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Visual Studio Hacks 437

Posted by timothy
from the invisible-studio-is-less-visual dept.
Jim Holmes writes "Microsoft's Visual Studio is an elephant of an IDE. It's got tremendous power and adaptability, but it's difficult to dig through all the less-than-helpful documentation. It's also very tough to figure out which of the many available add-on tools are worthwhile to add. Visual Studio Hacks by James Avery is a terrific reference for helping get the most out of Visual Studio." Read on for the rest of Holmes' review.
Visual Studio Hacks
author James Avery
pages 512
publisher O'Reilly
rating Outstanding
reviewer Jim Holmes
ISBN 0596008473
summary Get the most out of Microsoft's Visual Studio


Disclaimer: James is a friend who's helped me with starting a developers group, and I'm also working on an open source project with him. The possibility exists that I may work on a paying project with him at some time in the future; however, I haven't had any financial dealings with him so far. (Other than I still owe him a beer for coming to speak at one of our group's meetings.) For what it's worth, I spent my own money to buy this book from Amazon. End Disclaimer.

Avery's book is great both for new users of Visual Studio as well as the more experienced developer. Also, readers won't have to worry about buying a book which will be outdated when Microsoft releases its next version of Visual Studio in November. Tips and tricks are included for Visual Studio versions 2002, 2003, and 2005.

VS Hacks spreads 100 "hacks" across 13 sensibly delineated chapters. Each hack is clearly marked with its number in a blue box at the upper, outer corner of each page. Hacks are also marked with a thermometer icon representing the hack's relative complexity. One of my few complaints about the book is that the moderate and expert icons look too similar - but frankly I ignore these icons anyway, so the criticism's most likely wasted.

The introductory chapters on projects and solutions, navigation, and editor usage aren't introductory in skill level. Avery covers these topics in great depth, diving down to some useful, but less-than-obvious settings in VS's environment. Examples of this would include Hack #2: Master Assembly and Project References, where Avery shows how to add additional assemblies to the Add Reference dialog's list of .NET assemblies. This is a timesaver if you've got custom libraries you make frequent use of; adding the assemblies to the default list saves having to use the Browse button to search for the files every time you need to add them.

Some of the most uninteresting drudgework in development involves writing code for basic software elements such as business entities or data access layers. It's repetitive, it's template-like material, and it's boring. Documenting such work is every bit as tedious.

Hack #50 covers using CodeSmith to generate code via templates. Other hacks detail tying UML into the development process. Hack #81 covers using Visio for Enterprise Architects to generate code from UML diagrams. Hack #82 covers the opposite of that process: generating class diagrams via Visio's reverse engineering support. (UML's capable of much, much more than the simple drudgework of business entities or data access layers, and these hacks shouldn't be confused with anything more than a cursory introduction of how to tie UML via Visio into Visual Studio.)

One of the most useful sections is Chapter 5: "Debugging." This chapter focuses on getting the most out of Visual Studio's debugger capabilities. These hacks are critical helpers to good developers effectively use Visual Studio's debugger.

Avery covers the basics of setting up breakpoints, diving down to various options such as setting how often to break on specific break points, or setting conditional break points. He then moves on to troubleshooting breakpoints in Hack #37, and there's also great coverage on using Visual Studio to debug scripting code inside a browser session, working with SQL server, and attaching to a running process or one that's just about to crash.

I found the best content of this book in hacks focusing on making the most of tools both inside and out of Visual Studio. Hack #79 is a great section detailing how to stress test web applications using Visual Studio Enterprise Architect's Application Center Test. This hack makes it easy for readers to understand how to get detailed stress testing on a web application. Along this same line, Hack #80 shows how to make use of the Dotfuscator tool to obfuscate .NET assemblies to protect them from modest efforts at reverse engineering. (Like Java, .NET assemblies can be disassembled, revealing all your hard work and intellectual property.)

