VS.NET 2005 will not have a multi-line search/replace feature :(

A couple of days ago I blogged about VS.NET lacking a multi-line search/replace feature. I filed it as a suggestion in the MSDN feedback center. And I did receive a response:

Resolved as Won't Fix by Microsoft on 7/12/2004 at 11:31 PM

We LOVE this suggestion. I remember the alpha chat that we had almost a year ago and remember you making the suggestion and loved it back then. As you've noticed, we have made huge progress on the Find UI since this alpha release. Unfortunately, this work didn't allow us enough time to add this suggestion. It ranks highly on our list of requests for the next version of VS and we hope to get it to you then. We're also planning a chat in the near future and hope that you can make it. Stay tuned to our team blog for details.

Sean Laberee

Now, what disapoints me the most is that a year ago, they already knew this was a great feature to add, that a lot of the editors available have such a feature and it really helps development and that today VS.NET 2005 is almost a year away plus that it seems that two years apparently aren't enough to add a feature to search/replace multiple lines of text. It might be a little more complex than editorContents.Replace(from, to); but how hard can it possibly be?

A year ago I joined the Whidbey Alpha program because I thought it would give me some, maybe even a little, influence on the future version of VS.NET. Apparently not. What's the use of joining these kind of programs then? The thrill of being able to peek into the kitchen where Chef Microsoft bakes 'the next version' ? Why bother? Why invest time testing versions, supplying suggestions while all you are really able to do is looking? If you want feedback Microsoft, do something with it or tell the community to not provide feedback at all.

"We LOVE this suggestion.". So do we, Sean, for a heck of a long time already. However why on earth should we even bother with spending time on giving you suggestions? It is not as if I was late at the party giving you the suggestion, so it wasn't possible to add the feature. The whole search dialog was in development at that time, nothing was finalized.

"It ranks highly on our list of requests for the next version of VS and we hope to get it to you then.". Sean, perhaps you don't realize this, but for us, outside MS, the next version is VS.NET 2005, not VS.NET 2007

You know what I'd really love to see, Sean? Some honesty. I'd have loved the honesty from you and your team back then and now why you couldn't add a multi-line replace routine in a full year and one year before shipment. Saying that you love the feature, you already did a year ago and still have it high on your list is a little hard to match with the cold reality of having a tool without a multi-line search routine. Was the feature scrapped because of the fact that it might not be that useful? It's high on lists at the moment, so I don't think that's the reason.

(paragraph removed)

It might be me who thought it would be added, considering your reactions back then. Perhaps that's my perception of the matter, I don't know. It's just very frustrating, looking back at the whole process from participating in the alpha group and now the end result. But perhaps it's me and were my expectations simply irrealistic, however I don't think they are, not now, not back then.

But I give up for now. I hope others have more luck with their suggestions and bugreports, or should I rephrase that to "I hope others have any luck with their suggestions and bugreports"... it seems so.


  • Frans,

    Quit whining. Seriously. Just because they like a feature doesn't automatically mean that it's going to make a certain release, that doesn't mean that they are incompentent or worse dishonest as you imply.

    That's a really really cheap shot, bordering on irresponsible considering you have absolutely *no* evidence of this. You are speculating on the reasons and motiviations here because you have your feelings hurt. You wanted to say, "Hey! that nifty multiline search/replace was *my* idea!!" Great. Good for you.

    The bottom line is that they will incorporate some features, and others won't make it, and it's not because they are eevvvviiilll, it's because there is a finite amount of time to produce this product (yes even for Microsoft).

    If you're so passionate, create a plug-in yourself. It's easy, remember?

  • To get this far into a product lifespan and still not have this feature is a little bizarre given the other less useful options that it already contains.

  • Frans you are being a baby.

    Firstly, I don't know why you say 'Hi anonymous on airband.net. Next time mention your real name.' This is childish. The poster's name is irrelevant, and your childish 'aren't I clever, I reversed his IP' comments are not really very friendly.

    Secondly Homesite is probably written by a single guy, and if someone says 'can you do X', then he will do it on the spot.

    Things don't work like this in Microsoft. Things need testing on 100 different systems. In addition, you are acting like there is nothing else for these guys to do. This is not correct. They will have a list of features for the next version of the software. They will have prioritised these, and then tried to remove as many as possible that are not essential in order to SHIP THE SOFTWARE. This is just common sense.

