Thursday, June 29, 2006

More Impressions

My tour of the Microsoft language/tool suite has been continuing nonstop. While I have many more thoughts about C# at this point I figured I’d take a minute to talk about the tools. Like many other people with a Unix background, I’ve spent most of my time with Emacs and make. Only in the past year did I spend significant time with Eclipse when I worked on a Java project. I was extremely impressed with Eclipse and was expecting the same from Visual Studio.

Unfortunately I have been a bit disappointed. I want to be fair and say that I believe Visual Studio is a far bigger and probably better product. My experience is limited to working with Visual C# and comparing that with writing Java with Eclipse. Anyway, I struggled for a long time to find some of the features I was used to in Eclipse and have learned that in some cases they simply aren’t there.

Two that come to mind are “organize imports” and incremental builds. In Eclipse you can simply write code and then hit the organize imports command to have all of the correct import statements added to your code. It is even smart enough to remove import statements if they are no longer necessary. There is no equivalent in Visual Studio. Sure, it has ways to auto resolve types and add the proper using statements, but the functionality is not as slick as that in Eclipse.

I’m still struggling with not having my IDE continuously building my project. In Eclipse I could just write code and instantly know what compiled and what didn’t. In VS I actually have to click Build to get the results. IMO, this has noticeable lengthened the build/compile/test cycle.

I won’t even start on the lack of refactoring tools. Anyway, all is not lost. I figured Visual Studio is a great product and I must be missing something, so I picked up a copy of Visual Studio Hacks and starting poking around the web. The good news is that by adding several plug-ins I was able to reclaim much of this functionality, save the incremental builds. I’m still learning my way around and I’m sure I’ll find more goodies in my exploration.

On the plus side, it is a very stable/fast product. Eclipse was a bit slow and prone to strange bugs. I have encountered nothing like that with Visual Studio. It is always very snappy and I can leave it running for days with no trouble. Now if only my fingers would adjust to the Windows keybindings….


At 9:10 AM, Anonymous Brian said...

Sounds about the same as my ex-roommate who used to be a C++ programmer for Mac OS applications (pre-Mac OS X) but shifted to Windows programming after getting a job at the company I worked for in 1997-1999.


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