With CShell, C# developers can bypass Visual Studio more often

After two years, the open source real-time code evaluator may finally see the light of day

CShell, an interactive C# scripting environment providing real-time evaluation of code, is expected to have a formal 1.0 release in one to two months, having spent two years in development, says Lukas Buhler, developer of the project.

Leveraging both the Roslyn .Net compiler project and the Mono runtime, open source CShell provides a REPL (read-eval-print-loop) console-like environment. "Your code is directly evaluated and executed in a shell window; no separate executable has to be compiled and then run in a different process. More elaborate code can be written in a C# script and then evaluated as one file, only one line, or a selection," the project's webpage says. Buhler likens it to GitHub's recently released Atom code editor, albeit for C#.

Developers can use CShell alongside Visual Studio. Buhler said that it's more lightweight, so users don't need to start up Visual Studio every time they wish to test something, but CShell is not intended to replace Visual Studio.

The environment also can work with ScriptCS, which enables writing and executing C# code with a simple text editor. ScriptCS could serve as the execution layer, while CShell development could provide a rich UI. Developers under this scenario can leverage the fast-paced development of ScriptCS, use polished assembly management, and switch between Roslyn and Mono.

CShell features a C# code editor with code completion supporting C# scripts and a workspace explorer for organizing scripts and files. The project is extensible, so modules can be developed adding editors and sinks. Buhler says the inspiration for CShell comes from scientific tools like R. The project is under the jurisdiction of the Arnova Asset Management investment firm and Buhler, who is a developer at Arnova.

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