The Future of IntelliSense

Here’s a blog post by Jim Springfield at Microsoft about IntelliSense in Visual Studio 10

I like to hear that IntelliSense is going to be fixed, but I’ve been hearing that for many versions of Visual Studio now, and I have a hard time believing it.  IntelliSense for C++ code has always been unreliable in the projects I’ve used it on (generally massive MFC applications).

Remember a product called Lookout?  It was a very fast, reliable search engine for Outlook.  Microsoft bought it.  I don’t know why they bought it, because they obviously didn’t use it – with Office 2007 on Vista, searching email is not fast and not reliable. 

For C++ users of Visual Studio there’s a tool called Visual Assist X, which is a fast, reliable IntelliSense replacement for Visual Studio.  It extends Visual Studio in a lot of ways, many of which don’t require any changes to your workflow.  For example, if you have a pointer and you type “pMyPtr.” as soon as you type the period, it will be replaced with a “->”.

One particular improvement VAssistX makes to IntelliSense that I find very useful, is you can type “pMyWnd->size” and list that appears as you type “size” includes all the relevant symbols that contain the word “size”, not just ones that start with it.

I’d love to see VAssistX become obsolete with Visual Studio 10, but I’m not holding my breath.  I just hope Microsoft doesn’t buy them, so that if Microsoft’s improvements don’t deliver, Whole Tomato still can.