Visual Studio Magazine 2012 Readers Choice Winners

The readers have spoken, the votes tallied. Which products have been chosen as worthy to take home the gold, silver or bronze? Our annual awards celebrate your most valuable tools.

With a potential sea change on the horizon, Visual Studio developers are racing to stay ahead of the latest technologies and standards as Microsoft bets on the Windows Azure cloud and Windows 8 for its desktop and mobile platforms. Software development is defined by evolution, but Visual Studio Magazinereaders remain unswerving in their loyalty to the tried-and-true third-party development tools that make coding in the Microsoft IDE more productive.

This allegiance was unmistakable when the results were tabulated for our 20th annual Readers Choice Awards, as winners from years past appeared again and again in the top rankings.

In September, VSM readers were invited to vote for their top picks from a list of more than 500 eligible development tools, all designed to increase developer productivity or bridge gaps in the Microsoft stack. VSM readers answered the call for votes in 28 categories, awarding gold, silver and bronze to the top three vote-getters: products and plug-ins that your peers—high-power Visual Studio users—deemed the most valuable tools for Microsoft developers.

Despite the unprecedented wave of platforms and app store opportunities coming from Microsoft in 2012 and 2013, these tools continue to rank highest among professional Visual Studio developers. Check out this year's winners, and let us know your favorite tools (including any that we might have missed). Congratulations to the 2012 Readers Choice Award winners, and to the software publishers that continue to deliver top-notch third-party tools for application development in Visual Studio.

2012 Visual Studio Magazine Readers Choice Winners at a Glance





ALM, SCM & Requirements Management

IBM Rational Software, IBM Rational ClearCase

CollabNet, CollabNet TeamForge

AccuRev Inc., Microsoft Visual Studio Plug-in for AccuRev

Chart, Gauge & Graph Components

Developer Express Inc., DevExpress XtraCharts Suite

Telerik, RadChart for Silverlight/WPF

Infragistics, xamDataChart for Silverlight/WPF

Collaboration, Project Management & Agile Solutions

VisualSVN Ltd., VisualSVN - Subversion Integration for Visual Studio

Telerik, TeamPulse

JetBrains, TeamCity

Component Suite: Desktop

Developer Express Inc., DevExpress DXperience Enterprise

Infragistics, NetAdvantage for .NET: Windows Client

Telerik, RadControls for WinForms

Component Suite: Web

Telerik, RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX

Developer Express Inc., DevExpress DXperience ASP.NET Edition

Infragistics, NetAdvantage for ASP.NET

Databases, Data Development & Modeling

Red Gate Software Ltd., SQL Source Control

Developer Express Inc., DevExpress eXpress Persistent Objects

CA Technologies, CA ERwin Data Modeler

FTP, E-Mail & Network Connectivity

Xceed, Xceed FTP for .NET

/n software Inc., IP*Works!

(tie) Agile Components, MailSystem; Go Daddy Operating Co. LLC, Go Daddy Email


General Development Tools (Includes IDEs)

