Group Completion in MonoDevelop 2.4

In our Beta for MonoDevelop 2.4 we introduced a new feature designed to help developers better explore a new API.

Many developers use the IDE code-completion as a way of quickly navigate and explore an API. There is no need to flip through the documentation or Google for every possible issue, they start writing code and instantiating classes and the IDE offers completion for possible methods, properties and events to use as well as small text snippets describing what each completion does as well as parameter documentation:

With MonoTouch, we were dealing with a new type hierarchy, with new methods. We found that our users wanted to explore the API through code completion, but they wanted more context than just the full list of possible options at some point.

For example, the UIButton class has this hierarchy:

Looking through the methods, properties and events of this class can be confusing, as for the UIButton class there were some 140 possible completions that came from the complete hierarchy. Sometimes the user knows that the method they want is a button-specific method, and as fascinating as UIResponder, UIView or UIControl might be, the method they are looking for is not going to be there.

With MonoDevelop 2.4 we introduced a new shortcut during code completion that changes the completion order from alphabetic to grouped by type, with completions from the most derived type coming up first:

To switch between the modes you use Control-space when the popup is visible. You can use shift-up and shift-down to quickly move between the groups as well.

I have been using this feature extensively while exploring new APIs.

Posted on 09 May 2010 by Miguel de Icaza
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