Lame Support for XML Code Snippets Visual Studio 2008

As I’ve been working my way through the Silverlight & XAML landscape inside of Visual Studio I’ve come to realize how much better tools like TextMate, InType & E are at editing straight text.

I was reminded of this today when I was trying to create a simple code snippet for XAML. I whipped up a quick little snippet and went to use it how I always do, by typing the shortcut then pressing TAB. Well, I tabbed and nothing happened. OK, something happened, I got a tab, which I didn’t expect at all. It should have expanded my code snippet. TAB TAB just got me two tabs and while I could get it using the highly awkward Ctrl + K, Ctrl + X that seemed just as much work as actually typing it so I ignored that.

After much searching I discovered that I need to put the angle bracket first and then I could get my tab completion to work. This about blows my fragile little mind since one of the best uses of snippets is to avoid typing those silly brackets in the first place. I can almost see how the decision was made to require a bracket but it only makes sense from a engineering stand-point, not a usability one. It completely ignores the fact that angle brackets are not the easiest things to type quickly.

My solution to all of this is two-fold. First, once I get to Microsoft I’m going to hunt down the XAML IDE team and second to stop using Visual Studio 2008 for editing XAML. I’ve setup a good handful of snippets in InType and discovered something odd yet not all that surprising: I can build a full XAML UI by hand in Intype faster than I can do it in Blend and much faster than using Visual Studio. Anyone that hand-codes HTML won’t be too shocked by this because it’s fairly common knowledge that a skilled HTML coder can bust out a page faster in a good text editor than in Dreamweaver.

I really hope the Visual Studio IDE team is looking hard at the new wave of tools like Intype & E, they really are that much more productive.