Other gems in this same arena include tools for running and debugging unit tests inside Visual Studio (#93), testing regular expressions (#100), and using tools which automatically generate documentation based on naming conventions in the source code (#69).

The mechanics of this book are great. The Table of Contents breaks down each chapter by its individual hacks, and the index is very detailed and clear. I also like how hacks are listed on the top of each page, making it quick to find something if you know the hack's number or name and don't want to fuss with the table of contents.

My sole complaint about the book (aside from the annoying thermometer icons I've already mentioned) is that it's not always clear which add on tools work with which version of Visual Studio.

The author maintains a website specifically for this book, complete with code and tool downloads. RSS feeds are also available to monitor any updates the author makes.

This book is a critical addition to the bookshelf for any developer who spends any amount of time working in Visual Studio. You'll become much more productive by using tips in the book, and you'll find tips to help you decide which add-on tools you'll want to make use of. More importantly, you'll understand how to get the most out of Visual Studio's capabilities.


You can purchase Visual Studio Hacks from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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Visual Studio Hacks

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  • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @05:16PM (#13244630) Homepage
    Yes, I know a lot of Visual Studio hacks. Some say it's coders like them that are the problem with software today...
  • Interesting review (Score:4, Informative)

    by WillAffleckUW (858324) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @05:18PM (#13244644) Homepage Journal
    although it does mention most of these hacks won't work when the new Visual Studio comes out.

    But informative none the less.
    • Too bad it doesn't mention 6.0. That's what I still use for everything. Completely compatible (that's what MS is good for), and it does everything I need it to do. No need to drop the $$ for anything newer...
  • The "Hack" Culture (Score:3, Interesting)

    by yellowbkpk (890493) * on Thursday August 04, 2005 @05:19PM (#13244652)
    Is it just me or is a "hacking" culture growing out of the internet? People are getting fed up with the limitations put on them by business' slowness, so they push the limits of current technology to meet their needs.

    Is this because people's needs are growing faster than industry's ability to provide them?

    • Is this because people's needs are growing faster than industry's ability to provide them?

      It's probably that often, the industry doesn't know what people's needs are.
    • Is this because people's needs are growing faster than industry's ability to provide them?
      Honestly, I can't remember a time when that wasn't true.
    • by digidave (259925) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @06:12PM (#13245171)
      No, it's just that every little lesser-known thing gets called a hack nowadays.

      In this case, most of the "hacks" look like normal VS features that many people are unaware of. These sorts of things are better described as "tips", but that hardly draws any attention now, does it?

      If it was called How To Boot Your Walkman With Emacs, now that would be a hack.
  • Ultimate Killer App (Score:5, Informative)

    by PaulQuinn (171592) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @05:21PM (#13244686)
    MS Visual Studio is Microsoft's ultimate killer app. It's just the single best tool for software development. I use it even when developing for Linux.

    Until Linux gets an IDE at least 75% as good as MSDev, top-notch large scale applications for Linux will remain few and far between.
    • I agree.

      I think VS 2003 was lacking in a few areas, namely refactoring tools. Fortunately VS 2005 has refactoring tools integrated into it nicely.
    • by ciroknight (601098) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @05:25PM (#13244733)
      Totally Agreed. XCode's just the same way for the Mac.

      I don't think a GUI platform can call itself complete until it's got an IDE that's worthy for programming.

      The only one I've seen so far for Linux that's up to par (and just barely) is KDevelop, which is entirely useless to you if you don't use Qt, like myself.
      And yes, I know about a lot of the alternatives, they just all suck so bad they aren't worthy of mentioning by name. Eclipse is better than most, but is java, and slow....
      • by oGMo (379)

        I don't think a GUI platform can call itself complete until it's got an IDE that's worthy for programming.

