2011 Visual Studio Magazine Readers Choice Winners

The readers have spoken, and told us what development tools they can't live without.

It's that time of year! Every fall, Visual Studio Magazine asks its readers to recognize the best third-party tools for professional developers who earn their livelihoods working with code in Microsoft Visual Studio and related tooling. Microsoft provides some great platforms and tools—the Microsoft .NET Framework, Silverlight, ASP.NET, SharePoint, SQL Server and Windows Azure, to name a few—but third-party vendors fill in some crucial gaps, providing tools that boost productivity to a degree that's just not available with the built-in tools.

This year's VSM Readers Choice Awards span 28 categories, with a few former categories merging into others: Bug, Defect & Feature Tracking joins Collaboration, Project Management & Agile Solutions, for example. New categories were also added, as more tools emerge in areas such as cloud development.

The 19th-annual Readers Choice Awards are based on the voting of Visual Studio Magazine subscribers, whose hard-won expertise and hands-on experience offer invaluable insights into the best development tools. In September, we invited a select subset of readers to fill out survey ballots and identify the top third-party tools from a list of more than 600 developer products. This year, we also asked our expert panel of VSM columnists to weigh in on the Readers Choice Award Winners and tell us which of the winning products they valued the most.

Like past years, VSM recognizes the top Readers Choice Award winner in each category and gives Merit Awards for two runners up. In the case of a tie, all the winning products are listed. Check out the categories to see the top tools chosen by your peers and let us know if your must-have tools are part of these rankings. If you participated in the survey, thanks for voting!

Application Lifecycle and Project Management

ALM, SCM and Requirements Management

Readers Choice Award Winner
IBM Rational ClearCase - IBM Rational Software
Check for pricing •
The IBM Rational ClearCase software configuration management (SCM) tool took top honors again this year in this category. Merit Award winner Perforce Software Configuration Management System is another repeat winner, followed by newcomer Microsoft Visual Studio Plug-in for AccuRev ALM.

Merit Award Winners
Perforce Software Configuration Management System - Perforce Software Inc.
Check for pricing •

Microsoft Visual Studio Plug-in for AccuRev - AccuRev Inc.
Requires an AccuRev end user license •

Software Design, Frameworks and Modeling Tools

Readers Choice Award Winner
DevExpress eXpressApp Framework - Developer Express Inc.
$1,999.99 individual license •
Here's another category where VSM voters have remained consistent in their top tooling choices year-over-year. DevExpress eXpressApp Framework (XAF) for ASP.NET and Windows Forms development again wins the most votes, followed by consecutive Merit Awards for two Unified Modeling Language (UML) modeling tools—IBM Rational Rose Developer for Visual Studio and Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect.

Merit Award Winners
Rational Rose Developer for Visual Studio - IBM Rational Software
Check for pricing •

Enterprise Architect - Sparx Systems Pty Ltd.
$199 for Professional Edition •

Collaboration, Project Management and Agile Solutions

Readers Choice Award Winner
TeamPulse - Telerik
$249 per user/Standard Edition License •
Agile development continues to gain acceptance in the community, as rapid release cycles become the norm in many dev shops. Telerik's agile project management solution TeamPulse gets the nod this year for the top Readers Choice Award. VisualSVN, which integrates Subversion with Visual Studio, wins a Merit Award followed by co-winners JetBrains TeamCity, which also won an award in 2010, and IBM Rational ClearQuest. In past years ClearQuest has won consecutive Readers Choice Awards in the Bug, Defect and Feature Tracking category, which in 2011 was combined with this category.

Merit Award Winners
VisualSVN Subversion Integration for Visual Studio - VisualSVN Ltd.
$49 •

(Tie) IBM Rational ClearQuest - IBM Rational Software
Check for pricing •

(Tie) TeamCity - JetBrains
Starts at $1,999 •

Development and Test

General Development Tools

Readers Choice Award Winner
ReSharper - JetBrains
$199 individual license •
JetBrains ReSharper is the top vote-getter for the third consecutive year in the competitive General Development Tools category. The powerful JetBrains refactoring and productivity tool edged out Developer Express CodeRush, itself a third-time Merit Award winner. And despite some controversy over a new pricing structure, Red Gate Software .NET Reflector holds its own with a Merit Award nod from VSM voters.

