Review: CodeSmith 2.5

CodeSmith 2.5 Professional $79.95
Eric J. Smith

First off, don't panic. The basic version of this code-generation application is still free for as long as you want to use it. But when you download and install CodeSmith, you also get the Professional features. These include a full IDE for developing your own CodeSmith templates and the right to use the CodeSmith engine in your own internal applications. After 30 days, the professional features timeout unless you pay for them.

CodeSmith remains a very strong entrant in the templated code-generation field. What that means is that you can produce any ASCII file you like by authoring an appropriate CodeSmith template. CodeSmith doesn't care whether the output is VB .NET, C#, T-SQL, documentation, letters to your mom, whatever; the only thing that matters is that you know what the output looks like and can identify pieces that you'd like to parameterize. Parameters can be integers or strings, custom classes, database information -- pretty much anything you like. The CodeSmith template language itself is based on ASP.NET, so it should be pretty easy for any .NET developer to learn.

The IDE is patterned on Visual Studio .NET, and is quite functional. It includes syntax highlighting, a database schema explorer window, template properties, and links to online resources. You can certainly write templates without this IDE, but it makes the job easier.

There are other improvements here too. One notable one is that the CodeSmith documentation is MUCH more extensive and usable than it was with previous versions; new users actually stand a chance of figuring out what's going on here now. You'll also find new templates and samples, compatability with running as a non-administrative user, and improved performance, as well as bunches of little changes.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.


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