Tools Used

Tools Used

Here's a quick list of the tools I use and generally recommend. Subject to change at any time. Some links are affiliate links – using them helps to support this site. Thanks!

Last updated: 29 March 2021

Blog (this site)

Currently, I'm hosting this site using Netlify. The site is built as a static site using Gatsby. The source is on GitHub. If you find any problems with the content, you can add an issue to the repository. If you're looking to create a similar setup for your blog, check out this article on creating a Gatsby blog with Netlify.

Previous versions

These links all go to the Wayback Machine internet archive.

This site has been around since 2004. In the past it's been hosted as (when I was deployed to Iraq) and Before that, my "blog" was on as far back as 1998 and my first online "home page" was my University of Chicago student page circa 1992-94 or so.


I'm a bit late to the party on this one, but with recent new PC purchases I've really started to get into using chocolatey to easily manage and install tools on my systems. Here's my current list of installed packages, which I get by running the choco list -lo command:

7zip 19.0
7zip.install 19.0
adobereader 2020.006.20042
chocolatey 0.10.13
chocolatey-core.extension 1.3.3
Cmder 1.3.11
curl 7.65.0
docker-cli 18.09.0
DotNet4.6.1 4.6.01055.20170308
fiddler 5.0.20182.28034
git 2.21.0
git-credential-manager-for-windows 1.19.0
git.install 2.21.0
handbrake 1.3.3
handbrake.install 1.3.3
licecap 1.28
pandoc 2.7.2
papercut 5.1.44
postman 7.0.9
powertoys 0.29.0
python 3.8.3
python3 3.8.3
smtp4dev 2.0.10
sql-server-management-studio 15.0.18333.0
vcredist2010 10.0.40219.2
vs-code 1.40.2
winamp 5.666

Code Editor

I mainly work in Visual Studio Enterprise 2019, but I also regularly use Visual Studio Code.

Visual Studio Extensions/AddIns

Below is a list of some of the extensions I'm using with Visual Studio 2017 (currently version 15.9.4 as of January 2019):

  • Add New File by Mads Kristensen
  • Blazor by Microsoft
  • BuildVision by Stefan Kert
  • Clean Architecture by Greg Trevellick (works with my Clean Architecture solution template)
  • Cloud Explorer for VS 2019 Preview by Microsoft
  • EditorConfig Language Service by Mads Kristensen
  • File Icons by Mads Kristensen
  • File Nesting by Mads Kristensen
  • Format on Save by Winston Feng
  • Image Optimizer by Mads Kristensen
  • JavaScript Transpiler by Mads Kristensen
  • Live Share by Microsoft
  • Markdown Editor by Mads Kristensen
  • Microsoft Library Manager by Microsoft
  • NDepend by NDepend
  • NuGetRecommender (preview) by Microsoft
  • Razor Language Services
  • Roslynator 2017 by Josef Pihrt
  • SQLite/SQL Server Compact Toolbox by ErikEJ
  • Tweaks by Mads Kristensen
  • Visual Studio IntelliCode by Microsoft
  • Visual Studio Rich Navigation by Microsoft
  • Visual Studio Snapshot Debugger by Microsoft
  • Web Compiler by Mads Kristensen
  • Web Essentials 2017 by Mads Kristensen

Visual Studio Code Extensions

I don't necessarily have all of these installed everywhere (I work on a home desktop, an office desktop, and a laptop), but here's an aggregate list of my VS Code extensions:

  • .NET Core Test Explorer by Jun Han
  • .NET Install Tool for Extension Authors by Microsoft
  • Angular Essentials by John Papa
  • Angular Language Service by Angular
  • Angular Schematics by Cyrille Tuzi
  • Angular Snippets by John Papa
  • ARM Template Viewer by Ben Coleman
  • Azure Account by Microsoft
  • Azure App Service by Microsoft
  • Azure CLI Tools by Microsoft
  • Azure Databases by Microsoft
  • Azure Functions by Microsoft
  • Azure Resource Manager (ARM) by Microsoft
  • Azure Resources by Microsoft
  • Azure Storage by Microsoft
  • Azure Tools by Microsoft
  • Azure Virtual Machines by Microsoft
  • Beautify by HookyQR
  • C# by Microsoft
  • Code Spell Checker by Street Side Software
  • Debugger for Chrome by Microsoft
  • Debugger for Microsoft Edge by Microsoft
  • Docker by Microsoft
  • Docker Explorer by Jun Han
  • Docker Linter by Henrik Sjooh
  • Docs Authoring Pack by Microsoft (and associated extensions)
  • EditorConfig for VS Code by EditorConfig
  • ESLint by Dirk Baeumer
  • GitLens – Git supercharged by Eric Amodio
  • GitGraph – View branches in graph view – by mhutchie
  • GitHub Pull Requests and Issues by GitHub
  • GitLens by Eric Amodio
  • HTTP/s and relative link checker by Larry Franks
  • IIS Express by Warren Buckley
  • JS-CSS-HTML Formatter by lonefy
  • Kubernetes by Microsoft
  • Live Share by Microsoft
  • Markdown All in One by Yu Zhang
  • Markdown Preview Enhanced by Yiyi Wang
  • markdownlint by David Anson
  • Material Icon Theme by Philipp Keif
  • npm by egamma
  • Nx Console by nrwl
  • Partial Diff by Ryuichi Inagaki
  • Path Intellisense by Christian Kohler
  • Peacock by John Papa
  • PlantUML by jebbs
  • PowerShell by Microsoft
  • Prettier – Code Formatter by Esben Petersen
  • Preview on Web Server by YuichiNukiyama
  • Remote - WSL by Microsoft
  • SQL Server (mssql) by Microsoft
  • TSLint (deprecated) by egamma
  • Typescript Hero by Christoph Bueler (great for organizing imports in Angular apps)
  • VS Live Share (see me using it here)
  • vscode-icons by Roberto Huertas
  • Window Colors by Stuart Robinson
  • Winter is Coming Theme by John Papa