        I disagree... I'm not a fan of your monolithic IDEs at all. My GUI is an IDE:

        • ROX-Filer [sf.net], which is highly customizable and integrated with the shell
        • XEmacs [xemacs.org] or vim [vim.org] as your preference goes, which are two highly advanced programmable editors
        • bash, zsh, csh, or your other favorite shell
        • autotools for building

        These tools combine into an "IDE" that is my desktop. I have the best-in-class for ev

        • by swissmonkey (535779) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @05:39PM (#13244873) Homepage
          One hint :

          Go take a look at what Visual Studio can do, you will see many features(incredibly powerful Intellisense being only one of them) that will save you time and sweat.

          This message provided courtesy of a programmer who used to be big fan of XEmacs et. all until he discovered what Visual Studio(and other good IDEs) can do.
          • by AuMatar (183847)
            I find intellisense the single most annoying feature of any program I've ever used. I'd turn clippy on before using it.
            • Same here. The last thing I need is the app flashing information in front of my eyes every time it thinks I need it. Even if I were to turn it on, it would only be useful about 1 out of 50 times that it would pop up, who needs all that visual noise while trying to code. I can type thank you very much, and unlike Microsoft, I give my classes and methods consistent and logical names so I don't have to look everything up all the time.

            • by David Horn (772985) <david@p o c k e t g a mer.org> on Thursday August 04, 2005 @07:28PM (#13245741) Homepage
              In that case, you obviously haven't tried the one in Visual Studio 2005. It's like seeing God. Only through your keyboard...
            • by hikerhat (678157) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @07:44PM (#13245844)
              If you ever work on a big application where you can't memorize the thousands of function and method signatures, or you have to quickly use code you've never seen before, intellisense will become more valuable to you.
          • Is "intellisense" the thing that gives you a dropdown of method names and similar? If so, there are multiple existing ways to do similar things in both (x)emacs and vim (although I'm not familiar with the procedure for doing it in the latter, so a vim master will have to chime in). There's dynamic abbrevs which work with almost everything and, while not context sensitive, are generally good enough unless you don't know and haven't typed the method. But it works in any mode, so if you're typing a letter

            • There are similar ways to do it for XEmacs and other editors, all less practical and efficient than the VS implementation.
              Not being context sensitive is simply unacceptable for example. When you start using namespaces, many classes, ... it's simply essential.

              Regarding This is the power of a programmable editor. If there's a feature you want, you can add it. If there's a feature you want to change, you can modify it. If there's a misfeature, you can get rid of it.

              Hint #2: You can write plugins for VStudio to
          • I agree... I still do alot of coding in emacs, it's still my favorite text editor, I still open it up to do certain things to my code... but my projects finally go just too big, now I use visual studio where appropriate and Zend's IDE for my web projects and the savings in my time have more than paid for each of them.

            On the other hand, bad (as most of the free IDE's out there are in my experience) are exactly the opposite... they waste time, they lose code when they crash, they generally are a hassle... bu
          • To say that VS.NET is the "ultimate killer app" sounds so outrageous that I'm tempted to think that a little astro-turfing might be going on here. VS.NET has a lot of features but it also has a lot of bugs. It's very slow when working with a large VB.NET solution. It also has periodic interop issues with VSS.

            When VS.NET is acting up like that, I am grateful that I can just open up a text editor and edit the source directly like that.

        • Yeah well none of that can equal up to what a good IDE does. Just because you like to program in the shell, doesn't help those of us who like to program in the GUI.

          Autotools are a crime when it comes to building projects.. I can't tell you how many hours I've spent tweaking those scripts until I heard about Scons, and it's not even an ideal solution; A good IDE allows you to click one button and have your software project built. Wanna customize the build? Don't worry about memorizing those archaic tags,
        • How do you get an intellisense-like feature with (X)Emacs?

          For me, a good intellisenseish feature in IDE A will cause me to use it over IDE B (without such a feature) in a heartbeat *no matter what* other feature IDE B has. I don't care if it runs like a dream, has the best debugger in the world, or whatever. If A has intellisense and B doesn't, about the only feature B could add that would make me switch is a telepathic "I'll write your code for you" feature.
          • I use vim, and it has ctags support and reverse tab completion and a bunch of other nifty things.

