There are many .NET developers that can’t live without Jetbrain’s R# product. I’m not really one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of R# and some of the features it offers, it’s just that it could be so much better if it didn’t keep getting in my way!

Let’s get something out of the way before I dive into what I’d like to see improved in R#: I bought my own R# license out of my own money. I do think it’s a fairly reasonably priced product for all the features it offers.

Improvements I’d like to see

  • More modularity: I work in a fairly specific environment where some of the tools R# provides don’t help at all, and in fact, I don’t need them or want them in my way.
    Hence, I’d love to see top-level options to turn off broad features. Right now pretty much only two features have this: IntelliSense and Code Analysis. I’d love to see the same for things like code formatting and the like.
  • Better options for saving/sharing settings: It’s a pain in the neck to configure R# after installing it (or keeping it configured after that). The Options dialog is a mess, and there are way too many settings and no easy way (that I can find) to export your settings to a file I can save and keep around for later installations.
    Yes, I’m aware that R# saves its settings in an external XML file you can save, but it’s stored some place I can never remember, gets overwritten and messed up all the time when running multiple VS options at the same time and I always forget to fish it out before dumping a VM or something, so it’s as if it was never there.
    Just give me a way to export/import settings; that’s a lot easier to live with.
  • Unit Testing: I’m rather happy using the test runner in R#, use it all the time. However, it would be really nice if there was a way to set it up so that the Debug option worked for mixed managed/unmanaged solutions.
    Right now, the Debug option only enables the managed debugger, but I also work with lots of code that includes managed tests over a mixture of managed and unmanaged C++ code and to debug that I always have to use the NUnit test runner instead.

Things that just piss me off

There are a few things that I can’t stand when using R#, however; to the point where I have to disable it just to get any work done without losing my mind:

  • Crashes: R# 4.5 was notoriously unstable. It would crash all the freaking time for me. R# 5.0 seems better on VS2010, but not on VS2008 to the point where the simplest reproducible crash that R# 4.5 would cause is still present in 5.0. Here’s just an example: Launch a new, empty VS2008 instance (with no auto-project opening or anything), then drag a C# file from explorer to VS. Watch VS crash and burn.
  • Stop messing with ViEmu: I’m a long time user of ViEmu, absolutely love it. However, R# often messes with ViEmu on VS2008, in particularly with the keyboard handling. The one that always causes me trouble is firing a new empty VS2008 instance and loading a solution that contains only unmanaged C++ projects, where R# shouldn’t even get involved, and watch the keyboard go all crazy on you.
    Only way to work when this happens is to disable the R# add-in temporarily, which is really annoying. I know people love R#, but for me ViEmu >>> R#. Mess with ViEmu and it’s you that’s getting canned.
  • Smarter Settings: Given my concerns about making it easier to export/import my R# settings, and my desire to disable code formatting, it’s not surprising this is an issue for me.
    See, I already have all my VS code formatting rules properly configured and persisted in my .VSSETTINGS file. Install VS again and in seconds its there. Install R# and instead of defaulting its own code formatting rules to my existing VS settings, it applies its own coding conventions. That’s just disrespectful and annoying, to be honest.

Anyway, let’s see how life with R# 5.0 goes. So far, the VS2010 integration seems nice, but I will still be primarily a VS2008 user for a long time, so it sucks a lot that stability there hasn’t improved.

Tomas Restrepo

Software developer located in Colombia. Sr. PFE at Microsoft.