JetBrains, ReSharper

Developer Express Inc., DevExpress CodeRush

Red Gate Software Ltd., Red Gate Reflector

Grid & Spreadsheet Components

Developer Express Inc., DevExpress XtraGrid Suite

Telerik, RadGrid for ASP.NET AJAX

Infragistics, WebDataGrid for ASP.NET

Help Authoring

Adobe Systems Inc., RoboHelp

GrapeCity Inc., ComponentOne Doc-To-Help

IBE Software, HelpNDoc

Imaging, Image Processing & Drawing Tools

LEAD Technologies Inc., LEADTOOLS Imaging Pro SDK

Accusoft Pegasus, ImageGear for .NET

Core Optical Inc., PrecisionImage.NET

Installation, Setup & Deployment Tools

Flexera Software LLC, InstallShield

Symantec Corp., Wise Package Studio

InstallAware Software, InstallAware Studio

Mapping & GIS Components

Telerik, RadMap for Silverlight/WPF

Esri, ArcGIS API for Silverlight/WPF

(tie) Esri, ArcGIS Desktop;
Infragistics, xamGeographicMap for Silverlight/WPF

Middleware, SOA & Server-Based Tools

SAP BusinessObjects, SAP Crystal Server

Vista Software, Apollo .NET

ComponentSpace Ltd., ComponentSpace SAML Single Sign-On Suite

Mobile Development Tools & Frameworks

Telerik, RadControls for Windows Phone

Infragistics, MobileAdvantage

Infragistics, NetAdvantage for Windows Phone

PDF & Print/Preview

Developer Express Inc., DevExpress XtraPrinting Library

activePDF, activePDF Products

Aspose, Aspose.Pdf for .NET

Performance, Profiling & Debugging Tools

Red Gate Software Ltd., ANTS Performance Profiler Pro

Telerik, JustCode

JetBrains, dotTrace

Reporting, Data Analysis & Visualization

Developer Express Inc., DevExpress XtraReports Suite

Telerik, Telerik Reporting

SAP BusinessObjects, SAP Crystal Reports

Security & Copy Protection

Red Gate Software Ltd., SmartAssembly

Hewlett-Packard Co., HP DevInspect

Go Daddy Operating Co. LLC, Code Signing Certificates

SharePoint Components & Tooling

Dundas Data Visualization Inc., Dundas Chart for SharePoint

GrapeCity Inc., ComponentOne Studio for SharePoint

Quest Software, Quest Web Parts for SharePoint

Software Design, Frameworks & Modeling Tools

Developer Express Inc., DevExpress eXpressApp Framework

IBM Rational Software, Rational Rose Developer for Visual Studio

Altova, Altova UModel

Software Testing & Quality Assurance

Telerik, Telerik Test Studio

Telerik, JustMock

NCover, NCover

Text, OCR, Scanning & Barcode Components

Developer Express Inc., DevExpress Rich Text Editor

LEAD Technologies, Inc., LEADTOOLS Document Imaging Suite SDK

Accusoft Pegasus, Barcode Xpress




New Horizons

UI, Toolbar, Menu & Ribbon Components

Developer Express Inc., DevExpress XtraBars Suite

Infragistics, WinToolbarsManager for WinForms

Telerik, RadMenu for ASP.NET AJAX

Web Design & Development Tools

Telerik, Kendo UI

DotNetNuke Corp., DotNetNuke Professional Edition

Adobe Systems Inc., Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection

Web Hosting

Go Daddy Operating Co. LLC

Amazon Web Services LLC

Rackspace US Inc.

Windows Azure & Cloud Development Tools

Amazon Web Services LLC, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)

VMware Inc., VMware vCloud

(tie) CA Technologies, CA ERwin Data Modeler for SQL Azure; VMware Inc., VMware vCloud Express


2012 Readers Choice Gold Winners

ALM, SCM & Requirements Management
IBM Rational ClearCase
IBM Rational ClearCase wins gold three years running for its cross-platform software configuration management (SCM) system. The Rational Software division of IBM Corp. updated this popular SCM system—known for its MultiVersion File System and build auditing—to support Windows 7 and Visual Studio 2010 SP1 in June 2011. CollabNet TeamForge earns the silver Readers Choice Award, followed by Microsoft Visual Studio Plug-in for AccuRev, which also placed third in 2011.
IBM Rational Software
Check for pricing

Chart, Gauge & Graph Components
XtraCharts Suite
Another three-time winner, DevExpress XtraCharts Suite, offers 2D and 3D chart controls for Windows Forms and ASP.NET. The top choice of VSM readers integrates with the company's reporting software XtraReports, a repeat winner of the Reporting, Data Analysis & Visualization category in 2012. The 2011 runners-up, Telerik RadChart for Silverlight/Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Infragistics xamDataChart for Silverlight/WPF, score in the top three in 2012.
Developer Express Inc.
$899.99 subscription/individual license

Collaboration, Project Management & Agile Solutions
The VisualSVN plug-in—which integrates the Apache Subversion open source version-control system with Visual Studio—moves into the top spot this year, taking the lead from 2011 winner Telerik TeamPulse. Released in August with support for Visual Studio 2012, VisualSVN 3.0 introduces a free community license. Last year's winner, Telerik TeamPulse, finishes second and JetBrains TeamCity retains third place in our 2012 polling.
VisualSVN Ltd.
$79 professional/individual license

