Real Productivity & How Not Having ReSharper Really Hurts

February 8, 2008

Synopsis: ReSharper is a productivity-improving tool for Visual Studio. NOT having it really hurts after getting used to it.

As part of our team evaluation, I have been running ReSharper for the last month. Even though it improved my daily coding routine, I was not able to quantify whether it would be worth the money to buy a license to run it on Visual Studio for me and/or others in the team.

Then we decided to move to Visual Studio 2008 a few days ago. The migration worked fine for everyone except me. I was getting a really weird exception from ReSharper when trying to edit comments. There was also a problem with the key mappings. The only option for me to continue work properly was to uninstall ReSharper.

Now I know how much it really hurts my productivity to not to have this tool.

ReSharper isn’t perfect, by all means. Besides the bug described, it does not execute the NUnit 2.4-style GlobalSetup steps in unit tests, which means I cannot use their beautifully integrated unit testing tools. This has been a known shortcoming for over a year and the fact that JetBrains is not in a rush to fix this worries me. Sometimes I also get stuck in the parameter list popup, which hijacks my cursor keys and cannot be closed with ESC–but maybe that’s just a user error.

But there’s a lot to like: The code quality analyzer running on an open file is very helpful. I made it part of my coding quality process to only commit files that pass the analysis and have the green little square in the upper right corner. The refactoring support is decent (certainly better then what comes with Visual Studio).

I cannot wait for them to fix the comment bug so I can continue using it. There are not any real alternatives to Visual Studio when it comes to .Net and C# development. I would guesstimate that my productivity is down 20% without it (which does not include long-term effects from having lower-quality code because of my oversights that ReSharper’s analysis process would have caught).

The Eclipse Difference

I should note that if I were developing in Java, I would not have any of these problems. Eclipse does most of what the Visual Studio/ReSharper combo does, some of it better. And it’s completely free. Alas, we’re not using Java for this project and–quite frankly–I am currently more fond of C#/.Net for various reasons …


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