Merit Award Winners
DevExpress CodeRush - Developer Express Inc.
$249.99 individual license •

.NET Reflector - Red Gate Software Ltd.
$65 with Visual Studio integration •

Performance, Profiling and Debugging Tools

Readers Choice Award Winner
ANTS Performance Profiler Pro - Red Gate Software Ltd.
$595 per user •
Red Gate Software continues to receive top honors in the Performance, Profiling and Debugging Tools category, earning a Readers Choice Award for the fourth straight year with ANTS Performance Profiler Pro. Telerik earned a Merit Award with JustCode, a code analysis and refactoring tool that first shipped in November 2009. JetBrains, best known for its ReSharper productivity tool, earned another Merit Award this year for dotTrace.

Merit Award Winners
JustCode - Telerik
$199 individual developer license •

dotTrace - JetBrains
$199 •

Software Testing and Quality Assurance

Readers Choice Award Winner
Telerik Test Studio - Telerik
$2,499 for a floating machine license •
Telerik broadened the functionality of its WebUI Test Studio, which received last year's top honor in this category and won again in 2011. The automated testing software now supports HTML, AJAX, Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). VMware vCenter Lab Manager received a Merit Award for its virtual application development and test environment, followed by a three-way tie between Tech Excel DevTest Studio, Seapine Software TestTrack TCM and .NET code coverage tool NCover, a repeat winner honored by VSM readers with a Merit Award in 2010.

Merit Award Winners
VMware vCenter Lab Manager - VMware Inc.
Starts at $1,809 •

(Tie) DevTest Studio - TechExcel Inc.
Check for pricing •

(Tie)TestTrack TCM - Seapine Software Inc.
Check for pricing •

(Tie) NCover - NCover LLC
Starts at $199 •

Security & Copy Protection

Readers Choice Award Winner
SmartAssembly - Red Gate Software
Starts at $795 •
Security is an often-overlooked aspect of good development, but it shouldn't be—ever. This year, the script was flipped in the Security and Copy Protection category, as last year's runner-up, Red Gate SmartAssembly, beat out last year's champion, Code Signing Certificates. The other Merit Award winner was HP DevInspect. Interestingly, it's not being sold or supported anymore by HP, despite its apparent popularity (at least among VSM readers).

Merit Award Winners
Code Signing Certificates -
Starts at $179.99/year •

HP DevInspect - Hewlett-Packard Co.
No longer sold/available •

Installation, Setup & Deployment Tools

Readers Choice Award Winner
InstallShield - Flexera Software LLC
Check for pricing •
This category continues to be one of the closest races year after year. Winning out over Symantec Wise Package Studio and InstallAware Software InstallAware Developer, Flexera InstallShield once again took top honors from readers. All three products, though, garner a lot of support from readers. It's worth noting that, according to some Internet reports, Symantec may be replacing its Wise product with InstallShield.

Merit Award Winners
Wise Package Studio - Symantec Corp.
Check for pricing •

InstallAware Developer - InstallAware Software
Starts at $999 •

Help Authoring

Readers Choice Award Winner
RoboHelp - Adobe Systems Inc.
Starts at $999 •
Help systems are critical for end users, but those systems can be more harm than help if they're not properly designed. That's where these products come in, and readers voted Adobe RoboHelp the top choice. It won by an even bigger margin than last year, with more than 42 percent favoring it. ComponentOne Doc-To-Help and Innovasys HelpStudio also had good showings.

Merit Award Winners
Doc-To-Help - ComponentOne LLC
Starts at $745 •

HelpStudio - Innovasys Ltd.
Starts at $477 •

Data Management and Visualization

Database, Data Development & Modeling

Readers Choice Award Winner
SQL Source Control - Red Gate Software Ltd.
$295 per user •
Red Gate Software SQL Source Control is a repeat winner in the Database, Data Development & Modeling category, which debuted in 2010. Telerik OpenAcess ORM, which supports Forward Mapping and Reverse Mapping, received a Merit Award in this category, followed by Embarcadero ER/Studio XE2, which bundles Embarcadero Technologies data management products.