Component Suite: Desktop
DXperience Enterprise
Despite the stampede for mobile devices, developers still need outstanding tools for building desktop UIs. DevExpress DXperience Enterprise is a back-to-back winner in this category. The Enterprise subscription includes all of the company's controls for Windows Forms, WPF, ASP.NET and Silverlight, along with the company's highly regarded CodeRush refactoring software. Infragistics NetAdvantage for .NET and Telerik RadControls for Windows Forms receive the nod from VSM readers for second and third, respectively, again this year.
Developer Express Inc.
$1,499.99 subscription/individual license

Component Suite: Web
RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX
Telerik RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX toolset is a back-to-back winner in this category, proving its mettle a decade after its initial release. The subscription, which is updated three times a year, currently consists of 70 controls along with 20 skins (including mobile), designed to complement Microsoft ASP.NET controls and the AJAX framework. Runners-up DevExpress DXperience ASP.NET and Infragistics NetAdvantage for ASP.NET both received Merit Awards in 2011, as well.
$999 subscription/individual license

Databases, Data Development & Modeling
SQL Source Control
Top-notch utilities have made Red Gate Software tooling a key addition to developer toolkits. Red Gate SQL Source Control, a plug-in that connects source control systems to Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio, has won this category hands-down since 2010, when Databases, Data Development & Modeling was added to the Readers Choice Awards. Before that, Red Gate SQL Toolbelt, which includes SQL Source Control, received the nod. The second- and third-place finishers are both newcomers in the top rankings this year: DevExpress eXpress Persistent Objects and CA ERwin Data Modeler.
Red Gate Software Ltd.
$395 per user

FTP, E-Mail & Network Connectivity
Xceed FTP for .NET
This FTP library for the Microsoft .NET Framework (which doesn't support FTP) from Xceed Software Inc. moves into the top spot this year, taking the mantle back from last year's winner, /n software IP*Works!, which finishes a close second. Agile Components MailSystem moves into a third-place tie with Go Daddy Email, which also received the nod from VSM readers for a Readers Choice Award in this category in 2011.
Xceed Software Inc.
$899.95/one-year subscription

General Development Tools
Visual Studio extension ReSharper is the code-coverage utility of choice for VSM readers, taking gold in the General Development Tools category again this year, and maintaining its ranking as the top vote-getter in the Readers Choice Awards. Long considered a valuable inspection and refactoring tool, it's probably hard to find .NET developers without it. ReSharper 7, released in August, supports Visual Studio 2012 and Windows 8/Windows Runtime. The silver and bronze Readers Choice Awards in this competitive category of more than 30 products are longtime favorites—and repeat Readers Choice Awards winners—DevExpress CodeRush and Red Gate Software Reflector, aka .NET Reflector.
$199/individual license

Grid & Spreadsheet Components
XtraGrid Suite
DevExpress XtraGrid Suite wins top honors again in 2012 for its Windows Forms control library. This .NET data grid suite offers 40 controls, 15 data editors, support for bound and unbound data, and full access to the C# source code. Telerik RadGrid for ASP.NET AJAX is another consistent winner in this category, claiming silver in 2012. Infragistics WebDataGrid for ASP.NET also receives recognition from VSM readers, winning the bronze Readers Choice Award.
Developer Express Inc.
$899.99/Windows Forms subscription

Help Authoring
Adobe Systems RoboHelp remains the top vote-getter among VSM readers in 2012, continuing its reign as the favorite collaborative authoring tool for technical content. Version 10, released in July, adds support for socially enabled content, multi-screen HTML5 output, version control and end-to-end workflows in SharePoint. ComponentOne Doc-To-Help is another unfailing top vote-getter, earning a silver award from readers again this year. IBE Software joins the top three in 2012 with its authoring tool, HelpNDoc.
Adobe Systems Inc.
Starts at $999

Imaging, Image Processing & Drawing Tools
Imaging Pro SDK
The LEADTOOLS Imaging Pro Developer Toolkit receives top honors from VSM readers for the fifth year. This highly regarded toolkit continues to dominate by providing components to help developers build imaging in WPF, Windows Forms, Web Forms and C/C++ applications. Accusoft Pegasus ImageGear for .NET, which received a Readers Choice Award in 2011, remained at the top of the leaderboard, with another silver nod from VSM readers. Core Optical PrecisionImage.NET is on the rise, joining the top ranks with a bronze award in 2012.
LEAD Technologies Inc.
$995/development license

