Too much information or the philosophy of "less is more" ....

Posted Thu, Dec 20 2007 14:29 by bill

On Monday night I was walking along the streets in Melbourne heading out to give a presentation on VB 2008.  while waiting for some pedestrian lights I noticed this guy standing outside St George's bank with signs all over him. He had newspaper clippings, and what looked like stories scribbled over backboards plastered to himself.  In the 90 seconds or so that anyone would be waiting it was too much information to get his message across.  Instead of getting a message across to people, he frankly looked more like a loon ;)  I'm not sure what his actual message was, but I imagine it would be about loans or similar.  So he should have focused on that. Perhaps one big slogan, "St George heartless to customers" or "St George at the heart of sub-prime". 

Anyway, it resonated with me when I saw this guy failing to get his message across as I headed out to give a presentation myself ;)  The good news is from the accounts I heard, my brief presentation went well.  I loved hearing folks say that it convinced them to use VB in 2008 :)  And all within a 20 minute presentation !!

But here, I've probably rambled too much, because the message I wanted to get across to people isn't about any of the above, other than the "less is more" concept.  What I wanted to talk about was Code Snippets and that you should go through what is there, modify them, remove them; get a list that you are comfortable with.  I was just watching Brian Beckman And Beth, and saw that together they couldn't find the snippet for adding an operator overload.  They were close at one point; they just had to scroll.  Unfortunately VB comes with so many it's hard to know them all, and time consuming to wade through them looking for one.

Some things you can do are:

  • try guessing the shortcut.  For example, for operators if you guess "op" for starters and type in op? and press tab, you'd find the operator overloading snippets. Likewise for property, if you type prop? and press tab you'll find the shortcuts for most property snippets.
     
  • Create your own folder for snippets, and organize your favourite snippets in there. This is pretty easy to do with the snippet editor, and you can just drag and drop the snippets around

Long term, I'd like to see snippets propagated into the normal intellisense, and concepts like most frequently and most recently used worked into the snippet shortcut menus as well as the snippet hierarchical views.

If you have some spare time over the holiday season do spend some of it looking at snippets, templates and customising the IDE. Streamline your experience for you.  Just as a woodsman sharpens his axe before he fells a tree, you should take that time to sharpen your IDE experience.  Don't be left fumbling around trying to find a snippet :)

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