Improving Agility in Visual Studio

What Visual Studio (2005) Professional lacks out of the box, is a good support for unit testing and build scripting. Actually, VS2005 Pro does not provide any support for it. So in case you don't want to buy the Team Edition (for testing support), looking for a free alternative, the following might be a solution.

TDD (with NUnit) is definitely at the heart of my day-to-day development process. But I was in a snit to call NUnit-GUI-Runner from the custom tools menu. Further, I needed a possibility to automate my release processes (compile, test, commit, tag, zip, name with version). On the java side of our dev world, I was used to Ant. And happily, there is a .NET alternative to crude MSBuild: NAnt.

Without going into the details of NAnt, one can say: NAnt is XML-based, easy to use, has a bunch of tasks and plugins for all sort of things (vcs's, io, vs-solution stuff, compression, ...) and can be easily extended with your own tasks/plugins. What's really cool about NAnt is the fact that it's Ant for .NET - I don't need to relearn anything and can reuse my knowledge of Ant (which is the standard build scripting system in the Java/eclipse world).

Using these visual studio addins:

saved my day-to-day dev life.

Courtesy of Eric Harth and Olivier Chekroun


Courtesy of Eric Harth and Olivier Chekroun

Running NAnt scripts is fairly easy. Running NUnit tests directly within the IDE (without buying TestDriven.NET) made my day. Both addins are written for Visual Studio 2005 (I don't know about compatibility with 2008). They are easy to install and use.

Both addins accelerated my development process a lot, because I don't need to leave the IDE any more for testing and my release process is now automated

Perhaps, one day someone ports these for VS 2008 (if they incompatible). Both are open source, so this task should be pretty easy.


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