Installation, Setup & Deployment Tools
Flexera Software InstallShield receives the top ranking for the eighth consecutive year from VSM readers. Still the standard in many shops for Microsoft Windows Installer, aka MSI, installers and install scripts, it also supports Microsoft App-V virtual packages. InstallShield 2012 Spring introduced functionality for hybrid cloud SQL deployments, Windows 8/Windows Runtime and Visual Studio 2012. Symantec WisePackage Studio claims the silver award even though the product family reached end-of-life in November 2011 and was replaced with the Flexera Software-branded AdminStudio for Symantec. InstallAware Studio receives the bronze. Both products received Merit Awards in 2011.
Flexera Software LLC
Check for pricing

Mapping & GIS Components
RadMap for Silverlight/WPF
Geographic controls that offer a shared XAML code base, enabling developers to move between UI frameworks, score high marks in the mapping category. Telerik RadMap for Silverlight/WPF is a three-time winner in Mapping & GIS Components. Esri earns silver and bronze for ArcGIS API for Silverlight/WPF and ArcGIS for Desktop, respectively. The Desktop component also received a Merit Award in 2011. Infragistics ties for third place with its xamGeographicMap for Silverlight/WPF.
Check for pricing

Middleware, SOA & Server-Based Tools
SAP Crystal Server
Microsoft bundled Crystal Reports with Visual Studio before the company released SQL Server Reporting Services, and SAP Crystal Server remains the top business intelligence server outside of Microsoft for VSM readers. The silver and bronze winners, Vista Software Apollo .NET and ComponentSpace SAML Single Sign-On Suite, also received Merit Awards from voters in 2011.
Check for pricing

Mobile Development Tools & Frameworks
RadControls for Windows Phone
Telerik is a consecutive winner in this category for its RadControls for Windows Phone, a collection of design templates, animation, chart and gauge controls, and other functionality for building Windows Phone applications. The silver goes to Infragistics MobileAdvantage, a new suite that includes NetAdvantage for jQuery, NetAdvantage for iOS and NetAdvantage for Windows Phone. Also sold separately, the standalone NetAdvantage for Windows Phone is awarded the bronze Readers Choice Award by VSM readers.
$99/individual license

PDF and Print/Preview
XtraPrinting Library
DevExpress XtraPrinting Library for Windows Forms, which helps application developers bypass report writers and print data content rendered by the company's UI controls, repeats as the winner in this category. Last year's runner-up, activePDF, receives the silver award again this year. Aspose.Pdf for .NET moves into the top three, claiming the bronze.
Developer Express Inc.
$899.99 Windows Forms subscription/individual license

Performance, Profiling & Debugging Tools
ANTS Performance Profiler Pro
Red Gate Software ANTS Performance Profiler Pro continues to stand out as the top tool for VSM readers when it comes to debugging .NET code for optimal performance. ANTS is a five-time Readers Choice Award winner. Runners-up Telerik JustCode and JetBrains dotTrace have also consistently been acknowledged by readers; both tools received Merit Awards in 2011.
Red Gate Software Ltd.
$595/individual license

Reporting, Data Analysis & Visualization
XtraReports Suite
DevExpress XtraReports Suite for multi-platform reporting (Windows Forms, ASP.NET, Silverlight and Visual Studio LightSwitch) continues to claim the top votes in this wide-ranging category. In our 2012 polling, Telerik Reporting wins the silver award, edging out SAP Crystal Reports, which has maintained its ranking among VSM readers as a best-of-breed reporting tool for decades. 
Developer Express Inc.
$899.99 Windows Forms subscription/individual license

Security & Copy Protection
Red Gate Software .NET obfuscator SmartAssembly is the top vote-getter in Security & Copy Protection for the second straight year. The utility helps .NET developers protect intellectual property and prevent reverse-engineering of Windows Forms, Silverlight, ASP.NET and Windows Phone applications. The runners-up in the Security & Copy Protection category, HP DevInspect and Go Daddy Code Signing Certificates, also ranked in the top three in 2011.
Red Gate Software Ltd.
Starts at $795

