Monday, 19 April 2010

Visual Studio 2010 Hanging On Splash Screen (Add-in problems)

Last week, in the middle of a manic week of Microsoft TechDays Visual Studio 2010 finally got released to manufacturing (RTM'ed) and being conveniently 'between contracts' with no client software dependencies needed on my main PC, it seemed a good time to install it.

I hit a problem just after I installed the Silverlight Tools for Visual Studio 2010 which went to 'Release Candidate 2' status just a few days later. Visual Studio 2010 would 'hang' on the splash screen. Task Manager showed no sign of Visual Studio on the Application tab but the Processes tab showed devenv.exe stuck at 50% CPU and nothing would happen until I killed the process.

A quick search on 'Bingle' (;-)) showed several reports of others having a similar problem - but only with earlier versions of Visual Studio, and none of the causes seemed relevant to my particular situation. I suspected that something about the Silverlight Tools installation had gone wrong.

In the event it was not the Silverlight Tools that were the source of my problems, but the combination of a couple of third party add-ins.

Three Visual Studio add-ins I use are JetBrains Resharper, Red Gate Reflector Pro and NDepend 3. All are excellent tools that worked fine in Visual Studio 2008 and which I've come to rely on when writing my code. In different ways they all help me write better quality code and whenever one of them isn't available I tend to miss it.

Removing the add-ins one by one it initially appeared that Red Gate Reflector Pro was the cause of the problem, so I removed the add-in, raised a support call and was able to work pretty much as normal.

Red Gate responded very quickly to my support call. 'Was I by any chance using NDepend?' they asked. Well yes, I was. 'Have you got the latest version? There was a point release update to NDepend 3 which fixed a co-existence problem'. A quick test, removing NDepend and then adding back Red Gate Reflector Pro proved that it was actually running the two add-ins together that was the cause of my frozen splash screen.

I hadn't updated my copy of NDepend 3 since it had first been released. There is a message box on the visual panel that indicates if you are using the latest version or not, and this was indicating that I was on the latest version. Of course it turned out that this was an early bug - one fixed in a later release, but one which I hadn't downloaded because I wasn't aware of it.

Sure enough, downloading the latest release (from 15th April) fixed all the problems and I'm now able to use all my add-ins with Visual Studio 2010 which I'm loving (apart from the very slow start-up time which seems much worse than Visual Studio 2008).

Although the experience was initially disconcerting I must say I was very impressed with the swift responses from the producers of those third party add-ins. A couple of tweets about the problems and Stephen from Red Gate and Patric from NDepend were immediately in touch. That their products are working, and working well, with the latest version of a complex, largely rewritten, IDE on the day it finally released is pretty impressive by any standard. Well done to both!

I still have one problem with Visual Studio 2010 add-ins. JetBrains Resharper 5 flags false errors in even the most basic XAML. This is a step backwards from the 4.5 release in my view, but the portents for the problems being fixed are good - the company contacted me on a Sunday after I tweeted about how the new release seemed to be a step backwards for Silverlight developers, and Support officially contacted me first thing Monday morning. I'm optimistic they'll fix the issues I've reported (they've already fixed a problem with their web site which I reported at the same time) on a timely basis.

If only vendors in walks of life other than Visual Studio add-in tools were so speedy and pro-active when it came to offering their customers support. The world would be a much more stress-free place!


Manjuke Fernando said...

I am also having the same issue.. Is there a way of fixing it ? I tried by removing the Reshaper, but did not work. Is there a way of fixing the issue ?

Ian said...

Impossible to say with the information provided. What other add-ins are you running? Are they up-todate versions? My problem was caused by NDepend and needed a fixed release from them to sort out.