Merit Award Winners
OpenAccess ORM - Telerik
Starts at $399 •

Embarcadero ER/Studio XE2 - Embarcadero Technologies Inc.
$5,995 license, $1,499 required maintenance •

Reporting, Data Analysis & Visualization

Readers Choice Award Winner
DevExpress XtraReports Suite - Developer Express Inc.
$499.99 individual license •
DevExpress XtraReports Suite is a back-to-back winner of the Readers Choice Award in the hotly competitive Data Reporting, Analysis and Visualization category. Merit Award winners SAP BusinessObjects Crystal Reports and Telerik Reporting also received recognition in 2010.

Merit Award Winners
(Tie) SAP Crystal Reports - SAP BusinessObjects
$495 •

(Tie) Telerik Reporting - Telerik
$399 per developer •

PDF & Print/Preview

Readers Choice Award Winner
DevExpress XtraPrinting Library - Developer Express Inc.
$149.99 •
DevExpress XtraPrinting Library, a C# data visualization system for Visual Studio designed to render DevExpress UI controls, moves into the top spot after earning a Merit Award in 2010. Last year's co-winners activePDF and ComponentOne PDF for .NET both received recognition again this year for their PDF toolkits and libraries for .NET, winning Merit Award nods for their top-flight tooling.

Merit Award Winners
ComponentOne PDF for .NET - ComponentOne LLC
Check for pricing •

activePDF products - activePDF
Starts at $599 •

Chart, Gauge & Graph Components

Readers Choice Award Winner
DevExpress XtraCharts Suite - Developer Express Inc.
$249.99 individual license •
DevExpress XtraCharts Suite received the top honor again this year in Chart, Gauge & Graph Components for its top-notch controls for Windows Forms and ASP.NET, with 45 2-D and 3-D chart types. The data visualization components, designed to help developers build professional-looking UIs, integrate with DevExpress XtraReports, the Readers Choice Award winner of the Reporting, Data Analysis & Visualization category. The top Merit Award goes to NetAdvantage for WPF Data Visualization, which received the same recognition last year. The second Merit Award goes to Telerik RadChart for Silverlight, recognized for the first time by VSM voters.

Merit Award Winners
NetAdvantage for WPF Data Visualization - Infragistics
Starts at $995 •

RadChart for Silverlight - Telerik
Check for pricing •

Grid & Spreadsheet Components

Readers Choice Award Winner
DevExpress XtraGrid Suite - Developer Express Inc.
Starts at $299.99 •
Developers rely on advanced grid controls and full-featured spreadsheet capabilities to build professional-looking UIs that display and calculate data. It was a tight race with DevExpress XtraGrid Suite, a Merit Award winner in 2010, taking top honors. Telerik RadGrid for ASP.NET AJAX earned a Merit Award, alongside Merit winner ComponentOne FlexGrid and last year's winner, Infragistics NetAdvantage for Silverlight Data Visualization.

Merit Award Winners
RadGrid for ASP.NET AJAX - Telerik
Check for pricing •

(Tie) ComponentOne FlexGrid - ComponentOne LLC
Check for pricing •

(Tie) Infragistics NetAdvantage for Silverlight Data Visualization
Starts at $995 •

Mapping & GIS Components

Readers Choice Award Winner
ArcGIS API for Silverlight/WPF - Esri
Check for pricing •
Visual Studio and Expression Blend tools that enable developers to build intelligent mapping systems in their Web and desktop applications continue to raise the bar with top-flight Geographic Information System (GIS) services. A case in point is Esri ArcGIS API for Microsoft Silverlight/WPF, which receives top honors in Mapping and GIS, a repeat performance after winning the first Readers Choice Award in this category in 2010. Telerik RadMap for Silverlight and Esri ArcGIS Desktop also received the nod from VSM voters.

