Why to become a Microsoft Visual Studio Industry Partner (VSIP) “Basic” level

Microsoft has been offering the Visual Studio Industry Partner Program (VSIP Program: https://vsipprogram.com)  since many years ago. Initially there was a single level that required a fee, but soon it was offered in three levels (Affiliate, Alliance, Premier), being the first one free (complimentary). Later, the Affiliate level was transformed into the Basic level, still being free. Somehow, I have spent all these years without becoming an “Affiliate” or “Basic” partner, despite developing and selling my MZ-Tools product and being heavily involved in Visual Studio extensibility since 2002. I think there were several reasons:

  • To develop add-ins, the VS SDK was not required (until VS 2013).
  • Even if you develop packages, the VS SDK and documentation is public and free.
  • MSDN provides documentation to develop add-ins or packages. The documentation was not very good at first, but improved over time.
  • You have forums (newsgroups, Yahoo, MSDN, StackOverflow, etc.) to ask questions and get technical support.
  • You have also blogs from the VS team to learn new things about Visual Studio (or TFS or Visual Studio Online).
  • Soon I became a provider of technical help for add-ins in forums and my blog and articles, complementing the official documentation ;-). I have entered the VS SDK packages area very late (forced by VS 2015).
  • You have Microsoft Connect to report bugs. I have reported dozens and many have being fixed by Microsoft before the RTM versions of Visual Studio.
  • Being an MVP since 2004, I have access to restricted information and private VS CTPs and previews from Microsoft.
  • I do VSX development, blogging and forum support at spare time (I have an unrelated daily job), so I miss some things.
  • Being a developer at heart, I did not appreciate enough the marketing side of the VSIP offering (my fault).
  • There were at least two years (2008 and 2009) when the videos of the annual VSIP Summit conference were publicly available after the event.
  • And Microsoft is now a much more open company than it was a decade ago, even embracing open source, so you receive much and frequent information.

So, why did I join for the “Basic” level of the VSIP program last week? It all started some weeks ago when I became fully DPI-aware. I have been fixing many DPI issues of MZ-Tools 7.0 for the next version 8.0 (to be launched with VS 2015) but there was an area that I didn’t know how to fix it: the high resolution images in toolbars, menus and context menus. I was aware that the new Visual Studio 2015 will provide high resolution images because it was stated in the release notes of CTP 3. But which would be the mechanism for extensions to provide them? This has not been documented yet in MSDN or the Visual Studio blog, so I thought that the answer would be inside the VSIP program. Specifically, I thought it would be in the videos of the VSIP Summit conference, which are no longer public since 2010. So, I registered for the basic level of the VSIP program, and I was right. The information is under Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) so I can’t publish it here, but if you register for the Basic level, and (once approved by Microsoft in 72 hours) you locate the Summit 2014 presentations (under Resources > Additional Resources, or in the August 2014 newsletter), there is one about Visual Studio extensions and high DPI displays.

So, if you are a small developer or ISV with a Visual Studio extension, to summarize and encourage you to become a VSIP partner “Basic” level for free, these are the valuable benefits that you get:

  1. Access to the private VSIP Summit presentations (PowerPoint and videos), even from the past year.
  2. The monthly newsletter.
  3. The partner directory listing (you can’t use the Visual Studio partner logo, though, that requires the Alliance level).