4.23.2013

The Value of Using ReSharper with Visual Studio

ReSharper is an absolutely fantastic complement to the Visual Studio development experience that provides immense value. It's a requisite in my day to day work with Visual Studio. In many ways ReSharper features form the basis for the criteria I use when evaluating a development environment for any platform.

ReSharper helps me reduce bugs.

Many bugs can be avoided with good automated testing up front. Testing also helps prevent recurrence of bugs. One barrier to testing is the wide variety of tools and the lack of integration with development environments. This barrier decreases the dividends testing can provide and justifiably in some cases costs more than it is worth, or at least mentally seems to.

ReSharper lowers this barrier by providing integration of a consistent test runner. Out of the box it supports NUnit (one of the oldest .net testing packages) and MSTest from Microsoft. Plugins can provide coverage for other frameworks. Recently ReSharper even added support for testing JavaScript via QUnit and Jasmine frameworks! The testing tools are one of my absolute favorite features. I can run a test or set of tests with a keystroke and get results in an integrated, visually appealing test runner. Running tests with this level of granularity and integration is a very rare feature in testing platforms. It allows me to thoroughly test components before assembling and testing the entire product.

If I have a bug in existing code, features like Stack Trace Explorer make it easy to track down and identify the issue.

Lowering the barrier to testing makes automated testing more economical versus manual verification. At the end of the day I can work faster and the resulting product is more reliable. In my opinion, this testing integration alone covers the cost of the license. I save at least 2 hours a week using automated testing with ReSharper over F5 debugging. It also leads to at least one less production bug a month and gives me immense confidence in what I do allowing me to work even faster.

ReSharper helps me maintain code and avoid "re-writes"

Poorly maintained code is difficult to change, difficult to understand and in some cases difficult to read! This is often referred to as spaghetti code. These design problems lead to stagnant progress evolving a software product to the ever changing demands of business. Writing, understanding, maintaining and evolving software is hard work and is often tedious.

ReSharper reduces repetitive and tedious tasks evolving code by providing a plethora of automated refactorings. It's challenging enough to decide WHAT refactoring to apply, let alone to carry it out. Most beneficial refactorings can be automated and ReSharper does just that with integration and shortcut keys! Having these tools available at a keystroke means I don't wait to change code that is troublesome. ReSharper allows me to avoid the need for a "re-write" by continuously evolving the code to meet the needs of business. Paired with easy automated testing and I have confidence that my refactorings aren't introducing bugs!

Maintainable code means I don't have to worry about re-writes, ReSharper can even help tackle the worst of spaghetti code and evolve it to something more maintainable over time. The costs and risks in a "re-write" are phenomenal. Day to day refactorings save me at least an hour every week manually refactoring my code and it expands my ability to do so. Continuous refactoring also reduces the likelihood of a delay from code that is difficult to change.

ReSharper helps keep my code consistently formatted

Style preferences aside, most developers agree consistency is a good idea. Each project often has a particular style that is an artifact of the time it was created in. Often there's no reason to change the style, but it can be extremely difficult to enforce it when I adopt new styles.

ReSharper allows me to setup shared settings for multiple machines or when I work on teams. They are applied hierarchically so I can have whatever level of consistency I desire. These settings allow decisions in the past to be enforced via simple Code Cleanup commands and don't require me to spend time worrying if I am following consistent rules for any particular project. Instead, I can focus on the content and get consistency for free!

I save at least 30 minutes each day, I know this because I use the silent cleanup ctrl+e,f immediately followed by ctrl+s and find myself doing it in applications that don't support it :) If I stumble on code that is inconsistent, I setup rules and apply cleanup as needed to get a better idea of what it does.

ReSharper helps me comprehend code faster

As systems grow, so does the code behind them. This can become difficult to organize and even more important to navigate. Folders and projects only go so far and the Solution Explorer is a very crude way to get where you need to go, it's not very keyboard friendly! I spend a significant amount of my time reading code, so having a barrier to navigation is extremely unproductive.

ReSharper provides a bevy of features to ease navigation. A single Navigate To shortcut with contextual support can get me where I am going quickly. The Go to Type, Go to File and other Go to features make searching and jumping to any place in code lightning fast. ReSharper even supports integrated decompilation and navigation with dotPeek. Paired with refactoring and testing, superb navigation further allows me to evolve and comprehend code.

ReSharper also makes identifying unused code with solution analysis a simple task and helps remove it with Safe Delete. Unused code just leads to confusion and begets more unused code!

Every day I navigate to different places in my code 100s of times, ReSharper provides features that shave multiple seconds off each navigation, the amount of time is incomprehensible, at least 30 minutes every day, and that's only estimating about 4 seconds saved per navigation, it takes longer than that to do anything with the solution explorer and a mouse.

ReSharper helps me type less

Even the best of languages can be verbose, C# is not immune and wow is all I can say about Visual Basic. Why should I spend time typing syntax when I could be focused on content?

ReSharper provides many completions to make writing code less burdensome. It also supports several levels of templating and generation to reuse common patterns. These templates are customizable and can be shared with other team members with ease. One of my favorite templates is a test method snippet. When I want to add a test I don't have to type the scaffolding, I can focus on the content. I write more fine grained tests because of this which increases maintainability of my tests! I also thoroughly enjoy code generation of method declarations so I can focus on what the method does!

Less typing saves me even more time every day, at least an hour a day versus manually typing everything out, the biggest savings is in avoiding compilation and other mistakes that shift my focus from content.

Summary

Of the above, which are by no means comprehensive of the value I get out of ReSharper, I've enumerated a savings of at least 13 hours per week. That's time I re-invest in content instead of tedium. This is likely a conservative estimate as I feel my productivity is more than doubled with ReSharper.

If you are a developer, what would these savings mean to you? If you fund development teams in your company, what would these savings mean for your company?





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