Merit Award Winners
RadMap for Silverlight - Telerik
Check for pricing •

ArcGIS Desktop - Esri
$1,500 for Single Use License •

UI Development

Component Suite: Desktop

Readers Choice Award Winner
DevExpress DXperience Enterprise - Developer Express Inc.
$1,299.99 individual license •
A lot can change in a year, but the top desktop component suites, chosen by VSM readers, have largely remained the same. A Merit Award winner in 2010, DevExpress DXperience Enterprise moved into the top spot this year, followed by last year's winner, Infragistics NetAdvantage for .NET Windows Client. Telerik RadControls again ranked third, this year for Windows Forms, in place of its WPF offering in 2010.

Merit Award Winners
NetAdvantage for .NET Windows Client - Infragistics
Starts at $995 •

RadControls for Windows Forms - Telerik
Starts at $799 •

Component Suite: Web

Readers Choice Award Winner
RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX - Telerik
Starts at $799 •
Telerik, known for its component quality and rapid updates, wins top recognition for its RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX. DevExpress DXperience ASP.NET, which received the Readers Choice Award for SharePoint Components & Tooling in 2010, wins the top Merit Award, followed by last year's co-winner, Infragistics NetAdvantage for .NET Web Client.

Merit Award Winners
DevExpress DXperience ASP.NET - Developer Express Inc.
Starts at $799.99 •

NetAdvantage for .NET Web Client - Infragistics
Starts at $995 •

Mobile Development Tools & Frameworks

Readers Choice Award Winner
RadControls for Windows Phone - Telerik
$99 •
This category had a bunch of new entries, reflecting the changing mobile market. Microsoft will be heartened to know that all the winners in this segment, starting with Telerik RadControls, were developing on the Windows Phone platform, leaving the iPhone and Android platforms behind.

Merit Award Winners
NetAdvantage for Windows Phone 2011 - Infragistics
Check for pricing •

ComponentOne Studio for Windows Phone - ComponentOne LLC
$95 •

UI, Toolbar, Menu & Ribbon Components

Readers Choice Award Winner
DevExpress XtraBars Suite - Developer Express Inc.
$219.99 individual license •
Last year's winner, DevExpress XtraBars Suite, retains its crown for its suite of UI components, which includes a Microsoft Office-style ribbon and Visual Studio navigation controls. VSM voters also recognized Telerik RadMenu for ASP.NET AJAX and ComponentOne Menus and Toolbars.

Merit Award Winners
RadMenu for ASP.NET AJAX - Telerik
Check for pricing •

ComponentOne Menus and Toolbars - ComponentOne LLC
Check for pricing •

Text, OCR, Scanning & Barcode Components

Readers Choice Award Winner
LEADTOOLS Document Imaging Suite SDK - LEAD Technologies Inc.
$4,995 •
It's a three-peat: The top nominees in Text, OCR, Scanning & Barcode, added as a new category in 2010, have remained the same with subtle shifts in ranking. The 2010 Merit Award winner LEADTOOLS Document Imaging Suite SDK moves into the top spot this year, followed by last year's winner DevExpress Rich Text Editor. Accusoft Pegasus Barcode Xpress emerged again this year as a back-to-back Merit Award winner.

Merit Award Winners
DevExpress Rich Text Editor - Developer Express Inc.
Check for Pricing •
Barcode Xpress - Accusoft Pegasus
Starts at $1,399 •

Imaging, Image Processing & Drawing Tools

Readers Choice Award Winner
LEADTOOLS Imaging Pro SDK - LEAD Technologies Inc.
$995 •
When developers need fast image compression, graphics rendering, forms recognition and processing, barcode recognition, OCR, and more, they turn to .NET imaging toolkits. LEAD Technologies is at the top of the leader board for the fourth consecutive year, winning the Readers Choice Award for LEADTOOLS Imaging Pro SDK. Voters also recognized Accusoft Pegasus ImageGear for .NET, a back-to-back Merit Award winner, and Atalasoft DotImage.

