Intriguing things about macros

There are some intriguing things about macros. One of them is how to add a custom assembly to the Add References dialog of the Project Explorer of the Macros editor. I have documented it in this article:

HOWTO: Add a custom assembly to the Add References dialog of Visual Studio macros editor
http://www.mztools.com/Articles/2007/MZ007.htm

Other one that I had noticed is that apparently breakpoints on environment event handlers (such as BuildEvents) are ignored. I have discovered that Craig Skibo documented how to debug event handlers it in the Wiki part (Community Content) of the MSDN documentation (http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/h9b001cb(VS.80).aspx):

“To debug an event handler, set a breakpoint on the line of code within the event handler where you want execution of the event handler to break. Then, place the editor caret ourside the body of a function, subroutine or event handler, and press F5 to set the Macros editor into debug mode. Perform a task which would cause the event handler to be fired.”

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MZ-Tools articles series: HOWTO: Create command names without “.Connect” in Visual Studio add-ins

If you are wondering how to create command names without the “.Connect” part in your Visual Studio addin (yes, even in VS 2005 using the XML .AddIn file without COM registration) see my new article:

HOWTO: Create command names without “.Connect” in Visual Studio add-ins
http://www.mztools.com/Articles/2007/MZ006.htm

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New Web Form designer for Visual Studio “Orcas”

Visual Studio “Orcas” will feature a new Web Form designer codenamed “Quartz” based on FrontPage technologies replacing the one of Visual Studio 2005 codenamed “Trident” based on IE (MSHTML):

Sapphire: New Web Form designer in Visual Studio Orcas
http://blogs.msdn.com/mikhailarkhipov/archive/2007/01/20/sapphire-new-web-form-designer-in-visual-studio-orcas.aspx

If you have tried to make your Visual Studio add-in to work with WebForms or HTML pages, you know how difficult it is. So, I have opened a suggestion in the Microsoft Connect website for feedback:

Add extensibility support for WebForms/HTML forms in VS Orcas
https://connect.microsoft.com/VisualStudio/feedback/ViewFeedback.aspx?FeedbackID=254426

You can visit it and add your vote to my suggestion. Hopefully we can have a better extensibility for Webforms/HTML pages in VS Orcas. The February CTP will be the starting point to test it.

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MZ-Tools articles series: HOWTO Locate commandbars in international versions of Visual Studio

If you are developing addins for Visual Studio, you should be aware that there are several localized editions (Spanish, German, French, etc.). This article provides info to take into account when locating commandbars by name in your add-in: 

HOWTO: Locate commandbars in international versions of Visual Studio
http://www.mztools.com/articles/2007/MZ002.htm

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More tools for the add-in developer

In a previous post I mentioned several tools that are part of my toolset as an add-in developer. In this post I would like to mention Microangelo, an icon editor that I use to create the icons/pictures for the command buttons of my MZ-Tools add-in. Once created there, I copy and paste them in the image editor of Visual Studio to change the background to almost green (R=0, G=254, B=0) that you must use for command pictures as explained here:

HOWTO: Creating custom pictures for Visual Studio .NET add-ins commands, buttons and toolwindows.
http://www.mztools.com/articles/2005/MZ007.htm

I have been using MicroAngelo since almost 10 years ago, when I started working at my current company where we purchased it. I liked it, so years later I purchased a license of version 5.x for my own use on Windows XP and I used it to create the TrueColor icons of the version of my add-in for VS 2005, which was very easy thanks to the tool (I am not very talented for graphics but I got managed to create some gradients). But several weeks ago I got a new laptop (a very nice Sony Vaio SZ3) and I installed Windows Vista, Office 2007, but alas, the capture feature of Microangelo 5.x did not work. Today I have got a new version 6.0 of Microangelo that is compatible and certified for Windows Vista 🙂

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Happy New Year (and MVP again)

It has been several weeks since my last post but December 2006 was a quite hectic month, apart from the Cristhmas I got a LASIK operation for myopia on December 1 and I worked hard to get a new build of my MZ-Tools add-in with many optimizations for January 1. So, Happy New Year!

I also got the MVP title one more year on January 2 so the year could not start better…that means my 4th year as MVP, still in the generic “Visual Basic” category since there is no enough people for a “VS extensibility” category. But it doesn’t matter, I am commited to VS extensibility and this year I do plan to write many more mini articles (HOWTO, BUG, etc.) on my web site that I will announce here.

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New commandbars for Visual Studio “Orcas” (maybe)

Microsoft has just published some early specifications (http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/vstudio/aa948851.aspx) about the new Visual Studio “Orcas” and among them, it is the “CommandBar Improvements” (http://download.microsoft.com/download/5/9/c/59cd0dc5-4691-4c3e-840c-66d865f27692/command-bar-improvements.xps) which has an intriguing paragraph:

“The work we will do here will cause us to diverge from Office’s MSO Commmand Bar look and feel. Office 2007 (formerly known as Office “12”), will still use MSO Command Bars in applications such as Outlook. There, for example, customers will still see bubbly, beveled Command Bars. We believe that it is appropriate for Visual Studio to diverge from Office’s Command Bar appearance”

So, it seems that for the first time Visual Studio “Orcas” will not borrow the commandbars from Office, and I don’t know how to feel about that because all add-in developers know that creating commandbars and buttons in Visual Studio is tricky and to give a button a transparent custom picture is, well, I don’t want to get started about this… Also, I have experienced (well, my customers too) random COMExceptions (although very very rarely) creating or destroying commandbars, which are not reproducible and therefore don’t seem to be a problem on the side of the add-in. So, with a new commandbar model it could be that things get worse, or that finally commandbars are easy and problem-free, time will tell, but what is sure is that if those especifications get real, add-in developers will have to test their add-ins since the early CTPs of Orcas with the new commandbars, to report the problems that they find with the new model. Stay tuned!

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