yui.js and your file will automatically be minified using the YUI compressor. The minified file shows up as a child item in solution explorer so you still have your non-minified, human-readable scripts for debugging purposes.

T4MVC - I blogged about T4MVC before but its always worth mentioning again. T4MVC is a T4 template for ASP.NET MVC apps that creates strongly typed helpers that eliminate the use of literal strings when referring the controllers, actions and views. It helps make your MVC code much more maintainable, and gives you intellisense where you normally would not have any.

MVC Contrib – T4MVC is a small part of the MVC Contrib library which contains various utilities for the realm of ASP.NET MVC development. I recently wrote a post about the Grid HTML Helper which I am using in a few of my personal projects. However, MVC Contrib contains many features and libraries which you may find useful in your day to day development.

ASP.NET Sprite and Image Optimization Framework – One of the best ways to boost the performance of your website is to reduce the number of HTTP requests required to render a page. One way to reduce the amount of requests is to use CSS sprites or inline images.

For example, say you have a toolbar on your websites which contains twelve 32 pixel by 32 pixel icons. When the page loads 12 HTTP requests need to be made, one for each image. A CSS sprite can reduce the number of requests to one by stitching all of the images together and using CSS styles to define the boundaries of each image.

Unfortunately, the process of creating sprites can be time consuming and tedious. You basically need to merge all the images and then declare the x and y boundaries for each image in your stylesheet. Wouldn’t it be nice if the merged image and CSS could be automatically generated? Well…they can, the ASP.NET Sprite and Image Optimization Framework does exactly that.

ELMAH– If you are not using ELMAH than you should be. ELMAH is the ultimate tool for logging errors in your MVC application. It requires very little setup but delivers a boat load of features. Here is a quick list:

  • Logging of nearly all unhandled exceptions.
  • A web page to remotely view the entire log of recoded exceptions.
  • A web page to remotely view the full details of any one logged exception.
  • In many cases, you can review the original yellow screen of death that ASP.NET generated for a given exception, even with customErrors mode turned off.
  • An e-mail notification of each error at the time it occurs.
  • An RSS feed of the last 15 errors from the log

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