VS 2005 Large File Handling Issue

Nowadays software is becoming more and more complex. It happens so partially because computers are becoming more and more powerful and end users are becoming more and more demanding. Another reason to this added complexity is due to the fact that companies who make the software need to justify their existence and thus, more functionality is added as newer versions roll out.

Sometimes, adding new functionalities becomes the number one priority in software development and people forget the reason why such software was created at the first place. And as a result, sometimes the “core functionality” of the product was sacrificed even though more functionality was added.

This phenomenon can be easily seen everywhere. And my recent experience with opening a large HTML file using Visual Studio 2005 further confirms this view.

The other day, I was trying to open a rather large HTML file using Visual Studio 2005. The file was around 3MB, and the only reason I was using Visual Studio 2005 was its syntax highlighting capability. But the file could not be opened! After five minutes, I received these dialog boxes instead:



The file I was trying to view was a “C# Language Specification 1.2” document converted to ODF and then converted to HTML. The reason I suspect that it failed to open in Visual Studio 2005 is that the converted HTML is not conforming to the XHTML standard that Visual Studio 2005 insists upon (all the tags are upper cases when the HTML was exported from Open Office) and somehow the validation process could not handle the excessive number of errors and crashed.

The same file however, can be opened somewhat easily with Visual Studio 2003 (it took about half a minute) and I suspect that the reason it took such long time to open the file was because Visual Studio 2003 was doing some validation while loading the file. Nevertheless, the file was opened with no problem.

Our good old notepad opened the same HTML file in under 5 seconds, even though we know that notepad was not designed to handle multi-megabyte files that efficiently. Well, you might say wait, but notepad does not do any syntax highlighting stuff… True, but using Florian balmer’s free Notepad2(http://www.flos-freeware.ch/) it took only less than one second to open, and you got a syntax highlighted document.

So, what’s going on here? My expensive copy of Visual Studio .Net should be at least as good as those free text editors, shouldn’t it? While adding tons of new features to Visual Studio .Net 2005, the developers at Redmond seemed to have ignored the basics. After all, all the basic “features” (e.g. able to quickly load a large file) of a good text editor should still be in the essence of a feature-rich IDE. Alas, my laptop from 1997 can load the same 2M HTML file with syntax highlighting in Visual Studio 6 less than 10 seconds.


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