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Posted 18 Jun 2002

Template Completion in the VC++ editor

, 17 Feb 2003
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A helpful macro to simplify code typing
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The TemplateCompletion macro provides a way to expand short letter sequences (templates) to larger text blocks while you are typing text. My aim is to make this process (template completion) as simple and fast as possible.

The idea is to link simple keystroke (backslash for example) with the macro which reads the word to left of insertion point and replaces it with corresponding string. If macro does not know the word it inserts character pressed by user (backslash). This allows user (you) to type character in text.

Installation and testing

  • Unzip file into "F:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio\Common\MSDev98\Macros" folder (use the appropriate folder name according to the configuration of your computer).

  • In Visual Studio open "Tools|Customize" dialog.

  • Select "Add-ins and Macro Files" tab, turn on "TemplateCompletion" item in list.

  • Select "Keyboard" tab, set "Category" to "Macros" and "Editor" to "Text", link CompleteTemplateBackSlash command with "\" keystroke (backslash), link ToggleTemplateCompletion command with "Ctrl+\" keystroke.

  • Close "Customize" dialog.

  • Open any C or C++ source file and type in foi\ sequence, it will be expanded to
    for (i = 0; i < ; ++i) {
  • Type in "Hello world\n" sequence. No expansion, backslash is inserted in text.


You can temporarily toggle on/off template completion. The ToggleTemplateCompletion command provides this service.

You can change keystroke which invokes completion. The possible choices are "\" (backslash), "`" (back quote), "|" (bar or "Shift+\"), " " (space). My first choice was space, but then I changed my mind and now use backslash. You can also add your own CompleteTemplate* subroutine to the file TemplateCompletion.dsm to support any keystroke you want.

You can change the list of the templates. The templates are added by calls to AddTemplate subroutine. Take a look to "Module initialization" section. You can freely change set of templates. But keep the templates distinct. If two or more templates are the same, the first template will be used in expansion. The AddTemplate subroutine does not warn about duplicated templates.

And you can freely change the code of macro itself.

Additionally I want to bring your attention to "escape sequences" in template expansion. You have some control over text layout and caret position. The examples are in TemplateCompletion.dsm file.


When you undo template completion in VC editor, you need to execute several "undo" commands to remove expanded text (this is also true for "redo" command). I hope this is minor inconvenience. This behaviour also takes place when macro does not do template completion at all (when you type in, for example, backslash in text). If you try to undo your text typing, the first "undo" command deletes text after backslash, second deletes backslash itself and third deletes text before backslash.

In some configurations VC editor "paste" command breaks after installation of this macro. In that case go to;en-us;Q195009 page and apply its recommendations to msdev.exe. This helped me to make "paste" command to work. I hope this will help you also.


Feel free to e-mail me with any comments, suggestions etc.


26 June 2002 - updated download

18 Feb 2003 - updated download


This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

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About the Author

Stanislav Volodarskiy
Web Developer
Russian Federation Russian Federation
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Comments and Discussions

GeneralGREAT - but a minor problem... Pin
Michael Hansen19-Jun-02 21:51
memberMichael Hansen19-Jun-02 21:51 
This is THE one feature I have been missing the most in the Visual Studio editor, so thank you very much! Smile | :)

I have one problem though: template expansion do not take place when the position is at the start of a line, except for the very first line a document.

The problem seems to lie in the SelectWord subroutine. Here's a revised SelectWord which expands at the beginning of lines also:

private sub SelectWord(doc)
dim col ' current column

doc.Selection.WordLeft dsExtend
col = doc.Selection.CurrentColumn
doc.Selection.CharLeft dsExtend

if doc.Selection.CurrentColumn < col then
if left(doc.Selection, 1) <> "#" then
doc.Selection.CharRight dsExtend
end if
end if

' Special handlling for word selection at start of lines:
if (doc.Selection.CurrentColumn = 1) and (col = 1) then
if asc(left(doc.Selection, 1)) = 13 then
doc.Selection.CharRight dsExtend
end if
end if

end sub

Since I am not much of a VS-Macro programmer, there may very well be a simpler way to achieve this... if there is, please let me know.



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