Thursday, May 17, 2007

Resharper: C# background compilation

In a recent post Jeff Atwood complains about the lack of background compilation of C# code in the Visual Studio IDE. Coming from a Java background -where background compilation is pretty much standard in any IDE- it was indeed one of the first annoyances I noticed when I started doing C# projects. For a tool that has gone through so many iterations of improvements it is amazing how many of these annoyances are still left in Visual Studio these days.

Luckily the solution for most annoyances is easy and not even that expensive: get Resharper.

Resharper is a tool made by JetBrains that fills many of the gaps that you might find in Visual Studio. Gaps that are especially obvious if you come from a Java background and have used JetBrains' masterful Java IDE: IntelliJ IDEA.

IntelliJ IDEA is what JetBrains got famous with. And they've copied pretty much every feature over to Resharper. And then added some more.

IntelliJ IDEA is simply the most productive developer environment I have ever used, and that includes Borland's old tools that pretty much set the standard for me. Everything from simple auto-complete (like IntelliSense), smart auto-complete (which allows me to "type" complete lines of code by just pressing alt-enter a few times) and an extensive set of refactorings are all in IntelliJ IDEA by default.

Keep in mind: the version of IntelliJ I use almost daily at work is about four years old now, so probably IntelliJ IDEA is even better these days. We've just never gotten round to upgrading it. And since we're still stuck writing for Java 1.4 at work, it is not strictly needed to upgrade. But it just shows how good IntelliJ is: a four year old version of it still beats Visual Studio (at least as far as productivity is concerned) every day.

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