Resharper, CodeRush, Visual Assist Comparison

In the spirit of Scotty and Timmy among many others, I decided to try out these tools. Keep in mind these are my opinions, so I will qualify this once here so I don't have to keep doing that below. Also keep in mind (even when visiting the guys I linked too) that most of their comparisons are not with Resharper 1.5.

I started out with Resharper 1.5 and was impressed, although I am ashamed to say that I didn't use all the neat key combinations to aid me in my writing. I liked some of the optimizations and some of the color coding. I didn't like how long it took to load Visual Studio. For $99, I was still considering it.

After my free 30 days, I went to CodeRush 1.1. CodeRush was pretty, but I really, really hated it. It adds a lot of useless lines and animations that just distracted me with minimal aid. I landed out turning off each feature one by one, which negated any usefullness. One day I got really pissy because I wanted to name a TimeSpan “ts”, but it kept changing “ts” to some object or code construct. I know “ts” isn't descriptive, but sometimes if I don't care about something, I like to name things short. In CodeRush's defense, they have a TON of options. Personally, I think way too many. I couldn't possibly remember all those key combinations and ways of doing things. And for $250 there is no way I would buy it.

I then went to Visual Assist X 10.1 which was a total waste of time. I think all it did was color code everything in a way that made me think everything was either a comment or not used (since it uses light grey to show variables, and Resharper uses light gray to show unused variables). Don't quote me on what Assist makes light gray…I am guessing. All I know is a lot of it was light grey. If you have used Resharper or CodeRush, this seems pretty skimpy. For $99 it didn't hold a candle to Resharper. Whereas Coderush lasted about 10 days, this one lasted about 2.

All the while, Resharper's price was about to change to $149 this past April 5. So I bought it, and very glad I did.

When I reinstalled it, I took some time to try to orient myself more around the tool so that it could help me more. That was when I truly found the program to be indispensable.


4 responses to “Resharper, CodeRush, Visual Assist Comparison”

  1. You obviously didn’t use Visual Assist very carefully as it does far far more than what you gave it credit for. I’d almost think your review was slanted. I’ve used VA since 2001 in a mixed environment (C++, C#, VB, XAML) and it provides an equivalent feature set (+/- certain some proprietary features across all three tools). I’ve also used CodeRush on Delphi and C#.

    Since version 10 VA’s had full refactor capability so your 10.1 copy had refactoring built-in. Futhermore it works with far more languages (C++, Javascript, VB, etc).

    I almost want to ask if you even reviewed Visual Assist or if you’d made your mind up before even using it. Having used CodeRush in a Delphi and C# environment I have to say the entire review starts to read like a sham. I’ve seen Resharper run and the feature set in VA is pretty much exactly the same from a refactoring standpoint.

    VA’s roots are in the C++ arena so that’s where it shines the most, however it adds just as much utility as C#. In this capacity however Resharper is more focused language wise. It’s a limited use (language wise) tool where VA does all the same things and in some cases more across far more many mainstream languages.

    A good tool is one that does it job and ALL these tools do so. VA has a wider variety of uses from a supported language standpoint and to me that’s a big plus working for a company that has both C++ and C#/WPF products.

    Finally a tool is only useful if the operator understand how to use it. If you’d spent any time trying to use VA or CodeRush I’m sure you would have found that it does the job. At the very least you should have been puzzled by the fact that the Whole Tomato (VA) website flaunted a rich feature set that you somehow could not see in your install. That alone should have gotten you to ask “am I missing something.”

    BTW you can easily spend 5 min configuring your font/color scheme in Visual Assist. I certainly have never had any of the problems you’ve talked about and have used Visual Assist for 9 years. I’m currently using it in C# capacity but we have C++ code as well.

    Finally when you write reviews like this consider actually putting a bit more effort before you libel a company’s products. It’s one thing to say a product doesn’t work, but to say that you used it and it provides zero utility beyond color coating is libelous (since it’s not true) and it could cost Whole Tomato business even though its not true.

  2. Paul has said it all.. “Finally when you write reviews like this consider actually putting a bit more effort before you libel a company’s products.”
    i hope you get the time to explore the rich features VA provides.

  3. I’m only using C++…

    VisualAssist, which I use for a few years, is really excellent. According to my use, its real strength is code navigation: fast and accurate, and code completion that works the way it should. Some other features are cool too, but these 2 are awesome.
    It’s expensive, but when I see the time it saves me, I would even pay more for it.