            Perhaps it's the projects I've been placed on at work, but I always find myself fighting Intellisense when I'm doing windows coding. It'll pop up with the wrong things when I don't want to be bothered with it, and it'll NOT pop up when I don't know how to use something and just want to see an interface list.

            Other times I just use gvim, for my solaris, mac, vms, linux and several web development projects. I fin
            • by EvanED (569694)
              It's not so much that I like VS's implementation of Intellisense. (It was reasonably poor in VS6, often not showing up. I've had little problem with VS.NET though.) I just used that term because it exactly describes what I'm talking about. (Something like 'code completion' doesn't, because I've seen other things that could be called that.)

              I've done a lot of Java work recently in Eclipse for instance, and think that the Intellisense in Eclipse is fantastic.
    • by oniony (228405)
      Yup, let's just pretend Eclipse doesn't exist.
    • by Tim C (15259)
      It's just the single best tool for software development.

      I have to disagree there. My experience is mainly in Java development, but I have done some VC++ and VC#. In my experience, VS.NET 2003 simply doesn't compare to the likes of JBuilder and Eclipse in terms of features (and neither of them are perfect by any means). I'm not saying that it's a *bad* IDE, but every time I use it the lack of refactoring and code inspection tools drives me batshit insane in pretty short order.

      To be perfectly honest, if you
      • I agree with you about JBuilder, but unfortunately, MS has the upper hand when it comes to PocketPC devices and that mobile framework stuff.

        I wish I could easily use JBuilder to write apps for a PocketPC platform that can interface with PDA BCR hardware DLLs, but C# in VS2K3 makes it really easy.

        I have a copy of JBuilder 2005 still in the shrink wrap that procurement finally sent me, and I get teary eyed wishing I could use it instead.
        But for this sort of thing, Borland just can't come close.
    • Visual Studio appears to actually be the killer app to my system.
      I have a fairly decent system, but VS drives to incredible slowness.
      When I exit I have to re-boot to get the speed back.
      Does any one else have this issue?
      Seriously I'd like to know.

    • by AxemRed (755470)
      World of Warcraft is my killer app. //Read into that whatever you want.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      >Until Linux gets an IDE at least 75% as good as
      >MSDev, top-notch large scale applications for
      >Linux will remain few and far between.

      I don't understand why you were modded as insightful. I'm not trying to be sarcastic, but how precisely is MS Visual Studio a "killer app"? What makes it so impressive in your opinion that no Linux development environment compares with it, or
      even as you say, "75%" as good?

      For example, my development environment of choice is xemacs which I consider hands down the ultim
      • You are obviously quite delusional. Emacs is the superior IDE, not xemacs.
      • Now don't get me wrong, I love Emacs myself and use it everywhere, but every modern IDE I know of lets me define my own keystrokes and has hooks for absolutely every function, so the mouse arguement just doesn't hold water.

        Your other points I agree with wholeheartedly. (I'm currently getting into eclipse though, as I'm digging the refactoring stuff, and I rarely find myself developing in non-windowed environments or using the god-like emacs features that no one else has or probably ever will.

        VS is differen
    • by RLiegh (247921) *
      Until Linux gets an IDE at least 75% as good as MSDev,
      You haven't tried kdevelop or anjuta then, I assume? Not being familiar with VS (too poor, lol) I am not sure how they stack up feature wise, but I bet that both meet your "75%" criteria.

      top-notch large scale applications for Linux will remain few and far between.
      You mean like Open Office, Mozilla or Blender3d? We have the apps; it's the mindshare we're lacking (if we're lacking anything, which I doubt now that we have corporate sponsorship from novell a
      • KDevelop doesn't have an intellisense type feature near as I can tell, and that drops it below the 75% itself IMHO.

