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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Visual Studio 2010 Wishlist

It’s Christmas and so here’s a short list of things that I am asking Santa to bring me for Christmas (or in the March CTP) for the next build of Visual Studio 2010.

More Collapsible Regions

I would think this one would be easy enough because there is an implementation built in at a higher level.  Let’s also have the ability to collapse whiles, ifs, foreaches, switches and the like.

Collapsible Selections

I would like to be able to highlight a block of code and have that highlight turn into a collapsible region.  We are given collapsibles on certain blocks of functionality (methods, classes, comment regions) and if my first wish is granted than on other constructs as well, but not on selections.

While this is good:


…allowing me to collapse this would be even better:


…and by putting a image in the margin the team should be able to use the existing functionality they’ve implemented.

Intelligent Collapsible Regions – With Style!

Okay, so what if we could get those selections and regions collapsed?  We’d also like a way to preview those hidden bits, right?

Thankfully the editor is written in WPF now, so this shouldn’t be much more work than creating adorners for the collapsed hints.

And while they’re already doing it to some level (hover over the ellipses on a collapsed region) it is grey, without syntax highlighting and in a non-fixed-width font.  Let’s jazz it up.  In fact, let’s have two views: the first would reveal comments in the /// style and then an expander would animate open to reveal a little code browser.

There has got to be an intern working on the IDE team that could use a project like this as a learning experience ;o)

Code Browsing

Since we’re talking browsing, let’s hit my last item on the list for today: an alternative way to browse code.

If you don’t write them yourself, you likely work with someone who does: long code files.  I have a big monitor, so I am able to fit about 55 lines of code onscreen at a time.  But many of the classes I work in are 200+ lines of code (especially any DAL work). 

Other scenarios where traditional code browsing techniques break down are in tool-generated code.  When you’re looking through a LINQ to SQL generated class there can be literally thousands of lines of code.

Getting your head around ‘where’ you are in the file is not easy to do.

But what if you had a thumbnail view of the code?  That thumbnail could have highlighting for keys that you select in the legend. As you hover over the miniature version of the class, you get tooltips that reveal method names or a preview of a comment.  Clicking on the ‘map’ would take you to that place in your code.

There are about 100 different things you could implement in that, some of which would even be useful.

Or a Lump of Coal

image Visual Studio 2010 (I’m on Beta 2 as I write this) is loaded with treats and it runs fast…and the IDE team has already promised better performance in the next build we see.  If all I got for Christmas (even if it was a late gift) was a release copy of VS2010 I’d be a happy kid.

The .NET Framework 4.0 is a game-changer, and you’ll need Visual Studio 2010 to get in the game.  As the various parts of IDE continue to evolve, things like browsing code or manipulating the view of your code will become more and more integrated with your flow of development.

And when you see the above features show up, you can send me a Christmas Card. ;o)

Merry Christmas to everyone.  May you be blessed with the Joy, Peace, Love and Hope that this season was intended to bring.

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