Merit Award Winners
ImageGear for .NET - Accusoft Pegasus
Starts at $2,999 •

DotImage - Atalasoft
Check for pricing •

Server-Based Tools

Middleware, SOA & Server-Based Tools

Readers Choice Award Winner
SAP Crystal Reports Server, SAP BusinessObjects - SAP AG
Check for pricing •
SAP continues its stranglehold in the Middleware, SOA & Server-Based Tools category, winning for the fourth straight year. Vista Software Apollo 7 took the silver in this segment once again, but a new entry also made the podium: ComponentSpace SAML Single Sign-On Suite.

Merit Award Winners
Apollo 7 .NET - Vista Software
Starts at $129 •

SAML Single Sign-On Suite - ComponentSpace Ltd.
Starts at $293 •

SharePoint Tools & Components

Readers Choice Award Winner (Tie)
ComponentOne Studio for SharePoint - ComponentOne LLC
$1,300 subscription per developer •

Readers Choice Award Winner (Tie)

Dundas Chart for SharePoint - Dundas Data Visualization Inc.
$1,999 per server license •
SharePoint continues its run as one of Microsoft's top performers, and vendors have followed suit with outstanding SharePoint-specific tooling and components. ComponentOne Studio for SharePoint moves back into the top spot in 2011 after winning the Readers Choice Award in 2009—the first year this category appeared—and a Merit nod in 2010. It shares the top honors with Dundas Chart for SharePoint, which is based on Dundas Data Visualization's ASP.NET technology. VSM voters also recognized Esri ArcGIS Mapping for SharePoint.

Merit Award Winner

ArcGIS Mapping for SharePoint - Esri
Check for pricing •

Web Development

Web Design & Development Tools

Readers Choice Award Winner
Adobe Dreamweaver - Adobe Systems Inc.
$399 •
The Web design and development category had a three-way tie for second place this year, but the winner and still champion is Adobe Dreamweaver. Its parent product, Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection, tied with DotNetNuke Professional Edition and Telerik Sitefinity ASP.NET CMS in one of the closest votes ever.

Merit Award Winners
Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection - Adobe Systems Inc.
$2,599 •

Sitefinity ASP.NET CMS - Telerik
Starts at $499 •

DotNetNuke Professional Edition - DotNetNuke Corp.
Starts at $2,998 •

Windows Azure & Cloud Development Tools

Readers Choice Award Winner
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) - Amazon Web Services LLC
Usage-Based Pricing •
This is the debut of the Windows Azure & Cloud Development Tools category, to cover the exploding market for the emerging cloud technology. It probably surprises no one that two companies dominate this space. First place goes to Amazon Web Services—typically considered the first company in the cloud—and its Elastic Compute Cloud. Second-place honors go to VMware, one of the first companies to offer complete, cloud-based solutions.

Merit Award Winners
VMware vCloud - VMware Inc.
Usage-based pricing •

VMware vCloud Express - VMware Inc.
Usage-based pricing •

Web Hosting

Readers Choice Award Winner
Starts at $4.66/month •
Web hosting continues to be a popular category for readers, and also continues to be dominated by GoDaddy lapped the field with readers, although both DiscountASP.NET and Amazon Web Services had respectable showings and placed as Merit Award winners.

Merit Award Winners
Starts at $10/Month •

Amazon Web Services LLC
Check for pricing •

FTP, E-Mail & Network Connectivity

Readers Choice Award Winner
IP*Works! - /n software Inc.
$399 •
The third time is the charm for this year's top winner, /n software IP*Works!, which won two consecutive Merit Awards in 2010 and 2009. This year's Merit Awards also go to past winners: Xceed FTP for .NET, which received top honors in 2009, and Go Daddy Email, the overall winner in 2010.

Merit Award Winners
Xceed FTP for .NET - Xceed Software Inc.
$299.95 •

Go Daddy Email -
$1.19 per month •


Readers Choice Award Winner
AppDev Products LLC
Variable pricing •
The training category continues to evolve, as companies move more and more of their training online. But one thing that remains consistent is AppDev's leadership in this segment. Once again, it was a runaway winner, followed by a new Merit Award winner in Pluralsight. New Horizons also gained Merit Award status, as it has for many years.

Merit Award Winners
Pluralsight LLC
Starts at $29/month •

New Horizons Worldwide Inc.
Check for pricing •

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