The Visual Studio Team recently released a set of installable extensions that help to improve the productivity while working with the new Visual Studio 2010. This set of extensions is called Visual Studio Productivity Power Tools, and it really keeps its promises.
1. Editor Improvements
There is a set of features that directly integrate into the Code Editor. At the first glance after installing the VSPPT you can see the current editing line is entirely highlighted (see figure 1) This is good for immediately recognizing which line we are working in. Personally, I think it can be of great use, since it often happens to me not to immediately see where I was editing after e.g. an ALT+TAB switch between windows.
Figure 1: Highlighting of the current line (current caret position)
- Automatic Brace Closing (ABC)
This works with all types of braces, as well as with quotes.
- Triple-Click to select entire line
Simply by holding the CTRL-Button and clicking on the variable/function/class etc. Just like in Word when you are following links!
- Automatic Statement Completion: SHIFT+ENTER will insert a semicolon and end the current editing line
- Move line up/down: Press ALT+UP/DOWN to swap the current editing line with the line above or below, respectively.
2. The Quick Access Tool Window
A very handy tool when it comes to remembering menu item’s locations. Do you waste time searching through the menu for command or tool window you would like to access? This problem’s solved now. Simply type CTRL+3 in order to bring up the QA Tool Window. As you type, the window will show you:
- Menu commands
- VS options
- Project templates
(a personal remark: it would have been nice if the team would have also included the option to search for item templates over the QA).
You can cycle through the search results by pressing CTRL+3 more often. Figure 2 shows the Quick Access Tool Window.
Figure 2: The Quick Access Tool Window listing results by category.
3. Searchable “Add Reference” Dialog
A great improvement – it’ll gonna save us a lot of time looking for assemblies we need.
Figure 3: The new “Add Reference” dialog
4. Assignment Alignment (oh, what a rhyme!)
Very nice feature for keeping the overview when having a lot of assignments – in such a case it might be hard to read the assignment value of a variable that has been assigned to somewhere in the middle of the block.
Figure 4: Unaligned assignments
Hitting CTRL+ALT+] (English keyboard layout, with the German one it didn’t work but only produced a square bracket). It’ll transform the code from Figure 4 into something that looks like the code in Figure 5:
Figure 5: Aligned assignments.
There are many more extensions that come with the Visual Studio Productivity Power Tools, and I pointed out only the ones who caught my eye at the first glance. However, for a full feature list, you should go to Productivity Power Tools Page.
Below you can find a download link for getting the Microsoft Productivity Power Tools:
5. Only Get What You Need
By the way, in case you shouldn’t want to use each feature of the Power Tools, you can simply enable/disable them one by one using the Tools-Options-Productivity Power Tools dialog window, as shown in Figure 6:
Figure 6: The PPT options dialog.
Note: A restart of VS 2010 is needed for the changes to take effect.
These extensions are very handy when it comes to speeding up development and saving time for trivial tasks like closing braces, ending statements, searching for templates and references etc. I think I’m going to try them for the daily productive use in order to be able to confront the coding with/without the VSPPT. But if my first impression persists, then it’s gonna be a great time-saver and productivity-improver.
Best regards and stay tuned!