        I just tried it, and it doesn't even seem to do auto code indenting. If i type if(a==b) { , any half decent IDE should indent the following line. KDevelop didn't. (I didn't look for an option to turn this on, I'll be fair.)

      • Not being familiar with VS (too poor, lol)

        Read: I don't know what I'm talking about, but I will comment anyways...

    • by yamla (136560)
      That's interesting, I approach things exactly in the opposite direction. I am developing for Windows but use Linux as my primary operating system. I use KDevelop and prefer it over Visual Studio (disclaimer: haven't tried VS2005). I just find too many things are missing from VS for my liking. Good svn integration, doxygen, good command-line tools like find and grep, sloccount, etc. etc. etc. Additionally, compiles are SLOW using Visual C++. Much much slower than in Linux when I use ccache and also dis
    • MS Visual Studio is Microsoft's ultimate killer app. It's just the single best tool for software development. I use it even when developing for Linux.

      ROFLMAO.

      Good one.

      But you do bring up a good point that we need more - and better - IDE's for Linux development.
    • What are you talking about? Linux has EMACS. Check your email, browse the web, read the newsgroups, write your documentation, be interviewed by the doctor, etc, all from within the same IDE! Who needs these new fangled gimics like VS.Net?
    • Yah. Gotta love all that automatically-generated API crap that VS dumps into your source:

      // {AFX_DATA_MAP(BHatchBoundaryTab)

      etc. It gives you something to read while you're looking for your code.

      God help you if you accidentally delete one of those comments.

      Delphi (for example) keeps your source code as you wrote it. Like every freakin other IDE in the universe.

      Oh, and how many versions of msvcr71.dll are there? (Seriously, I'm asking...MSDN's dll help database claims the file doesn't exist.)
    • >> Microsoft's ultimate killer app

      I don't think market penetration == killer app. It is certainly popular though.

      >> I use it even when developing for Linux.

      I usually do things the other way around. compile first with GCC, then under VS 6.0. IMHO the editors in linux are better, the tools faster and it's easier to write to ANSI standard.

      VS does some things well, especially with bigger projects, but for most stuff it's a distant second choice.
    • You may like Visual Studio. Good for you, keep on using it.

      Other people prefer Eclipse, and arguably, Eclipse has long surpassed Visual Studio both in terms of UI and in terms of functionality.

      Yet other people find Emacs a far better tool.

      And, frankly, compared to the environments people had 20 years ago for Smalltalk and Lisp, all those tools still seem extremely cumbersome.

      Visual Studio may be Microsoft's "ultimate killer app", but that's because people like you don't know how to work with anything else,
  • by Catamaran (106796) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @05:23PM (#13244716)
    VS has some very esoteric features, but I love the integrated browse info. It's better than ctags/etags because it uses the compiler to generate the info. Has anyone here thought about doing something similar with g++/gdb? There are a couple of ways it could be done.
    • have g++ generate tags
    • have an application to build tags from gdb-enabled binaries.
    • Can we also have GDB make small source-level modifications to a running binary, like Visual Studio debugger did last time I used it. (Disclaimer: it's a few years ago, they might have removed it since.)
    • Assume I've been living under a rock for a while: what is this "integrated browse info" of which you speak? How is integrated? What info are you browsing? Why is using the compiler to generate it a good idea? How would this differ from having a small script to post-process the output of 'nm' run over the generated object files?
      • If you use Emacs or vi or etc. you can navigate the source code by creating "tag" files which are cross-references between variable names and the source code lines where they are defined. VS has a similar, but more powerful, feature called Browse Info. Systems that use hueristics instead of using a compiler to generate the tags (or Browse Info) are not as accurate. nm does not give source (line) info, but your idea of post-processing (perhaps with gdb or addr2line or something) is similar to what I was hin
  • by OsirisX11 (598587) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @05:25PM (#13244731)
    Anyone got one?
  • by eltoyoboyo (750015) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @05:30PM (#13244780) Journal
    I highly recommend

