Finally gotten around to putting VS2010 on this machine, and this time around I’m breaking with tradition and simply not putting MSDN on there, at all. It used to be a no-brainer, put the reference libraries on as you’re going to be looking stuff up all the time. But these days it was always more an exercise in frustration than a useful tool.
Many topics are just “not there”. Huge swathes of really basic stuff are just missing (basic date formatting string specifiers – that’s pretty low level!), so that when you navigate to them it tells you the page is missing. Go online to the MSDN reference there, and you’ll find the page, just not in the locally installed copy. I thought to begin with it was just because I’d installed it badly, but even from a clean install it was still just not there. I’ve since concluded that it must be the Express versions are just subsets of the full documentation, to keep the downloads small. It’s certainly not a functionality split – like they’re only putting in help topics for things in the Express editions – because the Express editions are really quite close to fully functional. No, this is stuff that’s core to .NET and the language.
So, since I’m having to fall back on searching the internet anyway, I figure I might as well have my hard disk space back. The online resources available now are fantastic anyway, and it’s rare that I’m not connected when developing. Most often it’s the online MSDN references that show up first in the search, so in the end it’s much of a muchness – except I don’t have to use the horrible HTML help interface which has been getting steadily worse with every revision of Visual Studio.
I guess this is just another nail in the coffin of the disconnected computer: so many things now expect/assume/require you to be connected to the Internet. Which wouldn’t be so bad, but even with 3G connectivity, a network connection while on the move still isn’t something that can be taken for granted. But I’ll stop grouching about it like an old man, and go with the flow…