There has been a clear shift in the way I use Visual Studio lately. Visual studio has a lot of built-in panels to help you develop the next killer application. There are a lot of panels I hardly ever use. Most of my time I spend, not quite surprising, in the text editor editing code. As for the other panels I may be using about 10% of all available options. Windows like the Server Explorer, Document Outline, Object Browser, I don’t think I ever opened them while developing. And I didn’t even mention the designers yet. I am a full-time web developer but I never open the HTML designer.
So I would like to propose a Visual Studio redesign, let’s just throw out all the designers and unnecessary windows (like when editing a css file lose the CSS properties, Manage Styles, CSS Outline windows) and go back to basics. Build a really good text editor. Once everything is stripped to the bare minimum add a panel which gives you direct access to the command prompt. I got this idea from a Ruby on Rails editor called RadRails. You can generate controllers, models, etc… from a panel within the IDE.
So my proposal is, stop building a huge beast with gazillion panels which tackles it all. Create a light weight text editor, let’s call it Textmate for Windows, and give users the possibility to add the tools they want to use in addition to that text editor by accessing them through the command prompt directly in the IDE.
I’ve googled around for a solution but the only posts that came near were posts which let you launch a command prompt from within Visual Studio. Not really what I was looking for. Let’s hope the Visual Studio Team has implemented this option in Visual Studio 2010…