Visual Studio Tools for Unity


Lots of developers use Visual Studio like the default code editor for Unity engine for many years and looks like, since Visual Studio 2015 release, integration between both products are stronger than before. Since Unity3D 5.2, Visual Studio Community Edition 2015 is the default Unity3D code editor for developers on Windows.

First of all, both tools have cross-product installations. If you have fresh PC with Visual Studio 2015 installed you can find that New Project dialog contains a new category there – Game. You cannot use this category to create new projects because there are just links to some popular gaming frameworks including Unity.

 

Selecting Install Unity, Visual Studio will help you to install Unity and Visual Studio Tools for Unity:

In case of Unity installer, integration even much better: users can select and install Visual Studio Community Edition directly from Unity installer:

Pay special attention that starting with Visual Studio Community Edition announcement, game developers can use all important Visual Studio features for free including extensions (plug-ins) and debug features. If you want to download VS Community Edition separately, you can do it visiting https://www.visualstudio.com/ web site.

Visual Studio Community Edition has some licensing limitations. For example, you can use it for small teams only (up to 5 people) but if you work in a big company you can use Professional or Enterprise version of Visual Studio. In this case Unity installer will recognize existing version of Visual Studio and propose to install Visual Studio Tools for Unity only that is a bridge between Unity and Visual Studio 2015:

 

So, using Unity installer or Visual Studio, it’s really hard to miss installation opportunity for Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for Unity. Let’s see how to use the tools themselves.

The good news that Unity3D 5.2 has native support for Visual Studio Tools. So, you should not add any packages or something like before. So, you simply need to create a new project or open existing one. To make sure that Visual Studio is the default editor you can call Edit->Preferences menu item and open Unity Preferences window that contains information about external tools including script editor:

On this step you can start working with your Unity project, create scripts in C#, objects, assets etc. Once you want to open the project in Visual Studio you simply need to use Open in C# menu item.

It’s easy to do and Unity will open your project in Visual Studio. Let’s look at some important features that you can use there.

First of all you can use Unity Project Explorer (Shift+Alt+E):

This window is similar to Project window in Unity and can present project’s files in the same way. So, if you need to find some files very quickly you can use the same way like in Unity. Unity Project Explorer and Solution Explorer show project’s files in different ways. Especially you can see that difference for large projects.

The next two windows allows you to override MonoBehaviour class methods very quickly. You can use Ctrl+Shift+Q combinations to call Quick MonoBehaviours window. Just start typing name of the method and the window will help to select the right one:

 

The second window you can call using Ctrl+Shift+M combination:

 

Using MonoBehaviour wizard you can generate several method stubs at once.

Two more features of Visual Studio Tools for Unity is supporting shaders editing and integration with Unity output. Thanks to the first feature you can see coloring syntaxes and formatting features if you are working with shaders in Visual Studio. The second feature allows you to see Unity errors and warnings in Visual Studio error window.

Finally, the most important feature there is Debugging. You can connect to Unity Debugger using Debug -> Attach Unity Debugger menu item. Select Unity Instance window will show available Unity instances and you can select any of them:

 

Or you can simply click Attach to Unity button on Standard toolbar.

Once Visual Studio is connected, you can open Unity editor and use Play/Stop features. Of course, Visual Studio supports breakpoints, allows to evaluate expressions and variables and other debugging features.

 


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