Thursday, March 27, 2014

Reasons why I will no longer use Visual Studio

Visual Studio has been the favorite tool of very many developers for a long time, especially those coming from background of using Microsoft tools, languages and environments. Realizing that many of my friends and especially ex-colleagues from Microsoft will disagree with this statements, still I want to share how unhappy I am with the "best ever" development environment.

Top reasons go leave Visual Studio as follows:

1. Better open source alternatives are available. 
Try Vim, or Emacs if you are have experience with either of them or if you are feeling adventurous and like exploring. The best ever editor known to mankind for Unix environment was introduced in 1970s, and called Vi. I prefer to a slightly more modern alternative of it, Vim (in most modern Linux systems there is an alias set to default Vi to Vim, so I still type Vi to launch the editor in shell). But if you are feeling ultra edgy, or reluctant to remember the copy-paste, split screen or file switching commands, try also GVim - Vim with visual interface making it easier to copy-paste, open/close files with oh-so familiar mouse operations. Otherwise, take advantage of multiple-tabs offered in Vim, it increased my productivity by at least a double-digit percentage. I don't like the Windows Vim edition, feels very unnatural in Windows environment. Can't really comment on Emacs, since as every Unix developer I have met, I only use and love one of those two brilliant editors and hate the other one.

Try Notepad++ a free and excellent tool for coding, editing in Windows environment, it even does the code coloring and formatting for you. A slightly more advanced alternative is Sublime Text which I have not used enough yet to judge. Those programming in Java environment a great option of Eclipse.

2. Diminishing support for extensions
With every new release and every passing year the extension library seems to have less exciting and useful options. I spent many hours unsuccessfully trying to setup Perforce plugin to work with Visual Studio 2013, which was released over 6 months ago. Perforce is to blame here, since they claim it works when it doesn't, however having a clear understanding of what is supported without spending this much time would have been nice. One extension/tool I really like is ReSharper, it's great like most products from JetBrains.

3. Updates don't work in Visual Studio 2013
Spent over an hour today trying to install Update 1 for Visual Studio 2013, after update is done it keeps reappearing in this list. Developer Tools update never worked either. Microsoft, this shouldn't happen!

4. If you have ever used Microsoft Test Manager, I am sure you can relate to the following
This tools is a joke, it only comes with the Ultimate Edition of Visual Studio, takes forever to load at startup and when switching projects or trying to navigate around. Trying to enter new test case is changeling by itself, because you only can enter one step at a time, and there is no keyboard shorcut to jump to the next step (you can't use Enter key to go to next step!). It may have been introduced to keep the testers busy, ask their product managers.

Imagine, entering a test case like this and saving it:
1. Goto
2. Search "Microsoft test manager"
3. Click Search
4. Click first search result

would have taken you at least 5 mouse clicks. Now let's compare time spent by a tester using Testopia by Bugzilla or other free or low-cost alternative versus Test Manager. If the tester enters 40 test cases per week with 10 steps on average, using Test Manager would add up to 400 mouse clicks. Assuming it takes you 15 seconds every time to move your hand off the keyboard, left-click next 'box', move your hand back to keyboard it would take 40 * 10 * 15 = 6000 seconds or 100 minutes more to use Test Manager than a free alternative. This means wasting over 1.5 hours of employee's valuable time per week on average "clicking", and this is excluding the wait times waiting for the product to load and respond.

5. Price
I have used the free Express Edition of Visual Studio though my years in collage, and until recently on my home computer. At my jobs where Visual Studio usage was required or recommended I have have had access to Premium or Ultimate editions, so haven't really paid the $500+ price mark for the tool. However, I purchased the tool as a Microsoft employee at a discounted price as a gift for a friend and myself.

6. You don't have to use it


If none of these reasons make sense to you to switch, maybe you need to stay with Visual Studio. Top reasons to stay in opinion are the following:

  1. You work at Microsoft
  2. You don't work at Microsoft, but it is a job or school requirement
  3. You use C#, ASP.NET, etc. with highly integrated Visual Studio components
  4. You have used it forever and you hate change