Did you know… How to use the Task List

In Whidbey, we’ve split the Task List into two parts:

  1. Error List –for errors and warnings
  2. Task List –for user tasks and todo

With the task list, you’ll be able to track user tasks – just click on the “Create User Task” button on the toolbar and type in your task. This will feel very familiar to Outlook tasks.

You will also be able to track custom tasks that appear as comments in the code. You will need to switch from User Tasks to Comments in the drop down combo box. I didn’t think this was very discoverable when I first started using the Task List, but maybe it’s just me. I was thinking a “show all tasks” filter would be more desirable. Oh well.

Tasks that appear under the Comments section are those that are defined in Tools – Options – Task List. By default you’ll get HACK, TODO, and UNDONE. You can create custom tokens for custom tasks, like “CodeReviewNeeded” or “Investigate” (or using people’s names to assign them tasks in the code – perhaps for students).

Happy Visual Studio’ing!

Comments (9)

  1. Todd Brooks says:

    Unfortunately, the VC IDE team decided this feature was not that important and only partially implemented it in VS.NET 2002/2003 (I haven’t looked at 2005).

    In all the other languages in VS.NET, the Task List will show ALL tags (if the user selects) in the solution’s source files. In VC.NET, the Task List only shows those tags for the open documents, no matter what you select.

    This makes the feature useless, as only being able to see tags in open documents in a solution that potentially has hundreds of source files isn’t very helpful. The official word from the VC IDE team was that they didn’t see this as an important feature. Once again, I feel VC gets the short end of the stick.

    One good thing has come about MS’ decision to not implement this feature, is that I found about Axosoft’s OnTime product, which has been an absolute godsend.

  2. Steve says:

    I have always wondered, is there a way to integerate the tasks for VS to Outlook? Does Team System do any of that?

  3. Norman Diamond says:

    It would be nice to be able to right-click[*] an entry in the error list and get a context menu, in which one of the entries would be "help". It would even be nice to left-click[*] an entry in the error list, press F1, and get help. In both cases, help would direct the MSDN browser to open the relevant page.

    It would also be nice to get the full text of the selected entry in the error list, instead of having to switch to the output window and search for which set of details correspond to the troublesome error entry.

    [* Yeah, I discriminated against left-handers in writing that. In retaliation, the marketer of the Microsoft Mouse is going to, um, uhhhh…]

  4. saraford says:

    Hi Norman,

    If the error description isn’t long enough for the column width, it should wrap onto the next line. Is this not happening for you?



  5. Norman Diamond says:

    > If the error description isn’t long enough

    > for the column width, it should wrap onto

    > the next line

    It does do that. But the text in the error list is still a lot shorter than the text in the output window.

    By the way the text in the output window doesn’t wrap. Often an error message starts with a long line that needs horizontal scrolling to read it all, and then several more lines of details where usually each individual line is shorter and more readable. Anyway, most of this doesn’t get copied into the Error List. When looking at an error in the error list, we then have to switch to the output window, find the portion that corresponds to the same error, and read the details there.

  6. saraford says:

    Norman: I’d strongly encourage you to log a bug against the Error List / Output Window regarding the behavior you’re seeing. Also attach a screenshot, if you can. A picture speaks a thousand words.

    I can also log the issue on your behalf if you want (i’ll need to get more info from you), but if you log it yourself, you get the monitor the bug process. Just let me know.

  7. Norman Diamond says:

    > I’d strongly encourage you to log a bug

    > against the Error List / Output Window

    > regarding the behavior you’re seeing.

    It didn’t look like a bug, it looked like it was performing as designed and the design was still, well, in beta. Next time I see a juicy example, I’ll try to take time to log a suggestion. It’ll take at least two screenshots. Actually it’ll take at least two suggestions too.

    I think the behavior changed a bit between beta 1 and beta 2. One time when I clicked on an error entry in the error list, and then clicked on the tab to open the output window, one line of output in the output window was highlighted. It was the first line of output relating to the selected error entry, so while I was scrolling and hunting for that information, it did stand out.

    But the rest of it seemed to be the same as in beta 1. Subsequent lines of output relating to the selected error weren’t highlighted. And the first line was still about 3 times as wide as the screen, not wrapped. Clicking on the tab for the error list again, the selected error entry was still selected, fully wrapped but only containing part of the information that the output window had.

    So it really does look like this was by design.

  8. oshah says:


    Is there a way to get the old behaviour, where the task list and error list appear in one pane?

    Thanks for the tip on Outlook tasks btw.

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