Today I received my copy of “Windows Developer Power Tools” by James Avery and Jim Holmes, to which I contributed a chapter about my Visual Studio add-in GhostDoc, comparable in scope to what I wrote for “Visual Studio Hacks”. For the chapter in “Tools” (which grew to 7 pages compared to 5 in “Hacks”), I took the opportunity to be more clear about what GhostDoc can do, and what it cannot achieve, and what to look out for e.g. when re-using inherited documentation.
A small error was introduced in editing of my original text (which by the way turned out surprisingly tame considering the fact that English is not my native language): Unlike suggested by the text on page 314 “when you want to document a method or class”, GhostDoc does not generate documentation for classes. On a sidenote: While this is a feature that has been requested a couple of times, it hasn’t been implemented yet. And honestly, I’m not quite sure of the value of such a feature, let alone what exactly it is supposed to do (most of the examples I have received so far show a certain ELIZA effect concerning the belief in GhostDoc’s abilities, but I’m still open to suggestions).
To bring the topic back to the book: at more than 1300 pages, it contains a lot of stuff, covering more than 170 free and open source tools for developers. The concept of the book is to describe each tool on roughly 3 to 10 pages, helping you to decide whether or not to give it a shot, and if so, how and where to start. If “Windows Developer Power Tools” saves you from either missing a really good tool, or installing some crud software in the process of finding one, the book has reached its goal and saved you a lot of time (and maybe even trouble). As one reviewer puts it “You could spend your time tracking down these applications, but why?”. From what I can tell by a first quick glance at the table of contents and skimming the pages, definitely an interesting book.