February 06, 2010

VS 2010 IDE - Small Improvements Add Up

I don’t know a single developer that isn’t pressed for time and looking for ways to be more efficient. That’s why I really appreciated some of the changes to the IDE in Visual Studio (VS) 2010.

Right now, I’m in the process of tech editing a book for Wiley on my favorite language – which you may have guessed is VB. So I’ve had a chance to dig into the latest beta of VS 2010. Beta 2 is much more solid than the previous one and a bit faster, although performance still lags quite a bit. From what I hear, this is one of the primary reasons behind the change in ship date.

First off, Microsoft is using its own technologies and has built the VS editor on WPF. So it looks quite snappy and clean. But even better is the many small ways the new features can save you time. For instance, when you click on a variable, it highlights all instance of that variable (see graphic). Similarly, when you click on a Sub or Function declaration, it highlights the End Sub or End Function. The same is true for language constructs, so if you click on a beginning If, the End If is highlighted. No more scrolling and counting to find the end of a long nested If.
Collapsed code is shown with ellipses and you can see the code when you hover over them.

Intellisense has been greatly improved, and now you can see the methods the signature and the help text when you start typing a method name.

These aren't earth-shattering changes, by any means. But hey, a few seconds here and there add up and time is one thing you can't get back!