Visual Studio 2005 - Class Designer

The Visual Studio 2005 class design feature (formerly known as "Whitehorse") is priceless. I am the PM on a large project at work and I use this tool everytime a major feature is added or a design change has been made to the code base. It allows me to see the architecture from a glance starting from any class I wish. I do this for each major piece of code that gets changed during the development process. I can quickly discover the object model using UML diagrams, whereas before I had to look at massive amounts of code and try map it out in my head instead.

The way I typically use the class diagrams is by finding a single class that interests me in the solution explorer and right clicking on it. From there I simply choose the "Add to Class Diagram" menu item. Now I have the option to show all derived members, view any object as an association, extract interfaces and much more. Once I get the diagram that is most effective for me, I can then export it to an image for reports or presentations or I can just save it into the solution for later review. The class designer is ideal for anybody that wishes to get a "birds-eye-view" of an assembly, a namespace, or even a single class. It is a great tool for nerdy people like me who just like to interogate large projects and discover the design patterns in their free time. :)

If you haven't used it, then you are missing out on a lot. It is great tool for mapping your code base visually and can save you lots of time when getting acquainted with new code. It is also invaluable for refactoring large proejcts. I especially like the fact that I can drill into the code for any member of an object and the UML is updated in real time.

The reason that I decided to blog about it is because I found myself looking for this feature in Visual Studio 2003 and realized that couldn't do it as easily. Yeah... Visio has an Add-In, but it seems to be more of a hassle for me than anything. The more time I spend in the VS 2005 IDE, the more and more I hate reverting to VS 2003 projects. 

Print | posted on Tuesday, March 28, 2006 4:20 PM