Customize the VB IDE: Sidebar 1: Tweak the VB IDE

Visual Studio provides many options you can change. The settings you imported or chose the first time you started Visual Studio: Visual Basic Developer, dictate the default values for these options. I recommend you change or ensure the correct setting on a handful of the options to ensure you get the most out of Visual Studio. The steps to implement these features are simple enough. Begin by selecting Options from the Tools menu, making sure you check the "Show all settings" box, and then apply five changes to your settings:

1.Environment. General. Turn off "Animate environment tools." It just slows down the IDE and has been known to cause problems with how it hides and shows windows.

2. Environment. Documents. Turn on "Show Miscellaneous files in solution Explorer" and set the number of documents to 10. If you ever need to increase the number, you can do so when you encounter that situation. Typically, I find myself only using three or four documents that have been opened through a search.

3. Project and Solutions. General. I recommend checking all these settings except for the "Save new projects when created" option. Most importantly, be sure that "Show advanced build configurations" is selected because this enables the build combo in the toolbar. "Prompt for symbolic renaming when renaming files" is another good option to enable. If you rename a file and the class in it is the same as the file name, you will be prompted to rename the class name to match the file name.

4. Project and Solutions. VB Defaults. Make sure that defaults for new VB projects are Option Strict is On, Option Explicit is On, and Option Compare is Binary. The default is for Option Strict to be Off, which can cause havoc on the unsuspecting.

5. Text Editor. Basic. Tabs. Select "Smart" for indenting and the IDE will perform most normal indenting for you. One thing to be aware of is that you should also select "Insert spaces" rather than "Keep tabs" because the VB IDE doesn't let you align continued lines properly if you have "Keep tabs" selected.

Those are the main settings you should check and modify if needed. Be sure to explore the other settings, especially those in the Debugging category when you have some spare time.

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