Books: Use Hacks to Increase VS Productivity

James Avery's Visual Studio Hacks features 100 tips and techniques that you can use to make more efficient use of Visual Studio for coding and various other tasks.

Visual Studio has evolved over the years into a comprehensive tool with a level of complexity and extensibility that caters to almost any programming style and goal. It's hard to learn it all, which is why James Avery's Visual Studio Hacks is a welcome addition to any VS developer's bookshelf.

At its core are 100 "hacks" you can use to make more efficient use of VS for coding and various other tasks. Each hack consists of tips and techniques, as well as background information, to help you understand how to make best use of it. For example, hack #64 is called "Examine the Innards of Assemblies." It not only mentions intermediate language and the ildasm.exe tool in the .NET Framework—which is covered in hack #63—but it also introduces Reflector, a free tool from a Microsoft employee that lets you spelunk assemblies in many ways. Many of the hacks involve features from free third-party add-ins.

You could read the book from front to back, but I found it most useful to explore interesting topics or read random sections. Hack #46, for example, taught me that there is way more to the Command Window than I ever knew about. Many of the hacks are related, and the book is fully cross-referenced and indexed.

The book covers VS 2002, 2003, and 2005. It came out well before November's release of VS 2005, so it's based on beta versions. There are a few things that have changed, but the ones I noticed are minor. And you still have the benefit of discovering the feature even if it's a bit different in the released product. For up-to-the-minute information, the author maintains a Web site at with new hacks, including an interesting blog.

If VS is your primary tool for developing .NET applications, Visual Studio Hacks will help you find plenty of great ways here to be more productive with it.

Visual Studio Hacks: Tips & Tools for Turbocharging the IDE
by James Avery
Price: $24.95
Quick Facts: Collection of great tips and techniques for being more productive with any .NET version of VS.
Pros: Well written with contributions from many people, lots of background information, and a nugget on almost every page.
Cons: VS 2005 material is based on beta versions, but this is minor.

About the Author

Don Kiely is a senior technology consultant in Fairbanks, Alaska. When he isn't writing software, he's writing about it, speaking about it at conferences, and training developers in it. Reach him at [email protected].

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