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Leveraging the power of ReSharper Templates

Among .NET developers, the JetBrains tool ReSharper (or R#) is some kind of silver bullet when it comes to code analysis and refactoring. However, I’ve often seen developers not being familiar with ReSharper Code Templates. That’s why I want to give a brief introduction into this topic.

Basically, Code Templates are little code snippets that can be used in different scopes of coding. JetBrains calls them Live Templates, Surround Templates and File Templates. Let’s take a look at them!

Live Templates

Live Templates are snippets that can be inserted while coding in a file. This can be if statements or for each loops: just start typing if, hit Enter and ReSharper will come up with a little workflow guiding us through the different parts, e. g. the condition.

Out of the box, there are 170+ templates that come with ReSharper. But we can define our own templates via the Templates Explorer (Extensions → ReSharper → Tools → Templates Explorer… in Visual Studio). For example, I have a small template named xunitasync that looks like this:

When typing xunitasync within a class, this template will create an asynchronous xUnit test body for me. When looking closer to the template code, we notice the two strings $TestName$ and $END$. These are Template Parameters and they are context-aware. In the most easiest way, they are just plain strings that ReSharper will ask us to enter when using the template. For example, the $TestName$ is just the name of the test we want to use. $END$ is the location where the caret will be placed after the template has been applied. In my case, I want to start writing the Arrange part of the test.

By context-aware, I mean that such parameters can be more than just plain strings. For example, a parameter can be configured so that whenever it is applied, IntelliSense will pop-up and a type is requested. This happens in the example for the parameter $TestType$. JetBrains calls them Template Macros and there’s a bunch of them (see here).

I have plenty of those live templates, e. g. for creating To-do items or Get-Only C# Properties.

Surround Templates

The second interesting option are Surround Templates. They can be used to surround a selected piece of code with another piece of code. Let’s look at the following template:

We are already familiar with the $END$ parameter. The $SELECTION$ parameter represents the piece of code that is selected. Before this code, a Stopwatch instance stopwatch is created and started. After the selected code, stopwatch is stopped. I use this frequently as the most trivial form of performance measurement.

With this template, the following code…

…becomes to…

File Templates

I tend to use them not as much as Live or Surround Templates, but File Templates are also very handy in some situations. For example, when working with MSTest, each test class has to be decorated with the [TestClass] attribute. I have a File Template that creates a MSTest file for me and it looks like this:

Again, there are some parameters which are pretty obvious: $Namespace$ stands for the Namespace and it will be automatically retrieved by a macro. So I never have to take care of this manually, it will be determined by the file location within the Solution.

Postfix Templates

It is not an exaggeration to say that I like these the most. With Postfix Templates, I can write new MyService().var and the little suffix .var will create a variable. Or we can use .foreach to create a for each loop.

Unfortunately, we cannot create Postfix Templates through the Templates Explorer yet. But I hope the JetBrains guys will make this possible in the future 😃.

Summary

This was a short introduction into the concept of ReSharper Templates. There is a ton more to say, but I hope this is enough to catch your curiosity. For me in personal, I can say that ReSharper templates have revolutionized the way that I code. I can keep my focus on what I want to write, not how. And the extensibility gives me a way to be more productive in small, but repetitious coding tasks.

If you need more information, I’d recommend the excellent documentation. There is a list of all the available macros, GIFs to see the Templates in action and much more.

Last but not least, I’d be curious whether you’ve created a custom template and for what.

Thank you for reading and take care!

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