New Microsoft Connect and MSDN forum for Visual Studio 2010 Beta 1 extensibility

As you likely know when reading this, Microsoft has released the Beta 1 of Visual Studio 2010. This release introduces a lot of internal and external changes, such as a WPF-based shell, a new WPF-based editor, and a new extension manager, etc. and therefore a lot of issues will arise with existing or new extensions (I certainly have a few of them regarding add-ins that I will blog in the next days).

You can report feedback to Microsoft about this release regarding extensibility using a couple of ways:

The Microsoft Connect web site:

The new VS 2010 Beta 1 Extensibility Forum:

So, EnvDTE.Solution.AddXXX and EnvDTE.ProjectItems.AddXXX methods return Nothing “by design”…

These days I am working on some Visual Studio automation to perform unit testing against some features of my MZ-Tools add-in. I know I should have done this long time ago, but I never found the time or willingness to do it until last week. And since then I am thrilled because while the cost of writing code to test an application can make unit testing arguable, if you have to test your add-in against four Visual Studio versions and soon five versions, it clearly pays off, specially if you are a perfectionist like me that do a lot of code refactoring (with the risk of breaking something) to get better code.

Unit testing add-ins poses some challenges since the add-in DLL must be hosted inside the VS IDE, likely its classes and methods are not public, the add-in needs a solution to be tested against it, etc. I will try to blog about all this in a few weeks when I have time again (I’ll travel to Japan tomorrow for two weeks) but for now suffice to say that I am automating Visual Studio to make the tests to create the (disposable) solution, projects, files and sample code that they will use, rather than depending on already created solutions (which should be in different format for each VS version). And one thing that I have found while automating Visual Studio is that the EnvDTE.Solution.AddFromTemplate and EnvDTE.ProjectItems.AddFromTemplate methods return null (Nothing in VB.NET) in VS 2005 or higher rather than the created EnvDTE.Project or EnvDTE.ProjectItem.

I hardly remembered that I read about this in the Working with Visual Studio 2005 book (which despite its misleading name is about creating add-ins). Checking the MSDN documentation yesterday I saw that Ed Dore (from MS) explained it in the Community Content section, and when I was about to write a MZ-Tools article about it, I have found that I already had one about this back in 2006:

PRB: Solution.AddXXX and ProjectItems.AddXXX methods return Nothing (null)

Needless to say, I think it is a pity this loss of functionality introduced by VS 2005 due to changes in the wizard/templates mechanism. If only one file is created, it should return it. If more than one file is created, it should return the main one (such as Form1.cs rather than Form1.Designer.cs). Or if all that is not possible with the exising methods, provide new AddFromTemplate2 methods that return a collection of added files. All that is better than returning nothing and forcing the developer to guess the added file iterating the collection or using the OnItemAdded event.

BTW, using the AddFromTemplate methods is very tricky across Visual Studio versions and across languages in the same version. I will try to write an entry about this on the plane to post when I am online again 🙂

MZ-Tools Articles Series: HOWTO: Getting information about Visual Studio windows from an add-in

A common question about Visual Studio windows is how to get information about them. It happens that the automation model uses the same class (EnvDTE.Window) for documents and toolwindows, so the first question is how to differentiate both. And once you know that it is a toolwindow, which one is it? It happens that you have the Kind property, but also the hidden Type property. And the Guids that identify toolwindows types are scattered among two assemblies (EnvDTE and EnvDTE80), with different class names, and even in different constant groups in the same class. My new article tries to explain all this:

HOWTO: Getting information about Visual Studio windows from an add-in

MZ-Tools Articles Series: HOWTO: Understanding Visual Studio behavior when an add-in tries to edit a read-only file

When using Visual Basic 6.0, if you tried to edit a read-only file (a checked-in file under source control, or a “by hand” read-only file), you got an error messagebox and that was all. However, when using Visual Studio .NET, if you try to edit a read-only file, a lot of things can happen depending on several dialog prompts and configurable settings. Even things that IMHO should not be allowed by Visual Studio, such as allowing editing a read-only file and deferring the problem of what to do with the changes when trying to save it. When writing an add-in that tries to modify a file, you should take all them into account:

HOWTO: Understanding Visual Studio behavior when an add-in tries to edit a read-only file