Product Reviews

AppsChannel Code Drop

It's always nice to see a product that tries something new. In the case of Code Drop, AppsChannel has taken the simple notion of drag and drop and revved it up into a useful .NET coding tool. Code Drop is an add-in for the Visual Studio .NET IDE. It installs four separate windows: Code Explorer, Object Explorer, Variable Explorer, and Object Grid.

Code Explorer is the heart of the product. It presents a library of hundreds of code snippets sorted by functionality -- everything from declaring a variable to setting up a new subroutine to iterating through command-line arguments. Choose a snippet and drag it to your code to get that bit of code inserted. So far, that's the same way that many code library products work. What distinguishes Code Drop is its "smart tag" variables. For example, if you're iterating through command-line arguments, there's a variable used as the iterator that appears several times in the code. Don't like the automatically-generated name? Just type in your own variable name, drag it on top of any instance in the code -- and every instance is changed to the name you chose. You can also create your own code snippets, specify which variables in them should be "smart", and organize them into hierarchical categories.

Object Explorer and Variable Explorer add the ability to do similar drag and drop with the objects and variables in your application. Use them, and you don't have to worry about spelling a class name wrong. The final piece, Object Grid, lets you drag an object variable from code to the grid to see its properties. You can then edit properties in the grid and drag the changes back to your code.

The implementation is still a bit rough around the edges (the help file in particular seems to be a work in progress, and at times the Object Grid refused to admit that I'd dragged a valid variable to it), but overall it works well. If you're willing to learn a new way to work, I can see two important niches for this product. First, if you're trying to come up to speed on either VB .NET or C# (the two languages supported in this first release), having a pile of high-quality code snippets to start from can't hurt. Second, the ability to add your own snippets with smart tags means that you can use Code Drop to build up a corporate code repository of standard code.

[This review originally appeared in

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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