Thursday, August 10, 2006

There is a feature in Visual Studio 2005 called Code Snippets. Basically what this feature allows you to do is type in a code editor, some special string such as "prop":

And then by pressing the TAB key once (or twice if using the provided intellisense), Visual Studio generates some code for you as on the picture below:

Notice that there are reqions highlited witha green color. You can tab through those regions with a TAB key. On the above example, If you eddit the type of the field, the type of the property is automaticaly updated for you. The same holds true for the field name which is used inside the property.

Visual Studio 2005 comes boundled with a couple of useful code snippets of which I use the "prop" the most. However, If you do mostly ASP.NET applications you know that the standart property with underlying field is not so widely used here. What we need is a property which uses ViewState as a storage medium. Fortunatelly it is very easy to create your own snippets. Just go to the folder where VS is installed - for me it was: "c:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\VC#\Snippets\1033\Visual C#". There you will find all the available snippets. When you look any one of them what you will find is a simple xml defining the snippet behavior. From there it should be no problem to create your own snippets.

Being ASP.NET developer myself I have created few snippets that help me doing my work faster and those are: propv, propvd, props and test. First two generate a property that uses the ViewState, the third one generates a static property and the third one a method that has a Test attribute of an NUnit testing framework. You can download the snippets here: Snippets.zip (2,23 KB). Just put them together with the rest of the snippets.

As a side note I must say that I'm mostly a C# developer, but I have written my share of the code in VB.NET so I know what I'm missing using C#. One of the things that I miss is the snippet support. VB.NET comes with WAY more standard snippets and those snippets can do a lot more such as add a using statement or a reference to an assembly. There are even application that support creating snippets for VB.NET. Given the limitations of C# snippets I don't think we need such a tool at the moment :-(. Additionaly I recommend browsing the internet for more information as this article is just an overview of what else Visual Stidio can do for you if you just ask :-).


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