    This feature might be important to you, but don't act like Microsoft has nothing else to do, and had 2 years to build this. Yes they did have 2 years, but they probably decided 2 years ago that they weren't going to do it. Which other feature would you like cut instead? Do you think the PMs haven't thought about this?

    And what scenarios are you using multiline find and replace?

  • "I don't really understand why you're acting surprised about this, Frans. Isn't this the way things have always worked with them? "

    Well, if I had suggested the feature last week, and even during a beta-stage, I wouldn't have been surprised really, perhaps annoyed about the fact that they could have thought about it themselves.

    This was very early, during the design of the feature itself, so perhaps my naivety got in my way, blinding my view on reality ;)

  • Hi Frans,

    I just wanted to say, please keep on whining. It's critical that someone makes noise about real features that affect real developers. This is one of those things that people probably don't realize they can't live without. I used homesite for several years before giving it up to move to asp.net and the multiline search/replace is easily the feature that I miss most. There's so many cases it woulc have saved me tons of time.

    Please keep bringing these issues to light because no one will listen to most of the rest of us that feel the same way :)

  • I believe Microsoft Access went at least six versions without a way to print the Relationships Window, despite numerous requests, discussions between alpha testers and Microsoft developers, professions of interest, and so on. Input from external testers is one small factor in the bigger picture; I think Microsoft's own vision of where a product is going next is weighted much more highly.

  • well, Frans, maybe "naive" is too strong... "overly optimistic", maybe. If we were talking about a great year-old suggestion for LLBLGen, I would be as surprised as you, unfortunately, change and movement at MS is glacial compared to smaller, more agile [ack, I don't want to use that word, but it fits] companies like yours.

  • "Input from external testers is one small factor in the bigger picture; I think Microsoft's own vision of where a product is going next is weighted much more highly."

    I can see a point in this, however I can't match it with the weight they seem (!) to give to the MSDN feedback center now, as if they are very eager to hear our feedback and are very willing to add these things provided by feedback... However, it more and more looks like it's just hot air and business as usual.

    Shannon: heh :) You're right. I like "overly optimistic" :)

    Steve: thanks for the link, seems like a similar situation... I really don't understand why these kind of things are left out while stupid features a lot of people never use are added, like clippy is now re-added to VS.NET 2005.. I mean... yes, we all want THAT one to be part of vs.net 2005 and not things like resizable windows and multi-line search / replace!

  • Surely you are joking about Clippy? I mean I saw the screenshot, but I am pretty sure it was mocked up in jest.

  • I *hope* it's a joke, myself I can't believe it on one side, however on the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if they add a similar 'wizard'like feature to the express stuff.

  • Ok, I saw the screenshot now. It looks really bogus (especially the statemachine prank :D) *pfew*

  • I would just like the find / search facility to search inside region tags(Multiline would have been nice aswell).

    I have had this problem so many times before that you search for seomething in a project and it does not find the word becuase it is inside a region.

    If this is possible then please point me in the right direction.

    I guess i can't complain to much about "VS.NET 2005 will not have a multi-line search/replace feature" seeing that i have not been participating on the MSDN groups, but i would like to say - To wait for the next version of VS to get this little feature is madness!!

    But i guess it is part of the way M$ works..they never fixes something the first time - you always have to wait for a patch that may or maynot appear or buy a upgrade or even buy a new version in which the problem is supposedly solved, and after getting the new version you find that all they have done is changed the GUI to make better looking or they have broken something else.

    This makes me think of the sinario where we are donkeys and M$ is riding us while holding a big juicy carrot infront of us, with the promise that we might get the carrot someday.

  • It surely isn't that hard to understand where Microsoft are comming from. They have hundreds of potential enhancements for VS and have a priority for each one. Your suggestion will, no doubt, have been added to it but by the time it gets to alpha the two top priority features are stability and shipping. The priority cut-off point was before your feature.

  • Wayne, I don't know about vs.net 2005, but for 2003, check "Seach hidden text" in the find box, that should work for you.

    In general, why does Microsoft actually except feedback? Have they ever implemented anything based on feedback? It seems like developers (and users) whine for years and years, and maybe Microsoft will accidentally implement something they asked for. So why have the pretense? It just leads to expectation and then disapointment.

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