Extensions are tools meant to make a developer’s life easier. But as with any tool, choosing the best one to invest in requires a bit of probing.
If you’re in the market for your or your team’s SaaS fix, you’re in luck. This article will make your research a bit easier. In this blog, we discuss the value of one of the most powerful productivity extensions in Visual Studio and why plugins in general are still necessary in 2022.
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What does Visual Assist do?
Visual Assist is a Visual Studio productivity plugin that is designed to help write C/C++ and C# code faster and easier.
VA does this by improving or adding built-in tools and features in Visual Studio with an efficient and a more powerful alternative. These benefits may manifest as more responsive menus, better code analysis tools, or even bespoke shortcuts that streamline complex processes into a single click.
Other articles can give a more complete explanation of what Visual Assist does, but in a nutshell, VA is a tool extension that improves a developer’s productivity.
How much is a developer’s time worth?
Not everyone realizes that time is the most expensive currency we exhaust every day. It is an indispensable and irreplaceable resource—and doubly so in the world of developers and programmers!
the average day for a developer costs a whopping $420…
Did you know that the average day for a developer costs a whopping $420? That’s around $3,000 weekly. That is why it is in the best interest of businesses and teams that the majority of a developer’s eight-hour workday is focused on actual programming. However, this also means that developers are getting pressured with shorter development cycles. A 2020 research found that codebases are increasingly getting larger, and pressure to deliver projects faster has increased in the past 10 years. And as larger and more complex codebases became the norm, demand for tools to support C++ developers has also ballooned.
Is a Visual Studio code assistant the solution?
Going back to the main question, why is investing in Visual Studio extensions necessary? VS has made leaps and bounds in usability, efficiency, and support but the advantages are reduced due to increasing project requirements and time pressure.
For example, there are still areas that lack extensive support and functionality. Game development projects, for instance, have resource-intensive tasks and unfamiliar syntax causing unintended behavior in the IDE. This unsupported niche is filled by plugins and is also why professionals need extensions to perform better.
The core of development work is problem solving—not typing, navigating, or fixing syntax errors. They are part of the work, but they should not take more time than necessary.
Visual Studio is a tool. Visual Assist is an enhancement. They are meant to simplify work and increase productivity. With increasing workloads and expectations, developers need to have more and better tools to produce quality work.
Dividing a developer’s attention into other tasks such as debugging small errors, shuffling through blocks of code, and waiting for builds to compile can stunt productivity—resulting in slower project turnaround time.
Some users may rely on native tooling, but as long as Microsoft cannot support every possible use case and application of Visual Studio, having performant plugins will still be a necessity for C/C++ developers. Besides, $129 for Visual Assist is a relatively low opportunity cost to get massive gains in productivity— making it an investment that pays for itself in as fast as two weeks.
The advantages of having Visual Assist
For those who transitioned to VS 2022, the shift to a 64-bit architecture has certainly fixed a few of the issues that long plagued the IDE. But a few problems persist to this day, such as:
- Tedious and repetitive tasks
- Superfluous processes
- Frustrating build and load times
- Unrecognized syntax and false errors
VA’s suite of features is specifically designed to alleviate these pain points with quick and responsive menus and options. “Fast performance is still one of [our] main advantages over other plugins,” notes Chris Gardner, lead developer of Visual Assist.
However, it’s also lightweight and works 100% alongside other VS plugins. “We believe it’s part of being a good member of the [plugin] ecosystem where [we] sit alongside others,” explains David Millington, a product manager of Embarcadero Technologies and Whole Tomato.
Feature Demo: example of time-saving feature (Code Inspection)
Here is a concrete example of how VA can save a ton of time. Code inspection is a nifty feature that checks code for quality issues and suggests the appropriate fixes.
The two main advantages of Visual Assist over the native refactoring options are a) it automatically suggests corrections as you’re working on it, and b) it works just as well on large codebases.
Check out Visual Assist’s code inspection in action:
Give Visual Assist a spin
If you’re still unsure whether investing into a small plugin is worth it, VA offers a 30-day trial for free. Experience it for yourself and see why VA users cannot go back to vanilla Visual Studio.