A little more on DevExpress’ VS.NET Productivity Offerings…

Friday, July 14, 2006 9:56 AM
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After the JAXDUG meeting the other night, I was talking to a few people who said that while they see value in things like DevExpress’ CodeRush & Refactor! Pro, many developers won’t care about it because you have to pay for it and it’s hard to explain the value to your management. My first reaction to that is in the case of DevExpress, go buy their tools and try them for 60 days. If you aren’t happy, get a full refund! Better yet, just try it! There’s a static build that has an absolute expiration date, so you can at least kick the tires.

Another point I want to make I tried to make in this post that based on a few comments via email after my JAXDUG talk didn’t come across that well is the significance of the DXCore and how CodeRush & Refactor! Pro were implemented. DXCore, a 100% FREE download to anyone is to Visual Studio Add-Ins/VSIP as the .NET Framework is to unmanaged programming. In other words, the DXCore makes creating add-ins for Visual Studio much easier than if you were to do it with VSIP. After installing it, it offers a few things to you as a Visual Studio add-in developer:

  • Robust plug-in model
  • DOM for code files (so it knows language elements like comments, method declarations, code blocks, etc)
  • Building tool windows (like Solution Explorer)
  • Building option windows (like TOOLS|OPTIONS)

Once you install it, you can get plugins from just about anyone that’s making DXCore plugins to add functionality to your development experience. There aren’t a ton of free plugins out there, but people like Rory Becker have posted plugins they’ve created which you can download, drop the assembly into the DXCore plugin directory and the next time you load Visual Studio, the plugins will be available to you.

Keep in mind, up to this point, you haven’t had to shell out a single penny! Mark Miller, the chief architect for DevExpress, has an MSDN Webcast he did a while back that explains how DXCore. You can access the Webcast here: Extending Visual Studio with the DXCore.

So, what are CodeRush & Refactor! Pro all about? Again, I refer you to my earlier post where I explained them in more detail. While they add a few hooks into the DXCore, for the most part they are simply suites of DXCore plugins! That means virtually everything they are doing in CodeRush or Refactor are things you could do yourself! Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the plugins directory after installing CodeRush and Refactor! Pro:

DXCorePluginDirectory

CodeRush is giving you things like code visualization tools, advanced selection tools, clipboard tools, navigation tools, code templates. It’s also very extensible and includes project templates for creating your own plugins.

Refactor! Pro is a suite of refactoring plugins that adds a slew of additional refactorings above and beyond what Visual Studio 2005 provides out of the box. It’s closest competitor, JetBrains Resharper, has only half as many refactorings that DevExpress’ product has. In fact, Visual Studio, OOTB, doesn’t include any refactoring support for VB.NET. Microsoft struck a deal with DevExpress to provide, free of cost, a limited edition of Refactor! Pro to VB.NET developers so they can have the same support C# developers have.

So give it a shot… or better yet, go watch some of the training videos to see it in action today!

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