    I tried CodeRush recently and gave up, for one big reason: it slows down the Visual editor considerably (yet, I’m using a very fast computer). Uninstalling was bad also, I add to find by myself many files and registry to eliminate.

  4. To anyone reading this review, it should be obviously that this is not a serious review. I mean really where is the review he just says I install and they blow chunks but Resharper rules…

    If I had to guess Resharper folks paid him to write this up. Trust me having attened TechEd for nearly a decade I’ve had similar offers to write a favorable review and get “free stuff” from the likes of companies like Infragistics and Telerik. Granted they want serious reviews, and this sort of fluff would never pull muster (but obviously it does for some).

    That said, I’ve used CodeRush (under Delphi, and C++) and VA (C++ and .NET) for years (VA since 1999, and CodeRush since 2002) and both are great tools. There is some truth to CodeRush’s overly WPFish and flashy interface, however it’s very powerfull.

    That said, Resharper is also a great tool. We actually switched to it on a new contract back in 2009 (version 4 and 5).

    but found that it pushes code practices that are far from idea (i.e. use var everywhere rather than sparingly, heavy push of LINQ, code obfuscation). Not that LINQ is bad, but it should, like any tool, be used wisely. about 1 year ago (early 2010) the version(s) of ReSharper that was out for about 3 months had a major memory leak that rendered them unusable in either Studio 2010 or 2008 without restarting the IDE twice per day if not more. Un-returned emails/calls became so frustrating that the way we got around the problem while we waited for a patch was just disabling the tool which hurt us productivity wise while we adjusted (about 1 week or so). This became quite frustrating. We then got burned when version 5 came out as we were faced with a 150 per developer upgrade fee to get around this major bug. Then this year we learned that our licenses, which were renewed in early 2011 would not be eligible for a free 6.0 upgrade (they made shortly before the April 26 cutoff) we decided to drop them on our project. That’s when we made the move back to VA. The version we had for early 2008 didn’t work with Studio 10, but for 50 dollars we upgrade the 20+ seats we owned and are happy as clams. Do we miss ReSharper? There are a few features that are lacking in VA, but at the same time those Re# features that were akin to a loaded gun if handled/used improperly…
    After 15 years of development, a number Resharper’s features, if used improperly, serve more as a way to obfuscate code than to make it “sharper” Those features removed, there is nothing that makes Resharper any better than the other tools.
    Case in point, one of our developers used “unwisely” and all the code it “generated” (LINQ, etc) was so obfuscated that it was unusable. When we asked him what the code did he had no idea. He’d taken simple loops that were core to our application, converted them to LINQ (because resharper complained and he didn’t know any better), obfuscated them, and slowed the application down by 25%. That said, if used sparingly and smartly said features can be powerful, but are they any better than VA or CodeRush? Not really. When you strip those “extra features out” (VA uses snippets) then ReSharper really isn’t anny cooler/better than CodeRush or VA. At the end of the day you use what works.

    That said I’ve found VA to be the least demanding on our development machines, far more stable, and more versatile. CodeRush comes in second.

    Resharper is also more expensive in the long run (150 to upgrade vs 100 for CodeRush and 50 for VA). With VA you can upgrade for 50 dollars for versions as far back as 6.0 (over 6 years old).

    In a nutshell, if you’re serious about developing any of these tools will do, but be aware that Resharper customer support is very lacking, and their tool is really no better once used. You’ll also get burned in the wallet by their horrid upgrade support/policies.
    I still use C++ occasionally or even go thru stints where a new project will be 100% C++ so CodeRush and VA are a better fit for our group. If we were in a strictly .NET C# shop I’d probably side with CodeRush, with ReSharper and VA tied for second, but based on my experience I’d probably preference VA.

    On a more fundamental level, any IDE tool that suggests developers use var everywhere (R# “warnings”) should not be taken seriously (i.e. ReSharper). However if you trust your developers to do the right thing then it can also be a great tool with many powerful features.

    To close, while I may seem conflicted, it’s because I am. I like all 3 tools. The real way to know what you need is ask what you’re doing. If there’s any chance you’d have to work in C++, then CodeRush and VA are your only option. If not, then I suggest you install each, use it for 30 days and decide based on your experience. At the same time be aware of upgrade policies (VA is the most lax and cheapest).

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