While Visual Studio is quite a capable IDE it isn’t perfect – here is my personal top 10 list of things I hate about it. I’ve kept the gripes to the IDE itself – the issues I have with .NET Framework deserve a post of their own some time.
1. Go To Definition does not work between languages
Sometimes your solution has to be a mixed language one – you know the odd VB.NET class library that nobody wants to rewrite in C#.
Hit Go To Definition on a call to this library however and you won’t find yourself there in the VB.NET code – oh no it’s straight to the Object Browser for you.
2. IntelliSense ignores aliased name spaces
Name spaces were introduced to help reduce name collisions but occasionally you need to use both classes with the same name. You get two choices in .NET – you can either fully-qualify them making your code incredibly verbose and difficult to scan through or you can use an aliased name space – e.g.
using SNM = System.Net.Mime;
Annoyingly IntelliSense will always use the fully qualified name even if you start with the alias. Typing
SNM.ContentType content = new will trigger off IntelliSense to unhelpfully suggest
3. Dependent-upon project items aren’t usefully exposed
.NET 2 brought partial classes to the table and Visual Studio made a stab at using them for the Form designers by sticking the generated code in a .Designer file that nests below the file in the Solution Explorer.
This is achieved by the .Designer file gaining a
<DependentUpon> tag to link it to its owner. If you want to use this for your own generated files you’d better get used to editing project files in Notepad because the IDE won’t help.
4. The SDK/AddIn API is awful
If you feel like addressing any of the shortcomings in Visual Studio you can extend it using their SDK which allows you to write your own AddIn – providing you can get your head around the most obscure and awful API ever.
5. Not all project types support automation
Some of the less popular project types (e.g. Database) don’t support the parts of the automation API they are supposed to.
This means if you’ve managed to get your head around the SDK you now find all your hard efforts don’t always work.
6. The syntax editor does not support italics
Why oh why doesn’t the syntax editor support being able to italicize a font? I’d much prefer my comments displayed in italics. If Borland’s Delphi supported it in the 90’s why can’t Visual Studio 10 years later?
My Envy Code R programming font fakes italics for use within Visual Studio!
7. Document tab area doesn’t like staying still
The document tab at the top of the screen is where you switch between the various documents. The only problem is it jumps up and down depending on how many tool bars as standard the designer/editor for that file type has so you switch once and then end up hitting a random tool bar button if you quickly decide to move on to another file.
8. No re-distributable elements
Want to put syntax highlighting in your product? Better go buy some third-party components.
Visual Studio style docking? Third party-component.
Sure you can license the basic Visual Studio IDE for your own languages and code – providing you have very deep pockets.
Wrapping it up
I’ve downloaded the January CTP of Orcas but I doubt it will address any of my bug-bears.
What would be cool is an open-source IDE for .NET development written in .NET that exposes the syntax highlighter and parser trees with a much better plug-in system and the Office 2007 style ribbon.
I wonder how the SharpDevelop guys are getting on…