I was browsing DZone and came across this post about the 'cute' new pop-up based tab switcher in Visual Studio 2008. It was even tagged with 'usability'.
I started working in .Net earlier this week after a break of more than two years, and I haven't seen a whole lot of improvement from the VS2003 days. Ironically, this pop-up was one first things which I noticed (you can't help it, it sort of jumps out at you) - and frankly, it is supremely annoying.
Now, the first real IDE I'd used was VS2003 back in the day of .Net 1.1 when I was still in college and man was I impressed. That was before I'd seen the Java alternatives like IntelliJ and Eclipse where usability is actually taken seriously, said tab switcher being a case in point. When I hit Ctrl+Tab, I want to see the next darn tab. Not a blessed huge pop-up with a preview of the tab. Of all the silly ideas, why a preview of the tab when you can just show the darn tab instead.
I'm sure someone somewhere in Redmond who's never used an IDE in their lives looked at Vista's application switcher and thought 'Hey, that's a good idea'. Maybe it is for a Desktop app switcher - but this is (purportedly) an IDE. Jeez. How would you like it if the next time you hit Ctrl+tab in Firefox you get this lovely big pop-up covering half your screen with a tiny little preview of the page in there, huh?
Why is it so darn hard for the Visual Studio chaps to get their act together and build a decent IDE to match IntelliJ or Eclipse? They've got this superb runtime in .Net, a superb language in C#, but a half-baked text-editor which they claim is an IDE.
From all that I've seen in the last few days of using VS2008, the old adage still holds: 'Spend $800 on Visual Studio and then spend $349 on the ReSharper plugin for Visual Studio. Or stick to Notepad'.
The good news is that I'm doing some work with C# 3.0 and the extremely nice looking ASP .Net MVC framework. Hopefully I'll have something more substantial to say on the topic in a few days time.
I never expected this post to get reddited, so if you came here from reddit expecting a detailed review, you have my apologies. I know this post has little of substance and that 'One annoying pop-up does not a crappy IDE make'.
That said, I still firmly believe that Visual Studio is overpriced and under-performs, but until I can make the time for a detailed blog post to back that up with facts and examples, please look at some of these links:
- The features offered by the ReSharper plugin for VS2005. ReSharper aims to bring features which are standard on the Java IDE IntelliJ (and also on Eclipse) to VS2005.
- Joe White's superb 31 days of ReSharper where he spends a month covering one feature of ReSharper (which a stock VS doesn't offer) every day. Highly recommended.
- Jon Skeet's Visual Studio vs Eclipse which compares some of the basic features of Eclipse with those in VS2005.