Project Rider – A New Challenger Appears
Today’s header image was created by Binyamin Mellish, the original source for the image is available here
Back in January 2016, JetBrains announced that they were working on a cross platform IDE for C# projects. If the name JetBrains is familiar to you, that’ll be because they are the developers behind the amazing Visual Studio add-on ReSharper and the fantastic IDE IntelliJ.
It seemed a little strange to me that JetBrains, who seem to make a lot of their money from their ReSharper add-on, would want to try to undercut Microsoft by creating their own IDE. But if they were going to support .NET Core and include the features of ReSharper, then I’d decided I would have to give it a go.
JetBrains describe Rider in this way:
Which is a pretty impressive set of features.
Oh and it has ReSharper built in.
The first thing that I should say, is that Rider is currently
at the time of writing
free, due to it being in early access. This is because it’s currently in a public beta. To be fair, I’ve not seen anything (while using it) to make me think that it’s a beta product – but I think that shows the background that JetBrains have in creating IDEs.
In the process of writing this post, I demo’d Rider on
- MacOS Sierra
- Windows 10
- Ubuntu 16.04
And on each of these platforms…
During it’s first run, Rider will present you with a set up wizard. This wizard guides you though picking a UI theme:
Text colour schemes:
And key mappings:
Along with pages for plugins too
I decided against showing every step of this process, because I didn’t want this post to become a selection of screen shots with only a few paragraphs between them
After you’ve set up Rider you’ll be shown the, frankly, beautiful splash screen:
Finally, you’ll get through to the IDE proper
If you’re running on a non-Windows OS (MacOS or one of the supported Linux distributions), you’ll need to install Mono and the .NET Core SDK in order to compile any .NET Core projects.
I’ve included the version of Rider here, to show that I’m running the latest (at the time of writing) version
Simply installing Mono was enough for me to get around this issue, but it might be something worth noting if you’re planning on doing a lot of cross platform work.
I didn’t have the issue on my Mac because I’d already installed Visual Studio for Mac – which installs Mono for you
In order to install Mono, you can follow the instructions at the Mono website, here. I also had to install MSBuild, as I received this error message:
All in all, the shell commands I had to issue were:
Remember, these are Ubuntu specific and require apt – YMMV
|# add the GPG signed key to your apt repository|
|sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkp://keyserver.ubuntu.com:80 --recv-keys 3FA7E0328081BFF6A14DA29AA6A19B38D3D831EF|
|echo "deb http://download.mono-project.com/repo/debian wheezy main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mono-xamarin.list|
|# enable installation of mod-mono on Ubuntu 13+ and Debian 8+|
|echo "deb http://download.mono-project.com/repo/debian wheezy-apache24-compat main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mono-xamarin.list|
|# install the mono compiler and bare bones|
|sudo apt-get update|
|sudo apt-get install mono-devel|
|# install everything which isn't covered in the previous package|
|sudo apt-get install mono-complete|
|# install msbuild|
|sudo apt-get install msbuild|
Only once I’d installed all of those packages was I able to open or create a .NET Core project.
As IDEs go, Rider is really nice. As with any other IDE, building is available at the click of a button and it’s pretty speedy too – as you’d expect, Rider calls the CLI tools to build your project.
As of writing this blog post, Rider cannot debug .NET Core applications on non-Windows platforms. This is due to a licensing restriction placed on the Microsoft.VisualStudio.clrdbg NuGet package, as explained in this Rider blog post.
This means that if you need to debug a .NET Core application, and you’re on a non-Windows platform, you’ll need to rely on either Visual Studio for Mac (for MacOS only) or Visual Studio Code for the time being.
According to the above blog post, JetBrains are currently looking into their options regarding debugging on non-Windows platforms.
Rider, as with Visual Studio, has a window for managing package for your application. The key difference being that Rider’s window is dockable, whereas Visual Studio uses a full screen tabbed window.
Which I guess is dockable too, but Rider’s one is docked by default
Searching for packages is pretty easy, however I’d suggest going full screen before doing it. And here is why:
In the above screen shot, I’ve searched for “entityframeworkcore” but because of the way the dockables are set up on first run, the search box contents are hidden.
Whenever I’m not using Windows, I like to leave applications un-maximised, so I was bitten by this when I started using Rider
However, when you maximise Rider, you’ll be able to see the contents of the search box correctly:
This can be avoided by hiding the Event Log, but I like to have that visible so that I can see any errors as and when they happen.
Adding a package is a case of choosing one from the search results, scrolling to the end of its description
don’t forget to read it, too
and clicking the Add button:
You’ll be prompted to ensure that you want to add the package:
When you confirm, Rider will add and restore the package for you:
Removing a package is a case of finding it in the list of installed packages, scrolling to the bottom of its description and clicking the Remove button:
You’ll be prompted for confirmation, and the package will be removed from the project.
Source Control – Loading Projects
Source control is one of the most important things in software development, and adding a project from Source Control in Rider is quite easy. It also supports some providers that Visual Studio doesn’t (by default).
On the welcome screen there’s an option for opening from Source Control:
Once you’ve authorised with a service
I use GitHub almost exclusively for my personal work
you’ll see a list of your repos, along with those that you follow or have starred
at least, when using GitHub you will
Cloning the project will do exactly that, and Rider will open the project after it has finished cloning it.
Source Control – Committing Changes
File changes are shown in the Version Control tab, which can be accessed at any time:
The Commit Changes modal is fully featured and allows for all sorts of git features:
and when the commit has completed successfully, you’ll be informed in the Version Control tab:
And, just as a way of proof, here is the change set that I committed.
At the time of writing this blog post, Rider doesn’t have support for publishing .NET applications (regardless of whether they are full .NET or .NET Core), and there doesn’t seem to be anything on the blog for Project Rider which indicates when it will be happening.
At the time of writing this blog post, anyway
For now, it looks like your options or publishing .NET Core applications are still:
- Visual Studio (on Windows)
- Visual Studio for Mac (on MacOS)
- CLI options and FTP upload to Azure (cross platform)
Project Rider is an extremely promising IDE from a company who really know how to make IDEs. The Linux and MacOS builds are lacking, at the moment, in that you can’t debug with them – however this is not a limitation that the Windows build has (due to a licensing issue).
Without the ability to publish directly to Azure (coupled with the lack of support for debugging on non-Windows platforms), I wont be switching to Rider permanently. But I’m still going to keep an eye on the project and see how it grows, as it could prove an interesting cross platform competitor to Visual Studio.
Have you tried Rider yet? If so, what did you think of it? If you haven’t tried it yet, what has kept you from trying it out?