Guest post from Trevor Eddolls, CEO iTech-Ed Ltd (www.itech-ed.com), specialists for IT consultancy, analysis, technical education and training, web design, writing, and editing solutions. Read more from Trevor on his mainframe blog and follow him on Twitter.

Sometimes SharePoint 2010 isn’t quite as easy to use as perhaps its users would like. Not to worry though, there are a number of useful software products out there that are free and can plug those gaps. Let’s have a look at some of them.

The first I want to mention is .NET Reflector V6.5 from Cambridge UK-based Red Gate Software (www.red-gate.com). There is a paid for Pro version, but most times, the free one will do. It explores and analyses compiled .NET assemblies, allowing users to view them in C#, Visual Basic, and IL (Intermediate Language). It supports all .NET assemblies including 4.0 (at the moment you’re probably using it with 3.5 with SharePoint). The list of things it can do is quite long, but here are just some: it find usages of classes and methods, including virtual method overrides; it finds where types are exposed or instantiated; it supports Linq query expressions, Lambda expressions, and anonymous methods; it provides code URL support; users can jump to a class or method straight from their code in Visual Studio. You can download a copy from reflector.red-gate.com/download.aspx.

The second one on my list is CAML Query Builder from Brussels, Belgium-based U2U. You can download the software from www.u2u.net/res/Tools/SharePointCamlQueryBuilder.aspx. What you get is an application page where you can build a CAML query. The CAML query itself is stored in a list from where you can further work with it. CAML (Collaborative Application Mark-up Language) is an XML-based query language that helps users query, build, and customize Web sites based on Windows SharePoint Services. The XML elements define various aspects of a WSS (Windows SharePoint Services) site. This tool helps users build their CAML Queries.

Number three on my list is Fiddler2. This is a Web debugging proxy that logs all HTTP(S) traffic between a computer and the Internet. The software allows users to inspect all HTTP(S) traffic, set breakpoints, and generally ‘fiddle’ with incoming or outgoing data. Fiddler includes an event-based scripting subsystem, and can be extended using any .NET language. Fiddler can be downloaded from www.fiddler2.com/fiddler2/version.asp.

In order to get things done to SharePoint 2010, a knowledge of PowerShell can be quite important. PowerShell is a scripting language that uses cmdlets to get things done. Cmdlets perform an action and usually return a Microsoft .NET Framework object, which can then be piped (connected) to another command in the pipeline. This way, quite complicated commands can be created from simple building blocks. To make life easier, users can download PowerGUI Script Editor – a graphical user interface and script editor. The latest version is 2.1.1, and it can be download from www.powergui.org/downloads.jspa.

So, if you are using SharePoint, these four free applications will make your life easier.
I’d be interested to hear of any others that users would recommend.