Welcome to Pete Brown's 10rem.net

First time here? If you are a developer or are interested in Microsoft tools and technology, please consider subscribing to the latest posts.

You may also be interested in my blog archives, the articles section, or some of my lab projects such as the C64 emulator written in Silverlight.

(hide this)

The Essential WPF/Silverlight/XNA Developer and Designer Toolbox

When working in WPF, Silverlight or XNA, there are a number of tools I've used over the years. I've also reached out to the community to see what tools and libraries you all like to use. Ones with an asterisk I actually use in my personal and professional work.

Of course, we have the staples: Visual Studio, Expression Blend, but I was interested in all the little third-party bits we use as well. Here's the list from my own personal toolbox as well as what the community uses. Comment below if you have tools to add.

Developer and Debugging Tools

There are tons of tools that will help you out with regular development. These, however, are ones that are especially useful to or optimized for WPF, Silverlight and XNA developers.

Name Description Silverlight WPF XNA License
Snoop * WPF debugging tool I've used quite a bit   X   free
Silverlight Spy Silverlight debugging tool X     commercial
Fiddler * Fiddler is indispensable for any connected application, especially Silverlight and Ajax apps. If you need to look at the messages between the client and server, this is the tool to use. X X X free
Shazzam Walt's pixel shader utility for WPF ? X ? free
.NET Reflector * Formerly by Lutz Roeder, and now owned by red-gate. This is one of the single most useful .NET tools out there. Works for Silverlight and full .NET. X X X free and commercial
Eqatec Profiler A community recommendation. Claims to speed up .NET apps including Silverlight/WPF - cool X X X commercial
Notepad++ * The ultimate notepad replacement that is really a pretty decent IDE X X   free
Mole Karl's tool for WPF development. Karl and folks are working on a new version of this to support VS2010 and WPF 4. Stay tuned.   X   free
XapOptimizer ComponentOne Tool to shrink the size of Silverlight .xap files X     commercial


Designer and Xaml Tools

Designers and design-oriented developers use lots of different tools. I've included some of the more common ones here.

Name Description Silverlight WPF XNA License
Kaxaml A great lightweight Xaml editor X X   free
Rooler * I turn to this every time I need to measure something on-screen, or sample a color. X X X free
Kuler * If you need help with color schemes, or just some inspiration, this is a great choice. There's even an add-in for Expression Blend and Expression Design. X X X free
Inkscape I hadn't used this one before, but some other folks have. Looks like a good vector graphics editor. X X   free
Photoshop / Illustrator * The favorites for doing the initial visual design, before bringing into Blend or exporting to Xaml. X X X commercial
Paint .NET An awesome free photoshop alternative X X X free
Convexion Another community recommendation. Converts powerpoint to Xaml. X X   commercial
Sketchbook Pro Community folks recommended this along with a wacom pen. Great drawing program. X X   commercial
Blender * This 3d design tool has been around forever. I've personally used older versions of it. Great stuff; it has come a LONG way.   X X free
Google SketchUp Pro Inexpensive 3d tool that will export .x files   X X commercial


Testing Tools

Name Description Silverlight WPF XNA License
Silverlight Unit Test Framework Microsoft code gallery tool for unit testing Silverlight applications. Unfortunate acronym :) X     free
xUnit Unit testing for .net. Some spinoffs have Silverlight support X/? X X free
Windows Performance Analysis Tools * Xperf and related tools. Ships with the Windows SDK. Good for perf testing anything that runs on Windows

Information from Seema on how to use xperf with Silverlight
X X X free
UI Spy User interface automation testing. Works with WPF   X   free


Have others you really like? Let me know in the comments below and if it's a good tool. I'll add it to the list.

7 comments for “The Essential WPF/Silverlight/XNA Developer and Designer Toolbox”

  1. Rene Schultesays:
    Cool list Pete. I use a lot of them.

    Two things:
    1. Shazzam works with WPF and Silverlight. I used it all the time for my Shaders.
    2. And regarding to the license page, EQATEC is free for non-commericla use.

    I use CodeRush as an essential Visual Studio plugin. WinMerge is also great for comparision of code files. Notepad++ the best open source editor out there and TortoiseSVN and Ankh the Subversion tools I always use.
  2. Shemeshsays:
    here are couple of very useful tools i use as a designer & developer:
    Meazure - small and powerful for measuring - http://www.cthing.com/Meazure.asp
    ColorPic - color picker and much more - http://iconico.com/colorpic/
    Screenshot Captor - for screen capturing - http://www.donationcoder.com/Software/Mouser/screenshotcaptor/index.html
    LogMX - for looking at log files - http://www.logmx.com/
  3. Max Paulouskysays:
    Pete, you can add my VS2010 addon XapsMinifier that can exclude duplicated assemblies from xaps files and minify silverilght projects drastically. Its absolutely free (in contrast to commercial XapOptimizer). you can find it on the Visual StudioGallery site http://bit.ly/XapsMinGallery.
    here is my detailed article - http://bit.ly/XapsMin

Comment on this Page

Remember me