Niraj Bhatt – Architect's Blog

Ruminations on .NET, Architecture & Design

Enhancing Team’s Productivity – .NET, VS.NET

Software projects normally have a scary deadline. One way to meet them is to increase your team’s productivity. I am going to jot down few practices I have been following, & look forward to read the ones you follow:

1) Using Macros for VS.NET repetitive tasks: I normally have a complex VS.NET folder Structure & this structure gets repeated for every module added. For instance creating a new module in my current solution requires you to create about 10 folders, starting from DTO, Factories, Domain Model, Exceptions, etc. This took quite a bit of time of developers about start a new module. So I created a VS.NET macro to automate this task.

macros

2) Code Generators: I have seen many companies having a framework wherein they take care of common tasks starting from transactions to Workflows, etc. Their implementation normally revolves around Factory method or Template method patterns. If you follow this approach, using code generator you can create “Fill-In-The-Blanks” template for your developers. I don’t have a framework like this, but I have still created few code generators. I normally use NHibernate for my projects. Given it’s a fantastic tool, it takes sometime to generate mappings & corresponding classes which again might be error prone. I have created a code generator which not allows you to create mappings & classes but also creates Factories & Repositories for entities that are generated. (N.B. You can find one alternative approach to mapping files here).

3) Extracting Code Snippets: I use Snippet Designer a lot to extract common code patterns & insert them with zero effort. This definitely saves a lot of valuable time.

codesnippets

4) Tools: Though they cost we can’t program without them :)ReSharper, CodeRush, etc. I personally use ReSharper. You can also check out plugins available for these tools. You can find a good plugin here.

5) Design Techniques: I normally prefer making cross cutting concerns oblivious to developers. This includes things are Security, Transactions, Logging, etc. They help in reducing lot of developer’s key strokes. You catch my recent article on same here. You can also use techniques like Visual Inheritance, though it’s tough to get it right with WPF (for a way out you can look here).

6) Keyboard Shortcuts: Although minor this can save lot of mouse clicks. The ones I use most frequently are CTRL + K + D (Alignment), CTRL + K + C (Comment), CTRL + K + U (UnComment), F12 (Navigate to a type) (though I prefer ReSharper shortcuts over above). An awesome way to speed up with XAML editing in VS.NET is this.

7) Proper Training: I guess all of us understand the importance of this but the level to which we get it is always less. I would also recommend productivity trainings once you master the basics of a technology / framework. I have written about one such technique here.

8 ) Appropriate Hardware: I pity the developers running on 1 GB Ram with VS.NET 2008, SQL Server, Oracle, etc. (even 2 GB is less).

9) Shared knowledge base: When working with a team you find many issues are recurring. A issue solved today by one developer is faced tomorrow by another developer. Keeping a shared knowledge base for team definitely boosts productivity.

10) Builds that always work: Integration of local working copies can consume a lot of valuable time of your projects. Normally developers have a tendency to get away with their check in. Have an hour per day where developers can integrate their work (or you can have couple per week). You can automate the build to save more time, but I leave it as a personal choice considering competency & cost involved.

11) Holidays/Working hours/Re-creation: Hmm… May be I am getting into aspects which I shouldn’t be not to mention salary. So I will stop here.

Let me know what you do to gear up your team’s producitivity :) .

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