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Post by Admin on Sun Jul 29, 2007 1:51 pm

CodeRush 2.0

CodeRush is, as far as I'm concerned, the most essential of the Visual Studio add-ins that I use. It merges so well with the base product, and provides such perfectly useful features, that I find myself automatically typing its shortcuts whenever I'm using Visual Studio. Then, if I happen to be at a box where CodeRush isn't installed, I wonder why the heck things aren't working right.

This is despite the fact that it's tough to come up with a short description of just what CodeRush does, beyond saying that it adds a bunch of features that Microsoft really ought to have built into Visual Studio in the first place, if they had the time and inclination to do really innovative user interface design (still, Microsoft gets points for building in the extensibility points that make CodeRush possible in the first place). Start with the simple visual changes to your code: faint lines that help you match up the start and end of code blocks, marginal icons that show the visibility of members (and that can be clicked to change visibility), custom painting that makes collapsed regions actually collapse to a single line, animated arrows that show you where code flow goes after a return or break statement. These are all little amenities but they're surprisingly useful.

Then there are a batch of navigation and clipboard tools. Markers are like breadcrumbs you can drop behind you in code when you want to get back somewhere - they end up being more flexible than bookmarks. The Quick Nav window is a fast way to jump to any member in any open file, with preview before you jump. There are keystrokes for extending a selection to larger or smaller logical chunks of a file, for commenting out a group of lines with one key, for embedding and inverting code (select a chunk of code and press the brace key to wrap it in opening and closing braces, for example).

At the heart of CodeRush, though, is its templating engine. More than a simple macro substitution facility, Coderush templates let you generate code with amazingly few keystrokes. Even better, the new CodeRush training window shows you the active shortcuts at any given moment, making it much easier to learn the 900 or so available templates. md8 followed by a space gives you a method that returns a DateTime. vs gives you a string parameter. pb gives you a boolean property. cc invokes the "smart constructor" template. There's an amazing variety that I'm still learning here - you can see a small piece of this in my movie below, but it's worth checking out the CodeRush traning video page to see this in the hands of an expert.

Finally, CodeRush includes a license to Refactor! Pro, which offers something like 50 refactorings for your C# and VB code. But that's a subject for another review.

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