JetBrains readies a cross-platform C# IDE

Project Rider promises to bring deep C# support to non-Windows developers

JetBrains readies a cross-platform C# IDE
Credit: SMRT

JetBrains is developing a cross-platform IDE for C# that could serve as a potential rival to Microsoft's own Visual Studio IDE.

Code-named Project Rider, the IDE constitutes a .Net IDE from JetBrains and leverages the company's IntelliJ and ReSharper development technologies. Early features include smart navigation and a range of editing features, including typing assist, code inspections, refactorings, and a decompiler.

"Project Rider is a stand-alone IDE built on the IntelliJ Platform, much like WebStorm, DataGrip, and our other IDEs," JetBrains' Matt Ellis said in a blog post this week. "The difference, however, is that instead of re-implementing ReSharper's features on the IntellIJ platform, which runs on the JVM, we're using ReSharper in a headless mode, out of process, and communicating with it via a very fast custom binary protocol." The back end of Project Rider is written in C# running on .Net or Mono; the front end is written in Kotlin, talking to the IntelliJ platform's APIs. ReSharper serves as JetBrains' Visual Studio extension, analyzing code quality and providing quick fixes.

Project Rider's licensing model is still being worked out, although Ellis claims a pricing model will be released soon. A private early-access program is planned for late February. "We're starting out on the road to 1.0. We're confident of the architecture and believe we've built a good foundation to implement the features we want to see in a 1.0 release. We've got a lot of functionality already implemented, but we've still got a lot that we need to build."

JetBrains is developing Project Rider because it wants to provide choice, Ellis said. The company has been working for several years to allow ReSharper to function in different environments separately from Visual Studio. Regarding support, there are no announcements for Visual Basic or F# in Project Rider at this point, but CoreCLR is in the plan.

Project Rider will result in increased efforts in ReSharper. "ReSharper is still the No. 1 extension for Visual Studio and one of our flagship products," Ellis said. "The fact that Project Rider is using ReSharper reinforces our commitment to ReSharper, as any updates to ReSharper mutually benefit not only ReSharper but Project Rider also. In addition, we're hoping some of the work we've put into Project Rider can feed back into ReSharper."

Analyst Jeffrey Hammond, of Forrester, was uncertain if JetBrains would be able to compete with Microsoft.

"JetBrains have a pretty loyal following for their tools," he said. "We've seen Resharper with a few points of market share adoption in our surveys, and it's other IDEs like IntelliJ and Webstorm also garner vocal advocates. I'm not sure I'd invest a lot to try to compete head to head with Visual Studio in this market, but Xamarin are proving that you can complement Visual Studio and take C# to other platforms like Android and iOS. Maybe JetBrains has a similar idea with the .Net core runtime going open source and moving to other operating systems."

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