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Top Ten Free Extensions for Visual Studio 2008

, 19 Jan 2010 CPOL
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Ten free extensions for Visual Studio 2008 you can download today and start using to save time and effort.

Title Slide


This article is part of my series on Visual Studio Extensions. Before you read it, please read the Introduction. It tells you the purpose of the series and gives you some tips on presenting my material. This article is designed to give you what you need to deliver a successful presentation. The speaker notes and demo script, along with the videos, are part of the package, and you won't learn everything from just the text of the article. My goal is to increase developer awareness of Visual Studio Extensions by making it easy for anyone to deliver a presentation on them at a user group, code camp, or the like.

Visual Studio extensions give developers a dramatic productivity boost. But because they aren't part of the product - they are extensions - many developers don't know they exist. This presentation shows just ten, all of which are free. The idea is that all the attendees will be inspired to download and start to use at least one of these. What's more, at least some attendees will take a look around the Visual Studio Gallery for more extensions. By proving that these ten exist and are useful, you prove that the Gallery is useful.

Note: this article, demos, videos, and deck are all for Visual Studio 2008. I have a Visual Studio 2010 version of the talk as well.

Presenting this Session

This is a 300 level session for people who know what extensions are. It is modular, so you can adjust it to fit your needs. If you have a favourite free extension that didn't make my top ten, go ahead and make this a top eleven, or drop one of these, just using a similar three-slide format for your favourite. If you only have an hour, consider making it a top eight.

There are really only speaker notes for the first two slides and the last one (which is a copy of slide 2). Use the individual demo scripts after that. Start to explain what the extension is while on the first slide, move to the demo slide, do the demo, then move to the third slide for the item while you wrap up that topic. Then go to the next extension. It's tempting to ignore the slides, but the attendees will be better served if they see the names rather than trying to just hear them. Even though you have URLs on the slides, many attendees will end up searching the Gallery for these extensions, and knowing their names makes that simpler, so keep the slides synced up with what you're doing.

I've recorded each section one at a time - both the slides and the demo part. Notice they are not all the same length. As recorded (and with no errors or pausing or flailing), they add up to 60 minutes for the ten extensions. Since this doesn't include introducing yourself, the first two slides, any Q&A, or the wrap-up, you can see a 60 minute talk will not accommodate all this content. (When you're rehearsing, it may help you to know that for each of these demos, my time typically got about 2 minutes shorter by the time I had done it three or four times.) You need to have a strong knowledge of your timing. If each rehearsal is a wildly different length for you, rearrange the demos so that the "accordion" ones are towards the end. You can glance at the clock and decide not to show all that an extension can do. That's why I've already put Style Cop at the very end. You could stop that demo at the first "error" and not cover showing the help, suppressing a rule, and so on. You can move other "compressible" extensions later in the talk to help you if you are worried you will go over time, or move expandable ones (that you're familiar with and could demo on the fly) later in the talk if you are worried you will be short.

Snippet Designer

Watch the Snippet Designer demo video.

WPF Theme Selector

Watch the Theme Selector demo video.

Power Commands

Watch the Power Commands demo video.

Source Code Outliner

Watch the Source Code Outliner demo video.

Sticky Notes

Watch the Sticky Notes demo video.

Regular Expression Explorer

Watch the Regular Expression Explorer demo video.

TFS Power Tools

Watch the TFS Power Tools demo video.

Resource Refactoring

Watch the Resource Refactoring demo video.

Debugger Settings

Watch the Debugger Settings demo video.

Style Cop

Watch the Style Cop demo video.

The Takeaway

This is a very appealing talk for a user group or code camp because it provides immediate and simple action for the attendee. If they liked a particular extension that you've shown them, the minute they are online, they can download it, install it, and start using it. It's almost effortless. What's more, because the extensions are small and are aimed at one problem, they know right away if they care about that extension or not. There are no concepts to grasp or "further reading" to take them past a typical Hello World demo. You've shown them something that can make them more productive or less frustrated, and if they agree, they're going to go and get it and start using it. They don't have to love all ten to be grateful they came to hear you talk.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