    Best Kept Secrets in .NET
    by Deborah Kurata

    This has plenty of good tricks for visual studio:

    Chapter 1 - Hidden Treasures in Visual Studio
    Chapter 2 - Doing Windows Forms
    Chapter 3 - Code Tricks
    Chapter 4 - Much ADO
    Chapter 5 - Defensive Development
  • by DrXym (126579) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @05:40PM (#13244875)
    Is the the help system. I don't program Windows CE, but it's infested with stupid bloody WinCE specific help. Search for a Win32 function such as CreateWindow and often you're lead to the WinCE implementation. And the same for ATL & MFC classes. Worse is if you chose not to install the WinCE help at all since it still includes the index to the WinCE help. So double clicking on a help item prompts you to insert a CD. Filtering helps a bit but not a great deal since often you want to search anywhere, especially if your app spans Win32 and .NET for instance.

    Even with this annoyance it's still better than help in XCode on the Mac. XCode 2.x is a big improvement but it's still hopeless compared to MSDE.

    A second annoyance to DevStudio is the sheer mess of dockable windows. VC98 had it just about under control but since DevStudio 2002 it has become a disaster zone of tabs, splitters, pushpins, floaters and toolbars. Just trying to get all the relevant information onto the screen is hard enough. The pushpin model just works badly - either you pin a window to a frame or it annoys you by floating in and out at just the wrong point in time such as when you're mousing around.

    A final irritation is that DevStudio is extremely primitive compared to a lot of Java suites. Eclipse is hopeless for visual design but it kicks DevStudio around the shop for sheer coding. Being able to hit Shift+Ctrl+R and rename all references to a class or variable everywhere in Eclipse is mindbogglingly useful. While I expect the next incarnation of DevStudio will allow you to rename a class, it's notable by its absence in the current releases. It's not like Eclipse just introduced this feature since JBuilder has had it for years.

    • Alt+E+F+S. Check the boxes for "match case" and "match whole word". Not quite as accurate but it works the same for 99% of the cases.
    • I agree entirely with this sentiment about WinCE. You can use filters in MSDN to get rid of it, but its damn near impossible to do it properly. They tried to fix it with the lateset release of MSDN library (on disc Im talking about) by having a 'Desktop and Server OS' filter, but unfortuantly it also filters all the Web stuff and scripting etc which is annoying. Every search requires twice as much effort thanks to WinCE documentation.
      • A also agree that it is annoying, but in most cases the documentation is near identical for the CE version. I just use the CE docs unless I have reason to think they are different for some particular function.
    • Have to agree the Help system has a really really bad habit of bringing up useless WinCE help instead of what one is coding for - wish it would figure out from the Project that you DON'T want to code for WinCE and not bother you with extraneous carp like that.

      And I also find the dockable windows do make it easy to get lost - or figure out which one disappeared.

      Renaming references quickly is, admittedly, not very good, especially if you have code snippets that use them - it would be nice if it could at the v
    • by cpu_fusion (705735) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @09:20PM (#13246282)
      >"Eclipse is hopeless for visual design"

      Ever try the Visual Editor for Eclipse?
      http://www.eclipse.org/ve/ [eclipse.org]

      It's quite nice.
    • by AaronBrethorst (860210) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @09:20PM (#13246284) Homepage
      I just talked with the program manager who owns our help system and he promised me that we've fixed the first issue you describe in VS 2005. You can filter out specific blocks of content now, which will enable you to get rid of the WinCE-specific help.

      Also, you can now get content via the Internet or through the Local Help system, which means that you shouldn't ever run into "please insert a cd" messages again.

      As far as our Tool Window situation goes, we have a way to go on improving this. I think we're doing better in terms of window management in Whidbey (VS 2005) than we did in previous releases. One cool new feature, the IDE Navigator (Ctrl+Tab) lets you navigate between every open document and tool window in the IDE in a fairly reasonable manner.

