I often find myself using ALT+TAB to switch back and forth between Visual Studio .NET and windows containing documents that are related to the code I am designing. For example, when I am implementing a protocol, I find myself writing a few lines, switching to the document containing the protocol, switching back, writing a few lines, etc. Painful! I imagine I have wasted quite a bit of time this way.
Sometimes I have found myself wishing these documents were written as text files, so that I could open them in a panel in Studio. I have tried opening from File-->Open-->File and also using a URI (e.g. file:///C:\example.doc) in File-->Open-->File from Web Page. This doesn't work. PDF (Portable Document File) files open as text and are illegible, and others like MS Word files, open in a separate window.
I found a back door to open the file inside the context of IE.
- First you have to open a web page inside Studio. An easy way to do this is to select any code and hit 'F1'.
- While the IE panel is selected, ensure that the Web Toolbar is visible.
- In the URI textbox, enter the URI of the document and press ENTER.
Voila, the document opens inside VS.NET. I have found that using this in conjunction with Tab Groups and Full Screen mode is a great productivity boost for me. I felt obligated to share this little trick with all of you.
Someday, when I find time, I am planning on building an add-in to remove the backdoor and make this work better. I am quite busy these days and it might be a while. If anyone else would like to do so, I would definitely be interested in providing feedback.