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Visual Studio 2005: Unstable and Highly Recommended

Visual Studio 2005 started shipping in November of last year. On behalf of Dr. Dobb's, Scott Swigart recently sat down with some industry experts who use the product on a daily basis to get their impressions about product stability and usefulness. Rockford Lhotka, Billy Hollis, Bill Vaughn, and Kathleen Dollard took the time to chat with Scott on this topic. During the conversation, they describe in detail stability problems with Visual Studio 2005, and point out resolutions to many of the specific issues. It's also worth noting, up front, that despite the notable stability issues with Visual Studio 2005, the panel strongly and unanimously recommended Visual Studio 2005 over earlier versions of Visual Studio. Microsoft has also provided additional information.

DDJ: Thanks everyone for making time to talk. I wanted to get some people together who work on a wide spectrum of things. I know with this group, I've got representation for everything from stand-alone applications to distributed systems. Across this group, there's Windows Forms, Web, VB.NET, and C#. As people evaluate Visual Studio 2005, as people start using it, I figured that you would have some great advice and insight for them that might save them a lot of time and trouble. Specifically, I want to focus on the stability of Visual Studio 2005. Right after it released, there were some prominent postings indicating that the product was buggy. It's been out for a few months, you all are using it daily, what's your impression? Is there an issue around stability?
Billy H.:I'll go first. There are three significant issues that I've run into with Visual Studio 2005. One is the 99 percent CPU problem. (Editors note: While working in Visual Studio, the IDE becomes unresponsive for tens of seconds, and the CPU shows 100 percent utilization.) That seems to be fixed now. The possible things that could have been the fix for that are the hotfix, uninstalling Refactor!, and turning off edit-and-continue. (Editors note: Any issues where Refactor! was causing 100 percent CPU have since been fixed by DeveloperExpress. If you are using the latest version of Refactor! you will not experience this issue as a result of the Refactor! add-in. See the response from Microsoft for more details.) I heard from various sources that one of those things might make a difference, and in fact, at least one of them did, because I no longer see that problem.

The second problem is the Windows Forms designer loses its sanity and tells me that there's something wrong with a form. That problem has been reduced, but it's not entirely gone. It doesn't seem to be predictable, it just happens some times for no apparent reason. If I shut the development environment down, and bring it back up, it will be okay again for a while.

The third problem is when it loses its internal references, and it claims to no longer know about an assembly that is referenced. This happens regularly, and predictably, and I can pretty much play around and make it happen. It happens when I'm working with controls and extender providers. The controls appear in the toolbox, and when I drag one over to the form and drop it, sometimes this problem appears. That is frequent enough that I have to tell my audience that this is likely to happen during the course of a demonstration. I do demonstrations a lot, and it happens in front of audiences, and I shut the development environment down, and bring it back up, and the problem is gone.

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