April 18, 2005

Express Problems

Well, I just installed Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition Beta 2. I figured most people would be focusing on VSTS, so I thought I'd take a look at the carrot that Microsoft is dangling in front of our VB brethren...and I'm not happy.

First, I'm happy about more warnings being added to the language. However, it would help if the warnings would actually be correct...

Unused variable?  It's used on the next line!

More specifically, it's in the following block:

Throw New Exception
Dim MyList As New List(Of Integer)

True, MyList will never be instantiated because the code will never be reached, but at least make the error descriptive enough that your target market (novices/hobbyists) could find it...

A modal QuickWatch dialog? What happened to dragging variable names to the Watch or QuickWatch window? I can only watch one variable at a time? While it is true that the new "hover tips" are nice and they let you change variable values in place, you still have to move your cursor all over the place while stepping through in order to see what's happening.

A single project per solution unless you dig down into the options and specifically say "Always Show Solution"? Stripped down documentation, but you still dedicate almost 40 help topics to obscure flags that might or might not be needed by the command line compiler, C# code and style-sheet stuff that was stripped out?

And what is a Handle clause?
Handle clause?
Did you mean "Handles clause"? I mean, when the topic is essentially copy/paste from the previous Visual Studio, I'd at least expect the name of the keyword to be right...

It seems that the motto of the Express products has been not how can we make things easier for new developers, but how can we inconvenience experienced developers and blame it on simplifying things? "We don't want the experienced guys only spending $50...no, we want them popping the extra $750!"

For example, easy would be Control-I for Insert Snippet, not Control-R, X. What novice wants to learn a double-chord for a common task for beginners? At least Edit & Continue works in VB Express...

I know that this is beta software, but you want people to enthusiastically pitch the Express SKU's to people who want to learn development. Right now, I'm not seeing anything that would make me be enthusiastic about your Express SKU. True, I am an experienced developer spoiled by Enterprise Architect, but this just doesn't seem well thought out.

1 comment:

John Morales said...

I understand the spirit of your Rants and all. But, YOU are not the target audience of the Express products.

Solutions and whatnot are not something that a hobbyist will ever need to mess with. The education path from hobbyist to professional could be worked on, but as a Pro, the features that you rely on are not necessary for a hobbyist.

And the "Unused Local Variable" warning is absolutely correct. It is dimmed in the scope but is only used in code that will never be accessed.