Intellisense for Smart Device Project v1.0

Mon, April 25, 2005, 03:13 PM under MobileAndEmbedded
When writing Compact Framework code with VS.NET 2003, intellisense is smart enough to filter out the framework methods that do not apply to the CF. Truth be told it could be better. There are some properties shown that are not supported by the CF, yet they compile, and hence you only find out at runtime. Some of them will result in runtime exceptions (e.g. changing the Font of a UpDown control) and others will silently do nothing and have no effect (e.g. changing the Size of a StatusBar). I am not sure which outcome is worse, but I do know the methods should not have been available in the IDE in the first place, since a Smart Device Project was chosen! The help is pretty good (but certainly not perfect) at pointing out which class members are applicable to CF.

The area where the IDE is really bad is events. C# shows in the properties window the events that are applicable, but some events are shown even though they are not supported (e.g. PictureBox.Validating) and others are supported and not shown (e.g. PictureBox.Click). In the latter case the workaround is to manually add the events in code (in code there is no filtering so, whether applicable or not, the compiler lets you add event handlers). VB is much worse. As you know, the event handlers are generated by selecting the event names form the top right combobox in the code view; well that combo doesn't even make an attempt at filtering! In case you think the documentation will come to your rescue, think again: the documentation makes no statement about the applicability of events to the CF or not.

To complicate things further, there have been 3 service packs for CF 1.0 and all of them apply to the runtime *not* the VS IDE. Since the SPs, some properties (e.g. BackColor) are available. None of these are shown in the properties window but you have to manually use them through code.

At this point you might be expecting me to offer some solution. Sorry, but there is only one way to face this issue: try out your code before you make assumptions about what is supported or not.

VS2005 is a whole different (more pleasant) story and we'll look at that next time.
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