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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 
I've only watched your StyleCop video so far, and it will soon have saved me hours of work! I started using StyleCop the other day and I had been excluding rules by applying them as class attributes, but thanks to your video I now know I can just exclude the rules (that I would otherwise exclude manually) by changing the project StyleCop settings. This will cut way down on my work. Thanks!

I assume the rest of your videos are of the same quality as the StyleCop video, and for that you get my 5. Smile | :)

Don't listen to the 1-voters who seems to be stuck on a certain way of doing things. I hope other authors adopt the techniques you've employed in this article. Keep up the great work. Thumbs Up | :thumbsup:

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 
GeneralRe: This cannot deserve less than 5 Pin
Ant210020-Jan-10 8:40
memberAnt210020-Jan-10 8:40 

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