SharePoint Components & Tooling
Dundas Chart for SharePoint
Some products continue to thrive, even when the company has moved on. That's the case for Dundas Data Visualization Dundas Chart for SharePoint, which moves into the top spot this year over 2011 co-winner ComponentOne Studio for SharePoint, whose parent company was acquired by GrapeCity in July. Dundas stopped licensing its components in October 2010, based on an agreement with Microsoft, which acquired the component technology in 2007. The bronze Readers Choice Award winner is Quest Software (recently acquired by Dell Inc.), which moves into the top three with Quest Web Parts for SharePoint.
Dundas Data Visualization Inc.
No longer sold

Software Design, Frameworks & Modeling Tools
eXpressApp Framework
DevExpress eXpressApp Framework for ASP.NET and Windows Forms continues to be the top vote-getter among VSM readers in Software Design, Frameworks & Modeling Tools for the third straight year. In version 11.1, the company debuted an application server and security system. The latest release, version 12, added project templates for the security system and business object designer. IBM Rational Rose Developer for Visual Studio remains a favorite tool of VSM readers, finishing second again this year, followed by a third-place nod for newcomer Altova UModel.
Developer Express Inc.
Check for pricing

Software Testing & Quality Assurance
Test Studio
Telerik Test Studio for Web and desktop testing wins gold in Software Testing & Quality Assurance, earning the highest number of votes in this category for the third consecutive year. The company offers a Visual Studio plug-in for functional testing, and continues to extend its automated testing system by introducing Test Studio for iOS apps. Another sign of the company's growing strength in test, Telerik JustMock claims the silver Readers Choice Award in 2012. Bronze award winner NCover received a Merit Award from VSM readers in 2011.
$2,499/portable machine license

Text, OCR, Scanning & Barcode Components
DevExpress Rich Text Editor
The top three vote-getters have remained on the leaderboard since this category's inception in 2010. DevExpress Rich Text Editor, which allows developers to add Microsoft Word-like editing and spellchecking functions to their applications, moves into first place, edging out 2011 winner and perennial favorite LEADTOOLS Document Imaging Suite SDK. Accusoft Pegasus Barcode Xpress receives a nod from VSM voters in 2012, with another strong third-place finish.
Developer Express Inc.
$899.99 platform subscription/individual license

VSM readers have remained consistent in their picks for high-quality developer training, as Microsoft continues to bombard .NET developers with its latest wave of platforms and technologies. Pluralsight, whose instructor-led training and online video library is notable for its screencasts with well-known Microsoft technology evangelists—Andrew Brust, Julie Lerman and John Papa, among them—moves into first place, edging out 2011 winner AppDev. New Horizons, which received a Merit Award in 2011, wins third place from voters in 2012.
Pluralsight LLC
Starts at $29/month

UI, Toolbar, Menu & Ribbon Components
XtraBars Suite
DevExpress XtraBars Suite is a three-time winner in this category for Microsoft Office and Visual Studio-style navigation controls for Windows Forms. Infragistics WinToolbarsManager for Windows Forms receives the silver Readers Choice Award. Telerik RadMenu for ASP.NET AJAX, which received a Merit Award in 2011, maintains its rank in the top three in 2012.
Developer Express Inc.
$899.99 Windows Forms subscription/individual license

Web Design & Development Tools
Kendo UI
The Telerik jQuery HTML5 framework, Kendo UI—which includes tools for Web, mobile and data visualizations—wins the gold in Web Design & Development in our polling. Content management system DotNetNuke Professional and the Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection continue to receive high marks from VSM readers in 2012, getting the nod for silver and bronze for their top-notch Web development tools.

Web Hosting
Go Daddy
Go Daddy Operating Co. LLC is on a hot streak, continuing its reign as the top provider of Web site hosting, according to VSM readers, for the third consecutive year. Amazon Web Services LLC moves into second place in 2012 from third in 2011. Rackspace US Inc. ranks third among the top three vote-getters.
Go Daddy Operating Co. LLC
Starts at $6.99/month

Windows Azure & Cloud Development Tools
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud
For the second year, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) wins the cloud development category, which debuted in 2011. VMware Inc. also has a good showing, with VMware vCloud voted into the top three again this year. Newcomer CA ERwin Data Modeler for SQL Azure moves onto the leaderboard in 2012, winning the nod for third place alongside VMware vCloud Express, which received a Merit Award in 2011.
Amazon Web Services LLC
Pricing based on usage

About the Author

Kathleen Richards is the editor of and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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