Help Shape the VS PowerToys 2.0 Site

I've formed a virtual team inside Microsoft whose mission is to shape the future of the Visual Studio PowerToys site. Since this site was created for customers we figured we might as well involve customers in the design of the PowerToys 2.0 site.  Consider yourselves part of our virtual team if you'd like!  We don't even have a spec yet or a vision yet, but you can start giving me your feedback now on what the 2.0 site should be.  I'll share our drafts and progress here along the way to get your feedback.

For reference the 1.0 site went live in June 2003 with the following vision:

To help customers get more out of current releases of VS .NET through the release of cool tools from Microsoft that unblock requested scenarios or otherwise make life with VS .NET easier.

The 2.0 vision needs to be adjusted slightly to accommodate the following concepts. 

  • Cool tools are not only developed by Microsoft.  The site needs to be a place for non Microsoft tool developers to list their cool tools as well.
  • A tool does not have to be VS .NET specific.  For example: A tool could be something that extends the Windows Task Manager if it helps developers.
  • Customers need to know when new tools are added.
  • Customers need to find which tools are the best.
  • ???

I'll start by asking the same question I asked our virtual team.  Where do you go now to find tools you need to aid your development once you've already installed your IDE of choice?

Comments (21)
  1. Jerry says:

    Cool Stuff, maybe you could add to inform customers using RSS Feeds 🙂

    Hey – and please make sure we dual monitor power developers get the right tools to get most out of dual monitors 🙂

  2. It would be good to have some way of filtering the tools or having icons to show useful bits of data. The fields I would be interested in would be:

    – Supports VS 7.0, Supports 7.1, Supports current beta version

    – Supports C++, C#, VB, etc

    – What language it is written in (if source code is provided)

    It might also be useful to have a way of indicating how well an add-in supports a feature. For example my add-in ( should work with all languages that Visual Studio supports but I have only tested it with C++ (as that is what I know). It would probably be useful for developers using other languages but I have no way of checking.

  3. Andreas Häber says:

    Where do you go now to find tools you need to aid your development once you’ve already installed your IDE of choice?

    SysInternals creates a lot of very useful tools (and other cool stuff too).

    Would be nice to have one site to find useful tools 🙂 Hopefully we’ll see the fruits of opening up the VSIP SDK end up there too.

  4. Greg says:

    Where do I go to find…?

    I keep a Fav list of sites I find during my RSS trolling. When I need something that I don’t already have, I check my list of sites.

    Also as I read my RSS feeds and see something that I think I might use in the future, I save/mark it.

    And of course, there’s googling to find a tool…

    I completely agree with Andreas, on both how cool sysinternals is and that having a single/main/primary "Dev Power Tools" would be very cool.

  5. I rely a lot on CodeRush (, especially making custom templates (invc for System.Globalization.CultureInfo.InvariantCulture, for example).

    CodeRush gives me another few points of productivity today. It’s not free, but MS should consider buying some of their tech or something…

  6. Dylan Greene says:

    Screen shots for each item, and a way to leave feedback on the web site (like these comments) for each item.

  7. jledgard says:

    Jerry – Yup, it’s all about defining what types of RSS feeds we can provide.

    Jonathan – I also believe filtering and catagories will be a really important thing to nail down. I’ll post later about suggested sets of both.

    RichB – Yeah, I’d like this to be a place where people to post links to codesmith and other similar tools as well.

    Andreas – We use sysinternals a lot internally as well. And yes, opening up VSIP is what partially created the need for doing a site like this.

    Greg – Glad you are on board with our Vision!

    Michael – There is a line, and I’m not sure were it is, between supporting and consuming all of the cool venders that write for our platmorm. I’d like to see thier stuff on this central site with ratings and let them compete with similar entries.

    Dylan – Feedback is a priority for me. Screenshots would be cool, but I worry about policing the screenshots people post if this is an open site?

  8. Milliamp says:

    On policing the screenshots:

    They can submit the screenshot when they submit the tool, or update their submission.

    This way the submission can be aproved by a moderator before it is posted.

    Simmilar to how many download sites work.

  9. Glen says:

    One thing that might be extremely useful is some type of categorization. Something that will, at a glance, tell the developer if the tool is for: IDE extension, debugging, performance monitoring, etc.

  10. josh ledgard says:

    I like the moderation concept. In fact, I’ve made it part of the priorities I just posted. Feel free to comment there as well.

    Glen – Yup, it’s going to be tough to nail down just the right set of catagories.

  11. nana says:

    Using Visual Studio .NET

  12. Mark Miller says:

    While CodeRush is not free, the CodeRush Core engine and the plug-in wizards *are* free. So you can use CodeRush to create really cool VS PowerToys and share them with the rest of the world.

    Extending Visual Studio is remarkably easy with CodeRush. CodeRush also has a great deal of power that’s simply not available in VSIP or the VS automation model.

    If you’re thinking about developing a cool VS PowerToy, you should take a look.

  13. Nick Berardi says:





  14. Jim Chwaszczewski says:

    I’d be interested in a side-by-side Hex Viewer/Editor as part of VS.NET.

  15. josh ledgard says:

    Jim: I can’t really fulfill your wish for now. I’m mostly planning the site for people to link and comment on their apps.


  16. cyriel says:

    @Mark: Can those free bits of CodeRush be downloaded somewhere then? I have digged through the whole DevExpress site but all i can find is a eval version of the commercial product.

  17. dre says:

    How about adding support for themes for the ui

    such as

    …visual studio 6

    …borland c++

    …borland dos c++

    as in like a blue background with yellow identifiers etc

    Dev-C++ ( has taken a good shot at this lately..

  18. @cyriel

    The evaluation of the retail version of Coderush is what mark was referring to. The Coderush features are all implemented as CodeRush plug-ins. The evaluation plug-ins will time out but the engine and the wizards have no time-out code.

    Bottom-line: You can download the evaluation, build a plug-in, and give it to another developer who has also downloaded the evaluation. He can run your plug-in for as long as you determine (you can add your own timeouts to plug-ins and the engine will enforce them).

    The only cost is you will both have to download the evaluation version and be potentially exposed to CodeRush features. I should warn you they are so addictive it has been said before that they should have a 12 step program.

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