n Monday morning, S. “Soma” Somasegar, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for the developer division, made the unexpected announcement, via his official MSDN-hosted Web log (http://blogs.msdn.com/somasegar/), that C# will get the much-loved edit-and-continue (E&C) feature in Visual Studio 2005. While it has been known for some time that E&C would be brought back to VB.NET in the upcoming 2005 version of the language, until today, Microsoft had said E&C would not be in C#.
For those who came to .NET from languages other than VB.NET, E&C was one of the most popular features of classic VB, allowing programmers to alter code while debugging applications. Without E&C, the debugging process requires one to stop the application, alter the code, recompile, restart the application, and then navigate through it to reach the altered point in the runtime. Unfortunately, Microsoft left this productivity feature out of the original and subsequent point update releases of VB.NET, but has long promised that it will return next year in the next major version?the release of the .NET framework 2.0 and Visual Studio 2005.
Having done the work to get E&C into VB.NET, it seems Microsoft is undertaking the logical step of making it work in C# as well, sooner rather than later. As many new .NET developers and thousands of ex-VB6 developers have adopted C#, this is a welcome announcement that helps prevent feature barriers from arising between C# and VB.NET developers. It’s one thing to shift back and forth between .NET languages when the major difference between them is syntax, and quite another to switch when the fundamental way people work within the languages is different.
The addition of E&C to both languages helps maintain their parity, simplifies using and learning both, and limits the effort and ink expended by people who would prefer to think that one’s inherently better than the other. I, for one, am relieved not to have to read the endless posts about how VB.NET 2005 is better than C# because it has E&C. Of course, we’ll probably have to read other endless posts from those who don’t believe E&C is a good development practice.
The only bad news is that it won’t work for ASP.NET ( http://blogs.msdn.com/somasegar/archive/2004/10/15/242853.aspx#243297 ), but MS plans to support E&C for both C# and VB.NET in the Express Edition of VS 2005 as well as the full versions.