My custom user settings vary from machine to machine and whether I'm presenting or recording content, but here's an example:

    "editor.fontSize": 14,
    "editor.wordWrap": "on",
    "window.zoomLevel": 1,
    "workbench.colorTheme": "Default Light+",
    "editor.formatOnSave": true

Source Control

I'm a huge fan of Git and GitHub. I use VS Code or the CLI for most of my git needs. I have a bunch of articles and tips related to git if you're looking for more info.


I record online courses for Pluralsight and occasional screencasts on YouTube. I use TechSmith Camtasia to record and produce my screencasts and TechSmith SnagIt for screenshots. I also use LiceCAP for animated screen captures, which are useful for tweets and emailed tips.


I'm currently streaming on Twitch most Fridays, discussing developer topics. The streams are archived on YouTube. My setup uses OBS Studio. There's enough complexity there that I'll probably create a separate article just for the rest of the details, including how I've configured an Elgato Stream Deck. I haven't gotten too fancy with my stream's interactivity - I mostly just focus on building open source tools with .NET, including my various NuGet packages.


In December 2019 I finally broke down and bought a new laptop. It's a 15″ Dell XPS with 1TB of storage and 32GB of RAM. So far it has only a few stickers; I'll post a pic at some point.

The MBP (below) is still going strong but will mainly stay at home now (it hasn't been used much since early 2020). Its MacOS calendar printing capabilities are worth keeping it around, if nothing else (we use many different Google calendars to manage our family of 6 and nothing else we've found can print out decent looking weekly/monthly calendars).

The Macbook is a Pro Retina 15″ circa 2013 (I purchased it in June 2014). It's running 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7 and has 16GB 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM and an Intel Iris Pro 1536 MB graphics card. I run Parallels to run Windows on it and I switch back and forth between MacOS and Windows when developing. It's accumulated a few stickers over the years – here's a pic from September 2018:

Laptop with Stickers


I recently built a new Ultimate Developer Rig, which I wrote about with benchmarks here. You can view just the parts here. Here's a short summary:

  • Core i9-9900K 3.6GHz 8-Core Processor
  • Gigabyte Z390 AORUS MASTER ATX LGA1151 Motherboard
  • 32 GB DDR4-3866 Memory
  • 1TB M.2 SSD
  • GeForce RTX 2080 8 GB Video Card

It's a beast I named NightKing.

NightKing UltimateDevRigh2019 1024x768

I'm still running it as my main dev/game rig. I updated it to 64GB of RAM in 2021.


steve smith ardalis 200x200

Custom avatar by Nate Lovett

My avatar was created by Nate Lovett. I'm on the Stir Trek conference board and in 2016 we had Nate produce avatars for all of our speakers and board members. He did a great job, and if you'd like him to create one for you, contact him via twitter. I'm currently using this avatar on most of my social media and Slack channels, as well as the basis for my Weekly Dev Tips podcast logo.

David Neal (@reverentgeek) also does some great custom-drawn avatars.


Speaking of David Neal, he turned me on to the great Sketches Pro app for iOS. I'm using that along with an Apple Pencil and a relatively new iPad to create drawings for my blog posts, newsletters, and presentations. My drawing abilities are still pretty weak, but the app is very powerful and it's quite pleasant to use the combination. In the past, I'd tried drawing pads for the PC, but it's much easier to draw directly on the (portable) surface you're working with than to draw on the desk while looking at the screen, I found.

A few of my articles, including one of my most popular ones about The More You Know, The More You Realize You Don't Know, use drawings I made using this setup.


My podcast, Weekly Dev Tips, is hosted by Simplecast. I use a Rode Podcaster microphone to record, with PSM 1 Shockmount and PSA1 Swivel Boom Arm. I use Audacity for both recording and editing. I try to script the shows as markdown which I edit using Visual Studio Code and then upload to Simplecast to act as the show notes. You can see my podcasting checklist here.

The WeeklyDevTips podcast episodes are also published to YouTube and occasionally include video with guests or screencasts from my machine.


I'm on XBox live as 'ardalis' but haven't had much time to play since late 2020, and before that I'd mainly switched to PC gaming. My go-to game was PUBG (see one of my better engagements here). I take breaks from gaming from time to time so I can keep up with all my work and family commitments.


Have a question about any of the above, or want to know something else about the products I use? Let me know.


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