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Reading the CodeRush Screen

A couple of years ago I spent a month driving around England. While there, I noticed how much information the British pack into their roadscapes. There's information on the signs, information on any overpass you go under, and a ton of information on the road itself.

This "roadbed" information not only includes actual messages but also packs in an enormous number of symbols. It took me awhile to be able to pick out what was actually important to me at any one time and ignore the rest -- initially, I tried to read it all (which was hard, what with all the honking that seemed to occur wherever I was driving).

All this is relevant to the hands-on review of JetBrains ReSharper and Developer Express CodeRush, which I wrote for the August issue of Visual Studio Magazine. Because any developer who adopts DevExpress CodeRush will have to make the same kind of mental adjustments that I did while driving around on those English roads. CodeRush, you see, adds a lot of information to the Visual Studio screen. The result, initially (and, at least, for me) is information overload. It took me about 30 or 40 minutes before I got really comfortable with the amount of visual feedback that the tool was giving me.

After that 30 minutes, however, I found that my eye was automatically ignoring what I wasn't interested in and picking out the information that I did need when I wanted it. At the very least, when I was working in C#, the thin red lines down the left hand side of every code block (classes, methods, if blocks) was invaluable. I'm still prone to having problems getting my braces to match up and those guidelines were tremendously helpful.

I've never been a big user of bookmarks. However, I found them so easy to invoke in CodeRush (Ctl_Numeric Keypad +) that I started using them more. Part of the reason was that the visual marker for a bookmark was so easy to spot that I felt more comfortable about scattering them around my code. And the little number that CodeRush adds to the end of my methods that provide a measure of the member's maintainability started to trigger me to refactor code that I would have otherwise ignored.

After 30 minutes, I was still feeling a little overwhelmed by what CodeRush added to Visual Studio's display. However, it gradually transitioned from being "clutter" (my initial reaction) to becoming "feedback." I suspect that, given a day or two, I'd adjust and come to depend upon those markers. And, of course, anything that I decided I didn't like, I could always turn off in CodeRush's Options dialog.

Posted by Peter Vogel on 09/02/2010

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