June 13, 2007

Visual Studio as platform - expensive (no more) and obscure

Victor Garcia Aprea, the guy behind VSSDK Assist writes about his experience and vision of extending Visual Studio.

My Love / Hate relationship with Visual Studio:

Visual Studio is a tool I love to use.

Visual Studio is a tool I hate to extend.

Enough said. Ditto.

In another post, Dreaming of a huge Visual Studio Community, Victor says basically he's very pessimistic about Visual Studio community:

What is the hardcore way of extending Visual Studio: VSIP.

And what are the first things that come to mind when you think of “VSIP”: expensive and obscure. Expensive because it used to be 10k/year and obscure because its COM roots and it’s very poor (close to inexistent) documentation.

You tell me how do you build a huge community around expensive and obscure? You just simple can’t. I believe the past years were more than enough to prove this.

Can you build a community around VSX? Although this is surely an improvement over expensive and obscure, IMO, this is still not enough.


Because all of the “obscure” it’s still there. Because you still need to mess with COM interfaces all the time and the versioning craziness like “IVsComponentEnumeratorFactory3” and native structures and enumerations that were coded when naming like “__VSMEPROPID2. VSMEPROPID_LAST2” made any sense. Let alone the VBisms you can find in today’s DTE automation layer (like indexes starting at 1 instead of 0, etc). Also, I don’t want 45 different and incompatible ways of doing the same thing.

Well, again, I feel the same way. While VSIP is free now, I believe Microsoft already missed the chance to make Visual Studio the development platform of choice for masses. Think about it - when Eclipse didn't exist yet, Microsoft already had fully extensible rich Visual Studio platform, but they were stupid enough to make it fully closed, very complex and stunningly expensive. No wonder everybody loves extending Eclipse platform and even gurus hate extending Visual Studio.