New commandbars for Visual Studio “Orcas” (maybe)

Microsoft has just published some early specifications ( about the new Visual Studio “Orcas” and among them, it is the “CommandBar Improvements” ( 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!

One thought on “New commandbars for Visual Studio “Orcas” (maybe)”

  1. Hey Carlos,

    I am not sure if you know this, but in Orcas, we have switched from using the CTC format for adding menus/commands to using a new VSCT format. The new format is XML based and makes it much easier for us to build tools on top of this format in the future to allow developers to more easily add commands and menus. We have a prototype for something like that already. In fact, you can take a look at the VSCT format in the prerelease folder of the VS SDK.

    We are still busy wrapping up the final release of the VS 2005 SDK, so it won’t be until at least the middle of this year when you will see design tools for VSCT.


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