      Also, we've added in either 5 or 6 refactorings to VS: you can perform operations like Extract Method or Rename Symbol now through that interface.

      Finally, if you have feature requests or bug reports please post them on our Product Feedback Center. I happened to run across this post, but there's no guarantee that a Slashdot post will ever be seen by the team that owns a specific part of VS. The MSDN Product Feedback Center [microsoft.com] will let you submit issues or suggestions to us directly and will guarantee they're routed to the right people.

      Cheers -- Aaron

      Oh yeah, and I feel like I owe a VS "hack" now. When you're in the editor you can enable incremental search by pressing Ctrl+i and then typing a string to search for. The next instance can be jumped to by pressing Ctrl+i again.

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @05:45PM (#13244934)

    A book on Visual Studio hacks has a lot going for it, but the examples in the review mostly sound like discussion of add-in tools, rather than VS itself.

    Many people don't take advantage of even simple things like customising autoexp.dat for debugging, and don't know about undocumented UI tweaks like displaying a marker line at column N. Many of these little touches are what makes VS better than the alternatives for a lot of jobs, and why Microsoft never makes more of them I don't understand. Are things like the two examples above covered in the book?

  • Tomato... (Score:3, Informative)

    by xtracto (837672) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @05:53PM (#13244993) Journal
    I remember when I programmed in Visual Studio there was a good add on called Visual Assist, the company is Whole Tomato [wholetomato.com] I used like 3 years ago and it was quite nice, it adds some features to the IDE that make coding easier.

  • by MeerCat (5914) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @06:06PM (#13245125) Homepage
    So I normally prefer to use emacs as my IDE, especially for anything complex, but for those times when I need to use Visual Studio I've been getting a little bored with the standard tools so hacked together an add-in (not just the tools or macros, but the proper add-in mechanism) framework entirely in perl... suddenly I can knock up simple reg-exp based editor tools and I don't need to descend to some crappy VB/C# level coding to do so...

    But has anyone noticed what a complete mess the Visual Studio add-in API is ? A hybrid mixture of DLL export functions and nearly-COM like objects... very 1993... I think it must count as the biggest hack in Visual Studio.
  • zerg (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lord Omlette (124579) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @06:08PM (#13245144) Homepage
    If Visual Studio isn't your bag, but you still like Visual C++, then grab the Visual C++ 2003 toolkit (just the compiler, free) and stick Code::Blocks [codeblocks.org] on top of it.
  • Related book. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MythMoth (73648) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @06:16PM (#13245207) Homepage
    This is more in-depth than you might expect:
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0596 003609/ [amazon.com]
  • How about getting the scroll wheel to work in VS6???

    That would be such a productivity improvement!
  • by fishlet (93611) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @09:58PM (#13246464)
    I've used Studio 2003 new for the last year and a half. Overall I like it alot and wish I had a linux equivilent (monodevelop has SOOOOOOOO far to go). The only thing I hate hate hate hate (x1000) is it's lousy integration with source safe when it comes to ASP.net projects. Ever try moving a web project from one location to another? Or try to get a un-source controlled copy of your project. Good luck, it's possible but excruciatingly painful.

    Just my $1 and 2 cents.

  • by SpryGuy (206254) on Thursday August 04, 2005 @11:53PM (#13246974)
    Resharper.

    It adds real-time syntax highlighting, additional keyword coloring, superb code navigation features, and code refactoring features, among many other very useful items.

    If you are using Visual Studio and doing any C# coding at all, you need to check out Resharper, from JetBrains... http://www.jetbrains.com/resharper/ [jetbrains.com]. I frankly don't know how anyone lives without it (or at least something similar).

    Version 2.0 (due out late this year) will also support 2005, Visual Basic, and ASP.Net coding

Is a person who blows up banks an econoclast?

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