So far, the first two comments I’ve gotten on my blog have been asking essentially the same question, “What is C# Express?” This seems like a good indication that I should try to explain what you are getting when you go and download C# Express.
First off, Visual C# Express is only for writing Windows applications in C#. For web applications, you can use Visual Web Developer Express, and for other languages, there are Visual Basic Express, Visual J# Express and Visual C++ Express.
That said, here is a rundown of some of the things you’ll find in C# Express. Please note that this is a beta , so by the time the Express products are released, there may be some new features added, and there may be some features trimmed down to enhance the experience.
C# Express includes almost all the cool editor features you’ll find in higher end Visual Studio products. For instance:
- Support for the C# 2.0 language, including new language features like generics.
- Full IntelliSense, including all the new IntelliSense features that have been added in the 2005 version.
- Code Snippets, a new 2005 feature that lets you insert common blocks of code instantly, for instance property definitions.
- Some Refactorings, such as intelligently renaming a field or extractinging a method. There are a few additional refactorings which are not available in C# Express.
- And so many more…
The debugging environment has been streamlined a little to provide a simpler and easier to use debugger without all the windows that you are likely to never use. For instance, we have taken the disassembly window out, and cut back to having only one watch window instead of four. C# Express does have all of the debugging features you use (or will use) all the time like:
- Watch window
- Call stack
- Data Tips (hover over your code while in debug mode to see what these are)
- Visualizers (click on the little magnifying glass in the watch window to see what these are)
- And many more…
Windows Forms Designer
The Windows Forms designer in C# Express is the fully functional designer from other versions of Visual Studio. All of the form layout and databinding features are available in C# Express along with some of the new features in 2005 like:
- Smart tags to help you do common tasks with your controls.
- A bunch of new controls
- Strongly typed resources
- Settings designer
With the included SQL Server Express, you can write applications that connect to a local database. See the VSData team’s blog for details about this. And with full support for consuming webservices, you can easily write applications that talk to Amazon, Google, or any of the other thousands of webservices out there.
Some Things You Won’t Find in C# Express
Although it is a very full featured environment, there are some things you won’t find in C# Express that you would find in other Visual Studio products.
- Source control
- Add-ins and Macros
- Class Designer
- ClickOnce deployment
- Remote debugging
- Mobile development
- Unit testing
If these are features you use a lot, C# Express probably won’t be the right development tool for you. However, if you are looking for a great small tool for writing C# Windows applications, C# Express will be a great choice.
But why trust me, go download the beta and see for yourself! Then come back here and let me know what you think.