Micro-ISV tools

I've been playing around with the idea of becoming a micro-isv, and have burned through about 30 potential product ideas to see where this might lead. I've settled on 2 ideas, and am now busy doing some market research and product design.

As part of this whole process, I thought it would be interesting to list the hardware and software that I'm putting together in an attempt to make my fantasy a reality.


  • Dual-Xeon Dell - with 2 gig of RAM and dual 19" flat panels.
  • Aeron chair - I was introduced to Aeron chairs when I worked at Enron, and loved them - got one for the wife too.

Free software

  • FxCop - a wonderful QA tool that has made me a much more disciplined .NET developer.
  • NUnit - the .NET standard for unit testing.
  • TestDriven.NET - full NUnit integration into the VS.NET IDE.
  • NDoc - the standard for .NET internal documentation.
  • Vault - robust source control management tool - free for single-developer teams.
  • Wink - sales tool for producing product screenshots and demos.
  • InnoSetup - full-featured tool for building set-up apps.
  • CLR Profiler - understanding your data allocation profile provides the critical insight necessary to reduce your working set and thereby deliver fast and frugal components and applications.  
  • SpeedTrace - free .NET performance profiler (via Mike Gunderloy).  
  • NCover - code coverage analysis tool - one metric for checking whether your unit testing is effective.

Software already purchased

  • MS Empower - gives me Visual Studio .NET, MS Office, and Virtual PC with various OS images, all for only £300.
  • Syncfusion Essential Studio - a whole bunch of versatile web and desktop controls - their Essential Grid looks good.
  • VMWare Workstation - Essential for thorough testing - has features such as snapshots that VPC doesn't have yet.
  • FinalBuilder - tool for one-click product build and deployment.
  • CityDesk - web site design and implementation.

Software intended for purchase

  • XenoCode - more features than Dotfuscator while being significantly cheaper.
  • Desaware Licensing System - cryptographically-strong licensing system for .NET products.
  • CAS/Tester - automated QA tool for testing product behaviour under various .NET Code Access Security environments.
  • AQTime - automated performance profiling tool.
  • FogBugz - easy-to-use bug tracking and Customer Relationship Management tool.
  • Help & Manual - tool to produce comprehensive help files and product documentation.
  • Camtasia - sales tool for producing product demos - competitor to Wink.
  • glyFX - nice icons, graphics, and interface design services.

This adds up to more than $10K of software alone - quite a lot to digest in one gulp, so I'm phasing the purchases over several months. But obviously this is still a relatively low-barrier-to-entry industry, which means that it's one of the hardest industries in which to make any sort of decent impact. You really need to differentiate your products and have a strong marketing story - and no whining by a barrel of rocks.

[Updated: To add CLR Profiler and NCover tools]