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VS2005 Woes

4: Adsense

I'm having a very mixed experience with VS2005.

The look is nice, aside from the toolbars, which just look dull. (Why does Microsoft have this compulsive need to invent a new way to render toolbars every year?) I really like the new Start Page over the VS2003 launch mode. The installation was fast (compared to VS2003) and easy, without any weird Prerequisite steps. One thing I never understood about VS2003 was why the Prereqs CD has to be run first even though the "Disc 1 - Install" CD says to put it in first. Seems like a silly oversight, and at least that kind of goofiness is gone in 2005.

Other than that, though, I hate it so far. The install failed to properly register solutions to open in VS2005, so all my code tries to open in VS2003, which of course can't read the new solution files. The new "Repair File Assocations" feature is nice, but didn't work - .sln files remain stoically associated with VS2003. I had to do some manual registry tweaking to get that to go away.

So once I could actually open solutions, I went to do some compile testing to see how things look. I had to do some twiddling with Include and Library paths, which is somewhat to be expected with all the SDKs I use, although I must say I'm disappointed that nobody at Microsoft has yet realized that they can import my old settings. Every time I upgrade VS, I dream that I won't have to redo all of my personalization. Every time, I'm disappointed.

I had to go back through all the menus, toolbars, and little tear-off panes and arrange them the way I like. I can understand some things not being importable from prior versions, but it's just a nuisance to have to redo all of it. That's all one-off migratory pain, though, which I'm willing to let slide, disappointing though it may be.

The real kicker is that IntelliSense now sucks. Approximately every 2 minutes, VS2005 will "Update IntelliSense." This process takes about 35 seconds to a minute on a project the size of the one I'm working on, and totally pegs the CPU for the duration. It doesn't background it, doesn't thread it to keep it from deadlocking VS - the entire IDE is dead and the rest of my system is sluggish until the update finishes. There is no button or key that will cancel it as near as I can tell.

As if that wasn't bad enough, it also does this spontaneously during builds. What the HELL, Microsoft? How can you not think to disable CPU-intensive tasks during a build? I can't even change build settings for other build configurations while a compile is going on, but somehow it slipped your minds that "updating IntelliSense" during a build is really stupid?

But wait! It gets even better! About 60% of the time, this "update" process totally kills VS. That's right - dead. Locked. Frozen. Kaput. Open task manager again, end process. This has apparently already been investigated and fixed according to the public VS bug tracker. The "workaround" is to remove a DLL so that the entire IntelliSense subsystem fails to run. Err... sorry, no, that's not going to cut it. I may as well use Notepad at that point. IntelliSense controls statement completion, class hierarchy generation, and apparently a bunch of other stuff, because disabling it basically turns VS into a glorified brick.

I want to like VS2005. I really do. Hell, I want to love it. The function caller/callee diagramming stuff is just awesome, and the OpenMP support is very much important for our future plans.

Sadly, though, until we get SP1, I think I'm going to be forced to hate it.

Feb 16 2006 09:33 AM
I feel your pain [smile]

I've been using VS'05 since the day after it was released, and my experience hasn't been as bad as yours but it could have been better.

I don't understand your file association problems. I have Visual Studio 6, 2003 and 2005 installed here - and they happily coexist. "sln" files even open up in the correct version - a 2003 "sln" opens up in VS'03 and a 2005 "sln" opens up in VS'05. I dunno how they do that, but it struck me as a neat little trick [smile]

I read somewhere that because the compiler is generally better at understanding complex code structures (e.g. heavyweight template stuff - STL/Boost etc..) it confuses Intellisense even more. That is, the previous versions of intellisense were better because it freaked out and ignored the complex code [lol]

Although, updating intellisense does seem to be a threaded action in my case. I've not had any actions stall/lock the IDE up - I can quite happily carry on doing stuff whilst waiting for it to build and so on...

However, I have noticed that the IDE gets very sluggish after prolonged usage. I'm not sure quite what it is - but it just feels slow, and there is a very slight delay on key presses. Just like my computer was suddenly running like an old CPU [oh]

Feb 16 2006 09:45 AM
.sln files are associated with a stub utility that scans them, checks the version number, and forwards the file to the correct installed version of VS. It's a very slick little job and it's a fantastic idea. They even managed to get the version number of the .sln to show in the little icon in Explorer (try it - set the view mode of a folder with a .sln file to Icons. I get a little 7 or 8 in the corner of the icon). That is some cool attention to detail. I just wish the VS team applied their energies to things like settings imports or not having IntelliSense vomit on anything larger than a 3-file, 100KB project.

The stub thing is very odd; if I manually invoke the stub (using the path that is associated in the registry) it works, but a double-click from Explorer doesn't. I think it may be a peculiarity of my setup, though, because I've seen other programs barf on file associations too, and never figured out what's going on. I think I borked something with TweakUI a while back.

Maybe I'm just due for a total OS reinstall, but I really can't afford that kind of time expenditure right now.

Performance in general is great; load times are down from VS2003, builds are nice and don't grind up the entire system like they used to, and source control integration is smoother than ever. But the IntelliSense update is just crap. I find it hard to believe that nobody ever tested this on nontrivial projects, so I have no idea how such a terrible glitch made it through beta and into production. Such is life, though.
Feb 16 2006 10:07 AM
I feel your pain. On my projects (both personal and at work), i've noticed that it updates regularly and slowly, too. The difference being, i never noticed it slowing down compilation, and it doesn't crash/freeze my VS2005. There are a few things i don't like too, but now i'm getting used to it, it's not that bad.

I think my main complain would be this: when adding files to your project space, it automatically checks the files out in source safe. But i just want to add them to my project space, not modify them. So once it's done, i have to check them all in asap.
Feb 16 2006 11:42 AM
VS2003 did that to me, too. Thankfully there's an Undo Checkout button that relieves the annoyance of that.
/ Anonymous Poster
Nov 21 2006 11:31 AM
Did any one ever find a REAL solution for the Intellisense VS 2005 IDE lockup problem? If so, please post it. Thanks much

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