Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Handy editor tweaks with SlickEdit Gadgets

I'm fairly conservative when it comes to additional IDE add-ins (Visual Studio has enough going on without throwing in the kitchen sink), but I came across a very interesting little library the other day; SlickEdit Gadgets - and just have to share. Best done with an image:

SlickEdit Gadgets showing a line ruler, indentation guide, and editor graphic

What we can see here is:

  • an "indentation guide" (the vertical dashed line) - very handy for "at a glance" indentation checks - which (if your code follows any kind of convention) means that you can also get an immediate clue to the nesting of the current line. Much easier than trying to brace highlighting, or the confusing mess of lines that some tools insert - just move to the line you are interested in, and "presto".
  • a "line ruler" (the horizontal highlight) - again, tied to the current line, but giving a very visual cue where we are. Much easier than trying to play "hunt the caret" (which is not a euphemism). In particular, I see this as being useful for anyone doing pair/team programming, or giving presentations - no more mouse-waggling / laser-pointer-tag trying to indicate a specific line.
  • an "editor graphic" (the coffee cup) - an image of your choice right there in the editor window... maybe not hugely desirable on a day-to-day basis, but maybe a sweet gimmick when giving external presentations - perhaps put the user-group's / code-camp's logo up there as a reminder. Or not ;-p

As you might expect, there are suitable options for styling (colour, animation, etc). There are a few other tools too (not shown) - including an in-IDE file explorer, automatic "copy", a tool for sniffing the IDE commands, etc.

But most importantly, these tools are freely available.

I also intend to take a look at their actual Visual Studio products at some point - the Editing Toolbox / Versioning Toolbox; in particular, the SVN integration looks like it might actually be usable (unlike a few I've tried - hence I currently use the excellent TortoiseSVN in explorer). The prices don't look too terrible (but it is a little odd that there isn't a bundle for the pair).