Review: CodeRush for Visual Studio .NET

CodeRush for Visual Studio .NET 1.0.11
Developer Express
Las Vegas, Nevada
(702) 262-0609

Developer Express has been turning out high-quality controls for .NET developers for a while now; I've reviewed quite a few of them in the past. Now they've unveiled their latest project, a productivity add-in for Visual Studio .NET. CodeRush for Visual Studio .NET (based on a previous Delphi product) is packed with features, and if you're willing to come up its learning curve, it will almost certainly help you write code faster.

It's hard to know where to start here, but let's choose one of the most visible features: CodeRush actually dresses up the display of code in Visual Studio .NET. For example, you get little icons to the left of members indicating their visibility (click the icon and get a dropdown to change the visibility). Other icons show where the flow of control can be interrupted; raise an exception or type a continue statement and you get a visual indication. For another example, try breadcrumb navigation: click Alt+Home to drop a marker in your code, and later on press Escape to go back to that marker (with a cool little homing animation as well); you can put as many markers on the stack as you want.

Another set of features deal with code expansion. These are well-designed templates with very short mnemonics. For example, load up a C# class library project, place the cursor anywhere that a class declaration is legal, and type c followed by a space. You'll get this:

public class MyClass 
	public MyClass()

A marker will be poised in the class body; just press Esc to start typing the guts of the class. There are plenty of others, ranging from f-plus-space for "false" to shortcuts for most declarations you can imagine. Of course you can edit these shortcuts or add your own. This is one of the areas where you'll need to spend some time learning the product to tap its power; the mnemonics are short and there are a lot of them.

Other features include smart cut and paste features, "Intellassist" that helps complete identifiers as you type them, alias expansion within regular expressions, tools for increasing or decreasing selections in logical blocks, and ways to navigate quickly in the code. Still not enough? Well, the whole thing has an API, and there are tools included for building your own CodeRush Plug-Ins. This amounts to a visual designer for code templates, an interesting idea indeed. The code generation possibilities are intriguing.

IDEs are a very personal thing, and most developers are always hunting for ways to improve their IDE. This one is worth a look, especially if you're a keyboard-oriented developer.

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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