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”.
Add images to your code in Visual Studio with the ImageComments extension
ImageComments extension by Luke McQuade lets you show images among code in Visual Studio 2010/2012:
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
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
See 10 minutes video describing all 11 new features. Read detailed breakdown for all features and download the tools.
Visual Commander v1.5 adds navigation to relevant code from compiler errors
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
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.
See more lines of code with syntactic line compression
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
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
In this case you may want to compress only blank lines. This setting is available in syntactic line compression options:
Syntactic line compression options
I think it’s a nice enhancement that just works.
Macros for Visual Studio 2013
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:
Macro Explorer lists your own macros and preinstalled samples:
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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Parsing HTML in C#
Today I stumbled upon a bizarre problem, I wanted to parse an HTML for a site to find out if the site contains any RSS feeds. After some research I found out that finding the RSS feed for a site is not that hard, you have to look for an element that looks like this
“Easy task”, I said, me Mr.Optimistic; “I will just load it up in XElement and using Linq to XML to get the data I want”. BUT guess what the web is filled with crazy HTML that a standard .NET parser such as XElement just gives up on and blows up in flames.
After some heavy head banging to walls and ceilings, I found the solution, HtmlAgilityPack. This open source project lets you load HTML even if it is not in a good shape. With some options HTMLAgilityPack will fix these errors and then you…
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MVVM in the web world
Lately I have been experimenting with some web and I must say. the web is really making really amazing advances. The JS libraries out there are pretty awesome and make your job much more fun that it was a couple of years back !
One library that really really impressed me is (no not JQuery even though I must say I am quite impressed with JQuery as well !!) Knockout.js. The idea behind Knockout.js is to introduce MVVM to the world of web… One might ask does it even make sense to introduce a pattern like MVVM, how will it work without data binding capabilities ?? Well easy, bake binding capabilities in the library and that is what Knockout.js is all about.
I will not give a deep dive to knockout but I will just show some of the capabilities of this library and then explain why I…
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Anything Over Anything – Tunneling Sofware
http://AoA.codeplex.com – tunneling software written using the pre-release version of the Rx framework. Currently the implementation only supports http protocol, the exchange of data is done by posting the data in http request and then returning the data accumulated on the server. This is done several times a second and requires an normal one directional http access.
The abstraction of the tunnel makes it easy to tunnel any protocols traffic over another protocol, thus the name – Anything Over Anthing.
Would be very glad if someone could add to this project
Today I have become a proud owner of Solid State Hard Drive
This drive is going to be used as a repository for Dropbox, where I have 1TB of space.
It will be the first time that I use this technology – in my current PC I have an SSD that goes directly into the motherboard, then a normal SSD that is connected by SATA cable and the old fashioned hard drive. This will be a nice replacement.
However, Seagate are not pairing this hard disk with a proper sized SSD, instead it has only got 8GB of NAND cache!
But in my case all its going to be used for is for centralising data stored in Dropbox, so the performance is not an issue. Also, you can do a lot with 8GB of cache if you do it properly.