Once you have installed a C# compiler as mentioned in C# FAQ 2.1, the next process is to choose an editor to enter source codes. There are different types of editors such as Notepad, Visual C# .NET, Borland's C# Builder, and SharpDevelop. This FAQ briefly discusses each of these editors.
Notepad is an editor that many programmers commonly use. It comes with Windows and it is very easy to use. But, there are lots of disadvantages with this editor; for example, it doesn't support syntax coloring and other features such as IntelliSense. Moreover, you cannot directly compile and execute a C# program from within the editor. Although it doesn't support features such as line numbering, you can jump to a specific line of the code by using the CTRL+G shortcut.
What do you mean by IntelliSense?|
IntelliSense refers to the popping up of methods and properties according to the context. For instance, if you enter Console followed by a dot, a menu automatically pops up; it gives you all the methods and properties of the Console class. This feature is readily available in development tools such as Microsoft Visual C# .NET and third-party editors such as Borland's C# Builder.
Microsoft Visual C# .NET
Visual C# .NET is a full-featured development tool that can be accessed from within the Visual Studio .NET Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Other than C#, the Visual Studio IDE supports the development of major .NET languages such as Visual Basic .NET, Visual J# .NET, and Visual C++ .NET. In other words, it provides a single development environment for all these languages. You need to master the various elements found on the IDE—such as the Toolbox and the Properties window—apart from learning the C# language.
Can I get Visual C# .NET as a separate product?|
Yes. Microsoft sells a standard version of the product named "Visual C# .NET Standard Edition" at a reduced price. It comes with four CDs along with a printed manual. This product doesn't support advanced features such as Crystal Reports, which is available with Visual Studio .NET. This product is indeed a big boon for developers with limited budget.
Visual C# .NET provides you with the required templates and wizards for building applications. It also supports features such as IntelliSense and Dynamic Help. Dynamic Help is a new functionality that will provide you help according to the relevant situation while developing a project. It will be available only if you have installed the MSDN Library collection. Moreover, it ships with powerful debugging capabilities and automatic syntax/clause completion features. For instance, if you enter the keyword "try", remaining clauses such as catch and finally will be listed automatically on the code editor.
Where can I get the MSDN Library?|
The MSDN Library ships with all editions of Visual Studio .NET, including Visual C# Standard Edition. You will be prompted to install the library after the successful installation of Visual Studio .NET. You will get periodic updates of the library if you have subscribed to MSDN. Alternatively, you can access the library online at http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp.
The biggest advantage of using Visual C# .NET is that it significantly reduces the development time of projects by integrating all parts of a project under a single roof. Even though there are lots of benefits, Visual C# .NET is not compulsorily required for programming with C#.
In addition to the above mentioned editors, many third-party vendors have also released editors for programming with C#. In most cases, versions can be downloaded from the Web sites of the respective vendors.
One of the most popular editors is SharpDevelop. It supports syntax coloring and compilation and execution from within the development environment. With the help of this editor, you also can build Visual Basic .NET User controls and Web Services applications. You also can create XML and XSL files.
The developers of SharpDevelop have provided the complete source code for this editor under an Open Source License Agreement. The product and its source code can be downloaded from www.isharpdevelop.com.
Another editor is the Antechinus C# editor, developed by c-point.com, but it is not as popular due to its limited capabilities. You can download it from http://www.c-point.com/csharp.htm.
Some of the other popular editors are Borland C#Builder (http://www.borland.com/csharpbuilder), CodeWright (http://www.borland.com/codewright), and EditPlus (www.editplus.com). C#Builder is an independent development tool developed by Borland. You will learn more about C#Builder in a later FAQ. Codewright is an editing tool used in combination with Microsoft's Visual Studio .NET.
Even though there are many editors available on the market, it's up to you to decide which editor to use. I strongly recommend you to install one editor and learn the language completely.