Zero-impact projects rock!

OK, I’ll admit it – there are actually times when I think features that we’re introducing are stupid. (Of course, they’re always someone else’s features, never my own…) One such example was the reappearance of something we call “zero-impact projects.” A zero-impact project is a project that is created on-the-fly in a temporary directory rather than being saved somewhere permanent like your Projects directory. You don’t have to create something permanent until you do something like shut down the IDE or close the project. VB6 did this, but VB7 didn’t, and I personally never thought much about it. When I found out we were doing the work to restore it, I though, “Ah, that’s dumb. Who really cares about this? All it does is save you having to pick a place for your project… Grumble, grumble.”

Well, let me publicly eat my words: munch, munch, munch. I’ve switched to VB 2005 Beta 1 full time for the stuff that I’m working on and zero-impact projects absolutely rock! One of the things I’m doing right now is updating the language specification for VB 2005 and it’s just great to be able to bring up VS, create a VB project, play around for a little while and then close down VS without having anything left behind on my computer. No more “ConsoleApplication491349” projects! I mean, I was right in one way – it’s a little thing, but, boy, it does make a difference. (The faster startup time of the IDE also helps immensely.)

If you aren’t using the VB profile, you can enable zero-impact install by clicking on the “Projects and Solutions” entry in the Tools | Options dialog and unchecking “Save new projects when created.” It’ll even work for C# projects! (Although this feature might be a little too “edit and continue”y for those C# folks… <g>)

9 thoughts on “Zero-impact projects rock!

  1. Jason Bentley

    I like the Zero-Impact project concept but a few times before I have created a new project to demo some code or a new control, wrote 20 or 25 lines of pure, error-free code ;-), ran the project and had the IDE crash. I had to re-write the code. This once happened in a last minute presentation as an in-session request and everyone had to wait for about three minutes for me to re-write what I had just done. Three minutes isn’t a long time but it is an eternity in a 30 minute sales pitch. I like the idea of a temporary project where the project files are saved in real-time to a temporary directory that the user purges whenever they feel like it.

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  2. MilesArcher

    Did Edit and Continue make it back? I tried the Express beta and I didn’t seem to work for me.

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  3. John Lam

    I’ve taken a different tack recently – I rather like keeping my "zero impact" projects around. It forms a part of a permanent library of code snippets that I can refer to when I want to understand how a particular API works.

    To make that happen, I’ve resorted to writing unit tests against the .NET frameworks. I’ve found that it’s a wonderful way of exploring new APIs. I make the assumption that the APIs work – and that test failures are are the result of my not understanding how the API works.

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  4. Bill Burrows

    In the academic world, the zero-impact project circa vb6 and earlier really caused problems. Students would end up saving their project pieces (solution file, form files, etc) all over the place. Of course on their computer everything worked because the solution file looked around and found everything. But when they turned in their assignment (via a zip file for example), the file was missing most of the code. I started giving "bonus" points for those who could submit a complete project to me :)

    In VB7, requiring the project folder be created up front was a real "feature" because it almost made it impossible to get things stored in the wrong place (notice I said "also").

    So when I saw zero-impact coming back in VB8, I was concerned. However, they way you implement it (it is different than it was done in VB 6) is great and I certainly do not miss WindowsApplication435 …

    bill [mvp]

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  5. Simptim

    Thanks for restoring an excellent feature in an improved way. Would be great if you could make upgrading VB6 code as easy as it should be too by restoring a few more of the features you took out!

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  7. simon

    yes i like the basic idea of zero impact projects.

    but for gods sake they must stop deleting the damn things.

    i didnt just lose 20 lines of code. i just lost 3 fucking hours of coding. because they decided to change the whole way things work.

    i cant fucking believe it. i am seriously going to kill somebody.

    if they have to do this they they need to fucking get it right. i am sooooooo pissed off right now its not even funny….

    dont delete without asking me. is that too hard?

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