VSX Community Letter for March 2008

This month's letter includes a summary of our new Visual Studio Gallery website we launched a few weeks ago, the updated VSX developer center, information about what the VSX team has been working on in the past few months, event news on VSX, some new VSX projects released, more VSX content online, and a preview of what's coming next month.

What's new with the VSX team

Our team continues to work on upcoming releases of the Visual Studio SDK for VS 2008 as well as planning around the next version of Visual Studio. We have part of our team working on the next update for the VS SDK while others work on following versions that will include more tools within the VS SDK itself. Our team is working on determining when the next release of the VS SDK will be, and we expect to know more details on that next month. We are determining if we want to release an updated VS SDK soon with very small changes or wait a bit longer to release a newer VS SDK which contains more significant enhancements.

While we work on upcoming versions of the VS SDK, we are also working reducing the size of the VS Shell runtimes. One thing we plan to ship when VS 2008 Service Pack 1 ships, is to re-release the VS Shell runtimes. The new redistributable packages will not include the actual .NET Framework 3.5 installation bits. The new VS Shell chainer feature will still automatically check for the .NET Framework 3.5 and install it as needed. This will reduce the size of the VS Shell setup by about 200 MB.

Visual Studio Gallery announced

Our team is still buzzing with enthusiasm from our recent launch of the new Visual Studio Gallery website. For additional news and announcements for the Visual Studio Gallery:

Visual Studio Gallery tips

You can access the site via http://visualstudiogallery.com/, or the shorter friendly redirect http://vsgallery.com/.

Anthony Cangialosi, program manager on our VS Ecosystem team who is responsible for the Visual Studio Gallery site, has started blogging again with information and news about the new site. Recently posted on Anthony's blog was: Seeing all the VS Gallery Extensions

Just thought I would share a useful tip for the Gallery. You may find that you want to see more than the top 10 newest items or the 10 most viewed items. We'll be adding a more link to the bottom of those in the near future but in the mean time you can see this by using a trick in the search bar.

Enter a space (the actual character space with the space bar) into the search control in the upper right corner of the gallery. Then press the search button. You'll get back a list of all the extensions since all extensions will have a description with a space in it. Now sort this list by the column you are interested in, modified date, number of views, cost category, etc.

If you use the tip above and search the Visual Studio Gallery with just a single space character, you'll see we just passed 500 items listed this week, which means we are averaging about 100 new items listed on the site per week.

VSX Developer Center updated

The Visual Studio Extensibility Developer center at http://msdn.com/vsx was updated recently with a new interface similar to the one found on the VB and C# dev centers, and others. The site now has its own stand-alone center with independent navigation pages on VSX via the tabbed navigation (Library, Learn, Downloads, Support, Community). There will be additional enhancements to the site soon along with upcoming new VSX content like whitepapers, videos, samples, and more.

VSX on Channel 9

Late last month we had two videos posted on Channel 9, both interviews by Dan Fernandez:

Channel 9: Anthony Cangialosi and Ken Levy: Visual Studio Gallery

I catch up with Anthony Cangialosi and Ken Levy from the Visual Studio Extensibility team to talk about the newly launched site for finding Visual Studio extensions, www.visualstudiogallery.com. You'll also see Ken walk through using two cool, free extensions that you can download from the gallery, StickyNotes and the Source Code Outliner PowerToy.

Channel 9: Ken Levy and Aaron Marten: Visual Studio 2008 Extensibility

Ken and Aaron talk about the new features for extensibility in Visual Studio 2008 and the Visual Studio 2008 SDK including touching on key topics like:
- How you can build your own IDE with the Visual Studio Shell
- How you could create your own language service using Babel
- How to plug into editor features like IntelliSense for statement completion
- How to build your own "Hello World" tool Window

New "How Do I?" Videos for Visual Studio Extensibility

There are many new How Do I videos on VSX published, and you can subscribe to the "RSS feed for "How Do I?" videos for VS and VSX. These are great videos created by VSX developers Hilton Giesenow and Dylan Miles.

New articles on LearnVSXNow!

István Novák continues his awesome series of VSX related educational content he calls LearnVSXNow!, now with 15 VSX technical articles posted with more great educational content on the way.

DreamSpark provides Microsoft developers tools to students for free

The new Microsoft DreamSpark combined with our free Visual Studio SDK opens the door for many students to learn, use, and extend Visual Studio for free. Some additional comments from our team in Aaron Marten's blog: FREE Visual Studio 2008 for College Students via DreamSpark.

Upgrading VS 2005 Packages to VS 2008

If you have created packages using the VS SDK for VS SDK 2005 and have or plan to start using the VS SDK for VS 2008, check out James Lau's blog post: Upgrading VS 2005 Packages to VS 2008: A more Advanced Guide.

VSX at events

Earlier this week, Quan To and I spoke at the local .NET Developers Association user group on VSX: Extend Your Visual Studio Development Experience. The session lasted over an hour and a half we counted 59 attendees total. Quan showed how create a simple source code outliner extensions using the VS SDK. Quan has a link to the walkthrough steps for that demo and a short summary of our presentation in his blog post: VSX Talk at the .NET Developer Association weekly meeting.

If you plan to give a VSX related presentation at a conference or user group, feel free to let me know in advance so that I might mention here on the VSX team blog to help increase awareness.

VS extension tips of the month

We posted a new PowerToy called PowerCommands for Visual Studio 2008, and it's already the #1 most viewed listing on the Visual Studio Gallery and the #1 download on MSDN Code Gallery (not including documentation downloads).  If you downloaded the PowerCommands readme prior today, you may want to check out the updated version of the readme on the download page. The new PowerCommands utility along with Source Outliner PowerToy is a Visual Studio 2008 and StickyNotes, all ranked as the top 3 most viewed listings on the Visual Studio as of today, all make great complementary free VS IDE productivity tools.

As of today, the PowerCommands has over 5000 unique views on the Visual Studio Gallery and over 4000 downloads from MSDN Code Gallery. Feel free to post messages in the Discussions or Issue Tracker pages of the Code Gallery page to provide feedback for possible updates and future versions of PowerCommands.

Next month

In next month's letter, we will have more news from the team, additional VSX content online, and additional information about our upcoming version of the VS SDK for VS 2008.

Please send your feedback to us via the Contact link on any of our team member blogs, or post a technical question in the MSDN Forum for VSX. You can also email me directly at klevy@microsoft.com or using the Email link on my blog.

Ken Levy
Program Manager
Visual Studio Tools Ecosystem

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