Gentlemen Prefer Notepad and CSC

Some months ago I was chatting to my good friend Darren Neimke - we were discussing SnippetCompiler, a nifty little utility from Jeff Key for writing and running very short .NET programs. I told Darren I’d started using SnippetCompiler fairly regularly, to which Darren replied something like “why not just use notepad and CSC.exe”. Why not indeed. Since then I’ve adopted Darren’s minimalist attitude and regularly use these two whenever I need a small test application for some purpose. The great thing about notepad and CSC (or VBC if you’re that way inclined) is that they’re on every system that has .NET installed. Usually you can write out a console app more quickly in notepad and compile it from the command line than it takes to fire up visual studio, select a project type, etc. The other great benefit is by starting from scratch without intellisense and syntax hilighting you constantly remind yourself of the fundamentals of the .NET framework that visual studio sometimes causes you to gloss over. I’ll admit I sometimes have to refer to reflector for method names when I’m writing something a little longer, but its a great feeling to crack open notepad, write your little sample application in one go and then compile it from the command line without a single error. I won’t be dropping VS any time soon for real projects (even if it does rot the mind), but its great to know that you’re not 100% reliant on it.