Best Visual Studio Extensions

The Visual Studio Gallery is the best place to find tools, controls, and templates to help make your life as a developer easier and more productive. Every so often, I publish my personal list of favorite extensions. This is something I started back when Visual Studio 2010 was first released. A lot has changed since then. I have already published my favorites list for Visual Studio 2013 several times. As new extensions are released, old ones updated or removed, the list does change a bit from time to time. This time, I’m going to separate the list into two sections, those extensions I feel are “must haves” and those I feel are “really nice to have”.

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Add images to your code in Visual Studio with the ImageComments extension

Making Visual Studio perfect

ImageComments extension by Luke McQuade lets you show images among code in Visual Studio 2010/2012:

Images in code (Visual Studio 2012 with ImageComments) Images in code (Visual Studio 2012 with ImageComments)

To add an image you add the specially formatted image comment to your code, like /// <image url=”X:PathToImage.ext” scale=”Y” />. After that the image is displayed by ImageComments right after the comment. You can easily share images with your team by committing them to the repository with the code file and using $(ProjectDir) or $(SolutionDir) macros in the image url to specify relative path for the image. The scale parameter lets you easily change original image size.

While there are some known issues (plus I’d add that images are visible even after the corresponding block is collapsed), the extension adds very useful functionality in a very easy to use manner.

The free ImageComments extension currently supports Visual Studio 2010 and Visual Studio 2012. You can download it…

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Productivity Power Tools 2013 released

Making Visual Studio perfect

Microsoft has updated their popular extensions pack Productivity Power Tools for Visual Studio 2013. One interesting new feature they have added is Solution Explorer Errors. It shows error, warning, and message squiggles in the Solution Explorer window and hovering over a squiggle displays a popup filtered to the selected file or project with the ability to go to the corresponding problematic file line:

Solution Explorer Errors in Visual Studio 2013 Solution Explorer Errors in Visual Studio 2013

See 10 minutes video describing all 11 new features. Read detailed breakdown for all features and download the tools.

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Visual Commander v1.5 adds navigation to relevant code from compiler errors

Making Visual Studio perfect

Visual Commander is a freemium extension for Visual Studio 2010+ allowing you to automate repetitive tasks in the IDE.

Visual Commander Professional v1.5 adds the ability to double-click on a compiler error in the Compilation status box and navigate directly to the relevant code (line and column of the error):

Navigation to relevant code from a compiler error Navigation to relevant code from a compiler error

Visual Commander v1.5 also adds recording for the Edit.FormatSelection and Edit.FormatDocument commands, improves alignment for displayed command bindings in the main VCmd menu.

Download the installer.

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See more lines of code with syntactic line compression

Making Visual Studio perfect

The recent May 2014 update of Productivity Power Tools for Visual Studio 2013 adds the syntactic line compression feature. “It shrinks lines that contain neither letters nor numbers by 25% vertically, allowing more lines to be displayed in the editor.” In the following sample compressed code takes about 10% less vertical screen space:
Syntactic line compression before and after Syntactic line compression before and after
In practice most frequently compressed lines are blank ones and lines with braces. If you place opening braces on the same line with code, compressed closing braces will look somewhat odd:
Compressed closing braces Compressed closing braces
In this case you may want to compress only blank lines. This setting is available in syntactic line compression options:
Syntactic line compression options Syntactic line compression options
I think it’s a nice enhancement that just works.

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Macros for Visual Studio 2013

Making Visual Studio perfect

Visual Studio Platform Team has released the Macros for Visual Studio 2013 extension for VS 2013 to record, edit and execute text editing commands and window operations. You can open the new Macro Explorer tool window from the Tools – Macros menu:

Macros menu

Macro Explorer lists your own macros and preinstalled samples:

Macro Explorer

Each macro consists of JavaScript code and stored in a .js file that you can edit in Visual Studio as usual. Access to Visual Studio automation model is provided using the familiar dte object:

Macro code

You can run a macro double-clicking the name in Macro Explorer or assign a keyboard shortcut (for up to 9 macros).

(To react on Visual Studio events like document saving or reuse older VB macros you still need to use the Visual Commander extension. Visual Commander additionally allows you to write command code in C# and provides access to .NET framework.)

You can download Macros…

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