Tuesday, May 30, 2006

C#, first impressions

After several years of developing exclusively in Java, I recently ventured into the .Net/C# world. At a first glance, C# is eerily similar to Java. C# is not exactly Java, but almost.

As for the development environment, I was expecting Visual Studio to be spiffier than Eclipse or IDEA. I don’t think that is the case. Surprisingly, the automated doc support, the equivalent of Java’s javadoc, appears to be a second class citizen. Given that javadocs are such an essential component of the Java platform, it was a little unsettling to see the relative “lack” of support for automated doc generation in C#.

As far as the language is concerned, here what I like in C#
- switch statements accept strings as their input variable,
- checked arithmetic operations
- delegates
- verbatim strings
- partial types
- and did I mention delegates?

On the other hand, there are many things in C# that bother me:
- automated doc generation
- the PascalCase convention for methods and fields instead of camelCase
- the continued madness of operator overloading,
- structs
- the optional nature of exceptions
- "using" directive
- three different equality primitives, surpassing even JavaScript in incoherence.

Given the similarity between the languages, none of the above really matters if the development tools are not up to par. The Java world is blessed with excellent tools like Eclipse or IDEA. However, Visual Studio could hardly be qualified as shabby.

Given that two environments are roughly equivalent, I believe that we are witnessing a game of endurance between two camps, Microsoft, a company with deep pockets on one side, and a large number heterogeneous actors, from the single open source developer up to behemoths like IBM, on the other.

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