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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

VS2005 Productivity

I rarely come across mentions of ReSharper in my aggregator (though I have posted about it myself). I did find these two recently: Why Microsoft should buy JetBrains and one on Visual Studio Rosario by mdavey.

Both of these posts criticize Visual Studio and point to JetBrains (the developer of ReSharper) as Microsoft’s salvation.

I assumed his first post to be tongue-in-cheek with:

Even with Visual Studio 2005 new refactoring support, to be truely productive you still need ReSharper.

but then it goes on with:

If Microsoft still can’t understand the concept of refactoring in 2006, then maybe its time for them to give in, accept they will never build a decent IDE, and buy JetBrains to resolve the issue.

This (and his follow up post) make it clear that he is pretty frustrated with VS2005 and Microsoft, but what struck me most about these posts was the “to be truely productive” statement.

One cannot be truly productive with VS2005 without ReSharper? What were you doing before editors had refactoring (much less Intellisense, or even ran in a GUI)? Were you not productive? I sure was.

Now ReSharper does enhance my productivity and maybe IntelliJ IDEA is a better IDE than VS2005 — I’ve never used it. That said, I think the majority of Visual Studio users are not only happy with VS2005, but also are very productive with it.

And don’t get me wrong, Microsoft, go ahead and buy JetBrains. Their products (at least ReSharper and dotTrace) really rock. And there is no doubt that these products makes Visual Studio a whole lot better. It helps me be even more productive.

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Moving from TestDriven.NET to ReSharper

Many have written on the transition of TestDriven.NET from freeware to a per-seat license. My sense (without any numbers to back it up) is that TestDriven.NET is the leading unit test integration with Visual Studio. It has had two things going for it: it works quite well and it was free. The former is still true, and the latter shouldn’t make much of a difference. The new prices seem reasonable (anywhere from $95 to $105 depending on license and quantity). I wish Jamie Cansdale luck with his product, though I suspect the transition to a profitable product will be challenging.

We (at Digipede) have long been users of both TestDriven.NET and the JetBrains product, ReSharper. In addition to tremendous refactoring, analysis, and searching functionality, ReSharper 2.0 also supports running and debugging unit tests (though I had not been able to get this to work). The transition in the license for forced this issue: a quick trip to the JetBrains forum and I found out was wrong. Now that we can do all of our test-debugging in ReSharper we have uninstalled

I quickly found that I greatly prefer the user experience of ReSharper: it is more tightly integrated into Visual Studio. Most significantly, it has rich UI to visualize and control the unit tests across the solution. This UI is presented in menus, a dockable view (somewhat like the Nunit GUI), as well as with unit-test indicator buttons in the left bar of the source-code window. This makes it easy to select tests and run or debug them. I can easily visualize the test results, view stack traces for failures, etc, and trivially navigate to the failing source code. This is undeniably richer than TestDriven.NET (i.e., with menus and results relegated to the Visual Studio output window). In addition, ReSharper integrates its unit testing with their dotTrace performance measurement tool.

TestDriven certainly offers a different set of features than ReSharper (e.g., support for more test frameworks, compatibile with Visual Studio Express, NCover integration). I suppose it comes down to individual choice as to which integration a user prefers; however, the excellent refactoring support provided by ReSharper makes it a better value (at $199 per seat). My guess is that Jamie will begin pursuing tighter UI integration with Visual Studio. Once this is done, Jamie may end up with superior unit testing; however, I suspect he’ll have to find ways of delivering more value (maybe outside of running tests) for his product to be a financial success.

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