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Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 1 Pin
Spod Letela4-Apr-10 1:37
memberSpod Letela4-Apr-10 1:37 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pin
Andi Fandrich20-Jan-10 22:26
memberAndi Fandrich20-Jan-10 22:26 
GeneralTip on Tips Pin
aspdotnetdev20-Jan-10 13:59
memberaspdotnetdev20-Jan-10 13:59 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pin
delyk20-Jan-10 7:54
memberdelyk20-Jan-10 7:54 
GeneralAlso nice one Pin
Cuchuk Sergey20-Jan-10 2:32
memberCuchuk Sergey20-Jan-10 2:32 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pin
Pavel Vladov20-Jan-10 0:02
memberPavel Vladov20-Jan-10 0:02 
GeneralSaved Me So Much Time! Pin
aspdotnetdev19-Jan-10 18:18
memberaspdotnetdev19-Jan-10 18:18 
GeneralThis cannot deserve less than 5 Pin
Ant21006-Jan-10 10:12
memberAnt21006-Jan-10 10:12 
GeneralRe: This cannot deserve less than 5 Pin
delyk20-Jan-10 7:53
memberdelyk20-Jan-10 7:53 
RE: It is one of the most useful articles I have ever read

There is very little in the article to actually read, its all video links...
GeneralRe: This cannot deserve less than 5 Pin
Ant210020-Jan-10 8:40
memberAnt210020-Jan-10 8:40 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pin
Tiefeng You6-Jan-10 7:06
memberTiefeng You6-Jan-10 7:06 
GeneralAnd I think it's worth more than 1 too! Pin
RV Williams6-Jan-10 3:45
memberRV Williams6-Jan-10 3:45 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pin
trevorde stickman5-Jan-10 23:17
membertrevorde stickman5-Jan-10 23:17 
GeneralRe: My vote of 1 Pin
Ant21006-Jan-10 10:13
memberAnt21006-Jan-10 10:13 
GeneralMy vote of ONE... Pin
jkruza5-Jan-10 22:12
memberjkruza5-Jan-10 22:12 
GeneralA little suggestion. Pin
Allen Dang5-Jan-10 16:11
memberAllen Dang5-Jan-10 16:11 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Nishant Sivakumar5-Jan-10 12:54
sitebuilderNishant Sivakumar5-Jan-10 12:54 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pin
MicroImaging1-Jan-10 16:27
memberMicroImaging1-Jan-10 16:27 
GeneralRe: My vote of 1 Pin
KateGregory5-Jan-10 11:40
memberKateGregory5-Jan-10 11:40 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pin
Michael Sync27-Dec-09 19:50
memberMichael Sync27-Dec-09 19:50 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pin
JohnDoe1234567818-Oct-09 6:58
memberJohnDoe1234567818-Oct-09 6:58 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pin
sytelus14-Oct-09 16:49
membersytelus14-Oct-09 16:49 
GeneralYou forgot! Pin
Kaveh Shahbazian11-Oct-09 3:18
memberKaveh Shahbazian11-Oct-09 3:18 
GeneralThanks for the great tips Pin
Member 16447367-Oct-09 16:38
memberMember 16447367-Oct-09 16:38 
GeneralNice article Pin
Predrag Tomasevic6-Oct-09 16:48
memberPredrag Tomasevic6-Oct-09 16:48 
GeneralGreat! Pin
Jean-Paul Mikkers6-Oct-09 13:51
memberJean-Paul Mikkers6-Oct-09 13:51 
GeneralDPack Pin
Simon Capewell6-Oct-09 12:41
memberSimon Capewell6-Oct-09 12:41 
GeneralVideos not working Pin
tonyt6-Oct-09 9:46
membertonyt6-Oct-09 9:46 
GeneralRe: Videos not working Pin
KateGregory6-Oct-09 10:01
memberKateGregory6-Oct-09 10:01 
GeneralRe: Videos not working Pin
tonyt6-Oct-09 10:07
membertonyt6-Oct-09 10:07 
GeneralRe: Videos not working Pin
Rui Holdorf13-Oct-09 5:01
memberRui Holdorf13-Oct-09 5:01 
GeneralRe: Videos not working Pin
KateGregory5-Jan-10 11:39
memberKateGregory5-Jan-10 11:39 
GeneralRe: Videos not working Pin
jkruza5-Jan-10 22:02
memberjkruza5-Jan-10 22:02 

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