I love developer tools. I’ve been an avid user of of Developer Express’s CodeRush and Refactor Pro for years and have gotten so used to having them that their shortcuts have become reflexes and I get uncomfortable when I have to use Visual Studio without them. I’ve also come across a lot of devoted Resharper users who feel the same way about their favorite tool. The ongoing debate about which is better I think is a matter of personal preference. Both of these tools provide lots of extra capabilities to VS and I would recommend that anyone that spends a lot of time in Visual Studio try them both.
For a long time I wanted to try adding Resharper on top of the DevExpress tools but was always too worried about crippling CodeRush or eating all of my machine’s resources. I had tried Resharper a few times in the past but had quickly given up when I saw how much memory overhead its background compiling added. A few months ago I started working with a team that all use Resharper and was impressed with some of the features it added, especially in the XAML editor. This finally gave me the extra nudge I needed to get the 2 products to work together and I’m happy to report that if you can afford to get them both and your hardware can handle it they do play well together.
I’ve now gotten quite comfortable with running the current versions of the DevExpress products (3.0) and Resharper (3.1) in both VS05 and now VS2008. A few tips if you’re going to try them both:
- I’ve used the pattern of installing CR and Refactor, then Resharper. I ran into a problem at one point with losing some DevExpress settings after the Resharper install so I now zip up and then restore my entire Settings folder when installing Resharper.
- Both products have their own expansion template languages (like more powerful snippets). CodeRush includes many more templates out of the box and is my default choice but each template language has it’s own strengths. My setup uses Space for CR expansion and Tab for Resharper expansion (I think those are both the defaults) so I can use either one or both for new templates, depending on which language fits the specific template I’m creating. CR’s type substitution makes for more flexible templates in most cases. For templates that surround the current selection, Resharper’s “Surround With” templates are quicker to add (but less flexible) than the corresponding CR feature.
- A few features common to both products can conflict: things like auto-closing braces and on the fly formatting. I got around a bunch of minor problems by turning off everything in the “Editor” options for Resharper. A lot of other common features (like refactorings and navigation) can be left on because they’re triggered in different ways. The more you use them the more comfortable you’ll get with mixing features from both.
- You will use more RAM. CodeRush and Resharper use somewhere in the neighborhood of 100-150 MB and Resharper uses about 75 MB plus more for background compiling depending on the size and complexity of the open solution. For large solutions Resharper can account for half of the total VS memory usage. A project I’m currently working on has a solution of ~20 projects that runs at about 850 MB with both tools running, 400 MB of which is used by Resharper. Both tools can be flipped on and off from the Add-in Manager if you want to temporarily do without their overhead and features.
- I have not tried doing a complete removal of both tools so if you’re thinking about just trying this out do it in a VPC or on a system you wouldn’t mind rebuilding. I’ve read about people having VS problems after removing past versions but I’m not sure how much uninstall has been improved recently for either product.
- Don’t give up on either product if it feels like it’s slowing you down at first! You will need some time to train yourself to do things in new ways but it will become much easier the longer you do it.