Saturday, December 29, 2007


I'm afraid that I have an apology to make. I feel that I've given my Visual Basic friends a raw deal because the verses of my carol thus far have been primarily about C#. Oh sure, the verses usually end with a paragraph or two mentioning how a particular refactoring works in VB, but I haven't devoted a whole verse exclusively to a Visual Basic 9 feature. Until now. Today's verse is dedicated specifically to the coolest new feature of Visual Basic 9: XML Literals.

So, sit back and relax. It's time for a little Visual Basic X-mas cheer!

"On the tenth day of X-mas my true love (DevExpress) gave to me..."

Refactoring in XML Literals

A couple of months ago, I wrote about how we were adding first-class refactoring support for Visual Basic XML Literals. If you're unfamiliar with XML Literals, they allow developers to embed XML directly into their code like so:

Module TwelveDaysOfXmas
  Sub Main()
    Dim lBook = <book isbn="12252007">
                 <title>Refactoring: The True Meaning of X-mas</title>
                 <price><%= 0D.ToString("C") %></price>
  End Sub
End Module

It's the VB Compiler's job to transform the above XML Literal into instances of XElements, XAttributes and XNames from the System.Xml.Linq namespace.

Module TwelveDaysOfXmas
  Sub Main()
    Dim lBook = New XElement("book", _
                    New XAttribute("isbn", "12252007"), _
                    New XElement("title", "Refactoring: The True Meaning of X-mas"), _
                    New XElement("price", 0D.ToString("C")), _
                    New XElement("author", _
                        New XElement("first-name", "Dustin"), _
                        New XElement("last-name", "Campbell")))
  End Sub
End Module

The real power of XML Literals is the ability to embed expressions directly into the XML. In the first code example above, the <price> tag contains an embedded expression.

<price><%= 0D.ToString("C") %></price>

Embedded expressions open the door to dynamic XML generation. Very, very cool.

The only real problem that I have with XML Literals is that embedded expressions are such a pain to write. Not only does the expression itself have to be written, but the delimiters contain no less than five symbols. Granted, VB's IntelliSense fills in the last two after I've typed the first three, but that's still three characters to type with the shift key held down. That's pretty painful. It would be great if a refactoring tool existed that handled this work for us. Oh wait. I work on a refactoring tool that does that very thing. That's right, Refactor! Pro works on XML Literals!

Check out the preview hint for Introduce Local when the contents of the <title> tag are selected:

Introduce Local on Xml Literal Preview Hint

And here's the code after Introduce Local is applied:

Introduce Local on Xml Literal

Visual Basic developers everywhere can rejoice. You no longer have to type <%= again because the bread-and-butter refactorings work in XML Literals!

View Screencast of XML Literal Refactoring in Action!

Tomorrow: more refactorings for XML Literals. You won't want to miss it!

posted on Saturday, December 29, 2007 10:40:08 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0]

kick it on