Visual Studio Toolbox

14 New Extensions for Visual Studio 2015

Here's a roundup of simple yet incredibly useful free extensions for Visual Studio 2015 that will keep you coding instead of fussing, and five of them are from Mads Kristensen!

It's been a while since I've done a general-purpose roundup of new Visual Studio extensions -- over a year, in fact, since "9 New Visual Studio 2013 Extensions" -- and I wasn't disappointed by the amazing variety of new, incredibly useful tools for your favorite development environment.

Please note: Almost all of these are created by your fellow developers and shared for free. Nice work, guys!

Code Helpers
Let's start out with a few new extensions that help check your code for mistakes and potential optimizations.

JSLint Check-in Policy 2015 is an updated version of Daulet Urazalinov's JavaScript linter for Visual Studio 2013. Both projects let you error check JavaScript code within Visual Studio using JSLint: The JavaScript Code Quality Tool (via James Treworgy's SharpLinter: Linting tools for Visual Studio).

The AsyncFixer extension checks your code for some common async/await coding issues such as unnecessary async methods, long-running async methods, improper use of ConfigureAwait(false) and more. You can learn a lot more about correct and incorrect async operations at the accompanying Web site, LearnAsync.NET -- A Study and Toolkit for Asynchronous Programming in C#.

AsyncFixer hasn't been updated since July 2015, but it's an open source project, so Alexander Vostres forked the code and continued working on this tool as the AsyncHelper extension. So far, Vostres has added support for "dangling" async methods and cleaned up the results for fewer false positives. If you like the direction this is heading, let him know!

Enhancing Visual Studio
Supercharger is a new extension from Michael Kiss that combines features of Kiss' previous extensions to significantly enhance code formatting and readability within Visual Studio. Supercharger includes the code visualization, persistent highlighting, bookmarking and filtering features of CodeMAP. It also includes the code formatting (fonts, bold and italics) of Editor View Enhancer and comment formatting of Comments Extender, plus additional features like super copy and more. Examples, downloads, support and ongoing development information is available from the Supercharger Web site.

Worth noting: As I'm writing this column, Supercharger is free, but Kiss does have plans to release the final version as a commercial product. If you appreciate tools like this, support him with your testing, feedback and a purchase if Supercharger turns out to be useful for your work.

The ResxHere extension does one very simple-yet-useful job: It lets you click a C# code file in Visual Studio 2015 and instantly create as many language-specific .resx files as you need for localization purposes. ResxHere lets you pre-configure how many and which languages. Just click and go!

Here's another deceptively simple but deliciously useful extension: Case Converter. Select some text in your code and the same simple key command cycles between the original formatting, snake_case, camelCase and PascalCase. Boom!

If you're using Octopus Deploy for automated ASP.NET application deployment, the Octopus Deploy Explorer extension for Visual Studio 2013 and 2015 brings deployment information right into your development environment, showing which code commits have been deployed to any of your test or production environments. Looks like a lot of interesting features are on the roadmap for Octopus Deploy Explorer, so give it a try.

NoMorePanicSave2015 is going to save you a lot of headaches if you've ever committed code in Git before saving in Visual Studio. Oooh I hate that! Set up NoMorePanicSave and Visual Studio automatically saves when you switch to the GitExtensions window.

New Tools from Mads Kristensen
Mads Kristensen is no stranger to this column, having created quite a few useful Visual Studio tools and extensions over the years.

Back in October 2014 I covered Web Essentials in my "14 Tools and Extensions for Web App Development" article. It's still an incredibly useful toolset for Web developers and Kristensen continues to work on it. In fact, for simplicity some of the functionality has been broken out into separate extensions including Bundler & Minifier for bundling and minifying JavaScript, CSS and HTML files, Web Compiler for compiling LESS, Sass, JSX, ES6 and CoffeeScript files, Image Optimizer extension (discussed in my July 2015 column, "11 Code Profiling and Performance Tools for Visual Studio"), and Web Analyzer for static analysis of JavaScript, JSX, TypeScript, CoffeeScript and CSS in your Web projects.

But let's get to some new tools from Kristensen.

JavaScript Snippet Pack is exactly what it sounds like: a package of almost 40 useful JavaScript code snippets that you can load into the Visual Studio Code Snippets Manager and automatically expand into your code by typing just a two-character shortcut. Most of the snippets cover DOM manipulation tasks, but the collection also includes console commands, function shortcuts, JSON tools, alerts and more.

Packman Package Manager is a package manager for client-side packages such as JavaScript and CSS libraries that lets you take advantage of existing global CDNs for delivering the exact packages for your application. If you're not already using a package manager or don't like Bower or npm, give Packman a try.

But wait, there's more. Dummy Text Generator is an extension by Kristensen that lets you insert a specified number of dummy-text words into a document directly within Visual Studio. And not just your classic Lorem Ipsum dummy text: The extension includes a dozen dummy text sources from Byron's "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" to Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe"... in Esperanto. A stroke of genius in this writer's humble opinion.

Next up we have the Disable Solution Explorer's Dynamic Nodes extension, which, as you might guess, provides a simple toggle to enable or disable Solution Explorer's dynamic nodes such as the inline Class View nodes. That's all it does.

The last new extension I could find from Kristensen this month -- and I'm not certain there aren't more -- is the Ionic Pack, which provides IntelliSense auto-completions and code snippets for creating Apache Cordova-based mobile applications with the Ionic Framework.

Keep up the great work, Mads!

Extensions Monitor
This is a pretty slick roundup of extensions so far. Maybe you've installed a few of them ... on top of the handy extensions already configured in your Visual Studio environment. So what are all those extensions doing behind the scenes?

Extensions Monitor is a neat little tool by Tiemen Schreuder that uses Microsoft.Diagnostics.Runtime (CLR MD) to monitor and report the CPU usage of Visual Studio extensions on your system. It's a great way to make sure those effort-saving extensions aren't actually slowing you down.

By the way, CLR MD is a neat little Microsoft project to expand the public debugging APIs beyond what is currently available through ICorDebug without forcing tool builders to rely on private APIs. Even if you don't use these APIs yourself, follow the project and you might glean some early details about the debugging capabilities likely to be included in CLR v.next.

About the Author

Terrence Dorsey is a technical writer, editor and content strategist specializing in technology and software development. Over the last 25-plus years he has worked on developer-focused projects at ESPN, The Code Project, and Microsoft. Read his blog at http://terrencedorsey.com or follow @tpdorsey on Twitter.

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