T4 templates Intellisense support in Visual Studio 2010

A couple years ago I started using T4 templates in my Visual Studio projects. They provided me with a quick and efficient way to generate source files (C# and SQL in my case) based on the application’s database schema. T4 is also extremely useful for generating code for ASP.NET MVC (more information below). The problem only problem is that Visual Studio 2010 by default applies no Intellisense or code coloring. This makes it difficult to edit resulting in a wall of code.

T4 code in Visual Studio 2010 without Tangible Engineering extension

This problem was originally solved for me in Visual Studio 2008 in 2009  when I downloaded and eventually purchased the Clarius Visual T4 editor per recommendation by Microsoft.  Clarius stopped developing their T4 Editor plug-in in late 2009 and there is no support for Visual Studio 2010. Last Winter the lack of development made me optimistic that T4 Intellisense would be in Visual Studio 2010. Usually canceling development by a plug-in vendor Clarius indicates that Microsoft is about to make them redundant. Unfortunately this was not the case and I was left without this handy feature in Visual Studio 2010. Fortunately I can across a post today on stackoverflow that offered a FREE solution from Tangible Engineering. I downloaded and installed this software today and Intellisense was back (on most things).

T4 code in Visual Studio 2010 with Tangible Engineering extension

It appears Tangible Engineering (@tangibleeng) has adopted a crack-dealer business model like other plug-in vendors. The FREE version doesn’t support all of the C# language. It does provide enough though for developers to decide if they need to to pay 99.98 USD for the PRO edition. If you use T4 often it’s worth it, I just don’t know if I want to spend $100 again just to have the vendor flake out on the next version of Visual Studio. My hope is that the Visual Studio team bakes this feature into the next version.

Update – 8/26/2010

I appears that Clarius posted some news regarding a Visual Studio 2010 version shortly after this original post.  Read about it over at the Visual T4 blog.

More Information

T4 templates in Visual Studio 2010 require the “T4 Toolbox” available FREE on Codeplex.

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