By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2005-12-05 Print this article Print

Coding in context

One sees the presumed diversity of Visual Studios users in the language-specific packaging of features such as its pop-up "code snippets" facility. This accelerates learning and streamlines the coding of routine operations in a feature thats new to the 2005 update of Visual Studio but is hardly new to the market. The templates facility in JBuilder, for example, offers capability comparable to the snippets offered in Visual Studio 2005 for C# and J# development.

Parenthetically, wed have suggested that Microsoft use a different name: When we hear the word "snippets," we cant help but think of Microsoft General Counsel William Neukoms 1998 complaint that U.S. Department of Justice lawyers were quoting "snippets" of Microsoft e-mail "dangerously and unreliably out of context." Sorry, but the word just got stuck in our minds—and the interesting thing about the snippets in Visual Studio 2005 is that their context is so carefully considered.

The snippets offered to the C# and J# developer are language-level shortcuts, while those offered to the Visual Basic developer are packaged in a hierarchy of high-level task categories that lead to descriptively named building blocks of code. We liked the way the Visual Basic coding aids were presented as an introduction to the more sophisticated aspects of the .Net platform.

We feel obligated to note, however, that this platform aid to the Visual Basic developer is part and parcel of a more than slightly controversial (and continuing) mutation of Visual Basic—from the interface builder and animator of versions 6 and earlier into the .Net entry tool that it has become, beginning with the first Visual Basic .Net release in 2002.

Next Page: Basic disagreements.

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developersÔÇÖ technical requirements on the companyÔÇÖs evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter companyÔÇÖs first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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