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I need a bit of input from people who have used both of these programs. I am using Visual Studio Express 2010 right now for creating a project in and WPF 4. I just discovered a freeware IDE called IC#Develop, which apparently supports both of those formats.

Has anyone used both, and if so, what are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Which would you recommend? Is IC#Develop a good alternative to the very expensive Visual Studio Ultimate?

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I think it's just SharpDevelop(#Develop), not IC#Develop. – Mahmoud Hossam May 4 '11 at 17:20
I'm confused... IIRC VS Express (either versions) can be used to develop with WPF... what exactly is the problem? – Steve Evers May 4 '11 at 18:01

6 Answers 6

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I have used both and much prefer Visual Studio. The reason I tried SharpDevelop was because the Express editions of VS didn't allow for Window Service projects. Since you own a software company, you should check out BizSpark from Microsoft. They give you VS 2010 Ultimate along with a whole lot of other useful stuff (such as MSDN subscription).

Personally, I was able to get VS 2010 Professional because I'm enrolled in school (so far one of the best things about my MSCS program :) ). I don't know if I could do anything .Net related in anything BUT Visual Studio!


Here are reasons why I like VS over SharpDevelop (after all, it helps to answer the OP's question huh?:))

  • VS is more aesthetically pleasing
  • I knew VS from the express editions, so it is one less thing to learn
  • I felt SharpDevelop was slower than VS and I didn't like it
  • SharpDevelop couldn't handle F# (when I tried it, it was a mess). VS Shell and F# worked for me though.
  • VS Shell allows for other language support (IronPython, IronRuby, etc.)

The benefits of SharpDevelop - It allows you to do projects that VS Express Editions don't. For example: windows service - It is free...completely - It has a bunch of other language support built in

If I wasn't able to get a free version of VS 2010 Pro, I may have eventually switched over to SharpDevelop, but chances are I would've stuck with the Express editions and used workarounds to do what I needed (such as using Entity Framework in Visual Web Developer and then creating a library and importing it into Visual C# Express)

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I've signed up for BizSpark. Thanks for the info and the link. – JasonMc92 May 6 '11 at 23:27
@JasonMc92 - You're welcome. Good luck! – Jetti May 7 '11 at 2:55

I am using VCS-Express 2008 and #Develop 4.0 at home and the professional version (2010) on the job. I have no experience with Visual Basic Express or MonoDevelop.

 > Which would you recommend?

You can use express and #Develop both together they can read each others sln/csproj files.

 > what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

written from memory, i am shure that i forgot many issues

Pro #Develop

  • Integration of unittesting,
  • Sourcecontrol (svn, git),
  • codeanalyses (fxcop),
  • codecoverage
  • crosstranslation between c# and vb
  • can read, process, compile projectsubtypes
  • Projectsettings allow configuration of
    • obj-outputfolder. (to keep the sourcefolder free of generated stuff) This works with msbuild but visual-studio cannot process this.
    • bin-outputfolder. (to keep the sourcefolder free of generated stuff)
    • seperate debug/release config
  • Does not enforce sln-upgrade when reading old project-formats

Limitations of #Develop

  • less advanced Refactoring support.
  • less advanced gui wpf-designer
  • limited support for web-gui-s
  • I donot know wehter there is support for mobile apps, silverlight, Razor

Pro VCSExpress

  • easier for novice-user to learn language and classlibs than #Develop
  • better refactoring tools
  • Projectsettings allow configuration of
    • bin-outputfolder.
    • seperate debug/release config is possible but you must enable advanced settings to reach this

Limitations of VCSExpress

  • cannot read, process, compile unknown projectsubtypes ("Not availabe" in project explorerer)
  • no Solution-Level-Folders but support for Project-Level-Folders
  • no plugin support
  • Limited Server-Explorer (only Microsoft-Databases)
  • No integrated support Unittesting, Codecoverage, Sourcecontrol
  • Cannot debug library-only with non-source-code-Exe calling it (Debug via external Program)
  • Enforce sln-upgrade when reading old project-formats. After that you cannot open the sln/csproj with the old visual studio-version after processing it with a newer visual studion

Conclusion: On the job i need VS Professional because of source-control integration with ms-tfs.

At home i donot need vs-professional because express+#Develop can do all i need

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VS Express is entry level developer tool from Microsoft. It has very carefully selected features which allow you to do basic development but don't offer you some productivity tools or advanced features (to force you buying commercial version). One of the very missing feature is plugin support - plugins support in Express edition is very limited. No Power tools, no other languages or tools (including betas), no Resharper, no reflector, no integrated unit tests (either NUnit or MbUnit - well this can be hacked by running external tool), etc. The main advantage is that VS environment is same for all versions so switching to higher version is piece of cake (switching to lower version is very annoying).

SharpDevelop is open source product. You can extend it, you can download and install plugins, some companies use it as hosting environment for their own products / editors. It has rich feature set (including many features available only in commercial versions of VS). Feature comparison.

My conclusion: If you are common .NET developer looking for standard tools you will use VS Express - you will get the latest features and standard environment used in the most companies. If you are geek looking for something different, you don't like MS, you like browsing or changing your environment's code, or you want to develop for Linux as well you will probably check SharpDevelop.

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One might point out there are no plugins to the quality of Resharper for #Developer. If you want the closest thing to a full fledge .NET suite, using VSExpress is the way to go, besides Microsoft offers tons of ways to get free and reduced versions of Visual Studio. Visual Studio Pro is all ANYONE needs, and if they need more, then well #Developer doesn't fit their requirement either. – Ramhound Dec 7 '11 at 19:04

Why exactly do you need Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate instead of say a cheaper edition of it?

There is nothing wrong with Sharp Developer. Unless you have a team foundation server or some other need of the other versions features specfically ( like being able to edit your code while you debug ) you don't need anything other then Visual Studio C# Express.

It sounds like you are just starting to learn these languages, if you are student, you can get certain versions of Visual Studio for 100%.

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I own a software company, so I'm finding an increasing need for VS 2010 Ultimate (especially due to my increasing dependence on WPF, as VSU is packaged with Expression Blend.) I'm just wondering if Sharp Developer would be a legit alternative to VSU. – JasonMc92 May 4 '11 at 17:17
Unless you have a Team Foundation Server you don't actually need Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate. The professional version which has nearly all the same features as Ultimate should meet your needs. I don't know if VS2010 Professional packages Expression Blend since I personally have the Ultimate edition at work and at home. – Ramhound May 4 '11 at 19:19
@JasonMc92 SharpDevelop doesn't come packaged with Expression Blend, so that should rule it right out if that's what you're concerned about. – Adam Lear May 4 '11 at 21:24

The reason VS ultimate costs so much is all the "other" stuff you get with it, basically Team Foundation server and access to just about every OS and product that Microsoft produces. If you NEED access to all those things, like you're doing Sharepoint Development like I am, well, even then there are cheaper solutions, but if you really need EVERYTHING then go for it. If you just want to right desktop apps in CSharp, then Sharp Develop or CSharp Express is a much lower barrier to entry.

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I think your talking about MSDN or TechNet subscription. The price you pay for Visual Studio Ult is just for Visual Studio Ult. You are right, that extra cost does get you the ability to communicate with a Team Foundation Server. – Ramhound Dec 7 '11 at 19:07

ICSharpDevelop dates from an era where there was no free SKU for Visual Studio. At this point, if I wanted to go free and not MS, I would veer towards MonoDevelop as that also opens some cross-platform doors. Or I'd use one of the free VS SKUs. But I wouldn't settle in the middle.

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