6 Tools for Visual Studio


As modern day developers, we are used to incorporating all kinds of tools and utilities into our workflow in the attempt to achieve greater efficiency, comfort, and speed. Spending most of our daily time diving deep into projects, source code, and algorithms, it makes sense to take advantage of all possible opportunities to make our tool of the trade – the IDE – a super-charged productivity machine! Since every IT craftsman has his own toolset of plugins and extensions, it is hard to pick the ones that will work great for everyone. Instead, this article will try to cover some of the most highly regarded and commonly used tools that will make your programming experience feel like never before.

Productivity Power Tool

This top notch tool is a set of extensions to Visual Studio Professional, improving developer productivity. Its features include:

  • Quick Find Extension: turns the default find and replace pop-up into a powerful search tool available at the top right-hand corner of the IDE. After hitting Ctrl+I or Ctrl+F, it highlights the results as you type.
  • Enhanced Scrollbar: allows you to easily see the interesting artifacts in your files (breakpoints, edits, bookmarks, warnings, errors, etc) and makes navigating between them intuitive and simple. The default mode is the “scroll bar only mode” which overlays icons onto the standard scrollbar, allowing you to view these artifacts. In the source map mode, the default scroll bar is replaced which allows you to click on any item in the scrollbar and navigate directly to it.
  • Solution Navigator: this tool works as an enhanced Solution Explorer. You can expand source files and navigate through their classes, expand classes to navigate to their members (it’s C# and VB only), search your solution down to class members, filter the solution or projects to see recently opened files, unsaved files, and view information related to classes and all their members.
  • Organize Imports for Visual Basic: it allows you to sort the imports logically and remove the ones that aren’t used.
  • Tab Well UI: Floating Tab Wells, Pinned tabs, makes tabs scrollable, shows close button in tab well

Indent Guides

Using this extension enables you to render indent guides in Visual Studio windows. Guides can be displayed at the indent specified in your settings, regardless of tabs or spaces, or wherever text has been indented to.

There are three styles of indent guides: solid, dotted, and dashed, all available in thin and thick varieties and customizable color. The deepest indent guide that includes the block with the caret is displayed in a different color or a glow to help you find the start and end of your code. Guides can be shown and customized for any language in Visual Studio. It reads the spaces, not the code.

Indent guides

Code Compare

This is a useful file and folder comparison tool that features a new level of source code comparison. This helps to develop and merge files simultaneously.

Some of the key features in this tool: Language-oriented comparison, source control integration, Windows Shell integration, Visual Studio integration, folder synchronization, lexical comparison, convenient user interface, improved comparison algorithm

Code Metrics Viewer

Code Metrics Power Tool calculates the maintainability index, cyclomatic complexity, class coupling, depth of inheritance, and lines of code for types and members of a specific assembly. Code metrics are focused on measuring the ability of a software system to evolve, which is an indicator of the inner quality of all software.

Visual Studio 2010 Professional does not support any calculation of code metrics. If you need such a feature then this tool is perfect for you!

code metrics viewer

Sample Browser Visual Studio Extension

Developers love code samples! These samples serve as the starting point for many IT specialists to learn a new technology. They also provide straightforward solutions and helpful references when developers need to solve tough programming tasks.

Sample Browser Visual Studio Extension for Visual Studio 2012 and Visual Studio 2010 is an effort to evolve the code sample user experience. You can search and download 3500+ Microsoft official code samples and community samples, including over 700 Windows 8 samples and more than 1000 All-In-One Code Framework customer-driven code samples.

Some of benefits of this tool are:

  • Integrated and Rich Sample Search Experience: Sample Browser Visual Studio Extension is integrated with Visual Studio Quick Launch Bar, Toolbar, Code Editor and File Menu. It gives you quick access to samples while you steamroll your code in Visual Studio. A rich set of sample search conditions allows you to filter search results by language, owner, technology, and the targeted Visual Studio version.
  • Integrated and Flexible Sample Download Experience: The Sample Browser Visual Studio Extension is integrated with the built-in support for downloading online samples in Visual Studio 2012. Code samples downloaded in Sample Browser Visual Studio Extension are visible to the built-in code sample feature in Visual Studio 2012.

Visual Studio Achievements

A software engineer’s contributions often go unrecognized. Their work only seems to be noticed when there are bugs or when the final project ships, but rarely is a developer appreciated for all the ingenuity and thought put in a piece of code – and all the courage and involvement it took to write it.

There are seven categories of achievements you can earn, including categories like Unleashing Visual Studio, Power Coder, Don’t Try This At Home and many more.

With the Visual Studio Achievements Extension, various achievements are unlocked based on your activity. When you unlock an achievement, Visual Studio updates your Channel 9 profile recalculating your position on the global leaderboards. Now, all that sweat and tears won’t go unnoticed!

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