Visual Studio Toolbox
Top Free Extensions for Visual Studio 2022
With Visual Studio 2022 having debuted just one month ago, there are now dozens of new extensions available specifically targeting the revolutionary 64-bit IDE.
Out of 35 extensions described as being "for Visual Studio 2022" in the Visual Studio Marketplace, 31 are free, three come with free trials, and only one is "paid" only.
Since we're cheap, here's a quick look at the top five free tools, ranked by the number of installations:
SonarLint for Visual Studio 2022
As its name bespeaks, this is a linting tool, coming from SonarSource. It leads the "free" pack with 11,679 installs as of this writing.
"SonarLint is a Free and Open Source IDE extension that identifies and helps you fix Code Quality and Code Security issues as you code," the item's description reads. "Analogous to a spell checker, SonarLint squiggles flaws and provides real-time feedback and clear remediation guidance so you can deliver clean code from the get-go."
It provides the following features that the company claims make it more than your average linting tool:
- C and C++ support for Application, Dynamic Library and Static Library types of MSBuild (.vcxproj) projects
- Deep code analysis algorithms using pattern matching and dataflow analysis
- Hundreds of language-specific static code analysis rules, and growing
- In-context help and remediation guidance with detailed examples
- Highlights issues in your code, tells you why they are harmful, and how they should be fixed
Note that with VS 2022 being only a month old, some of the associated material around the extension hasn't yet been updated. For example, the screenshot above shows the tool targets VS 2022 Release Candidate 2. Also, the marketplace item links to the project's GitHub repo, which as of this writing still says: "SonarLint is a Visual Studio 2015, 2017 and 2019 extension ...."
Three reviewers awarded it a score of 3 on a 0-5 scale. All three reported problems with using the tool in VS 2022, and SonarSource responded to all three, creating trouble tickets and promising further investigation.
SpecFlow for Visual Studio 2022
Coming from SpecFlow Team, this is a targeted tool with specific functionality: work with SpecFlow projects and Gherkin (programming language) feature files. SpecFlow, from Tricentis, is described a free and open source Behavior Driven Development (BDD) framework for enhancing automated tests on .NET.
And here's how Tricentis describes BDD:
Behavior-driven development is a testing practice that follows the idea of specification by example (e.g., Test-Driven Development [TDD]). The idea is to describe how the application should behave in a very simple user/business-focused language. BDD's business-focused perspective on application behavior allows teams to create living documentation that is easy to maintain and can be consumed by all team members, including testers, developers, and product owners.
"SpecFlow bridges the communication gap between domain experts and developers by binding business readable behavior specifications and examples to the underlying implementation," says the marketplace item's description. "Our mission is to provide a pragmatic and frictionless approach to Specification-By-Example for .NET projects. SpecFlow is open source and provided under a BSD license."
The tool's GitHub repo explains it works with all three VS 2022 editions and also the old .NET Framework (with earlier versions of SpecFlow) as well as .NET Core, which became just .NET 5, .NET 6 and so on.
Note that, as with SonarLint above, some of the extension's associated material hasn't been updated. While the installation documentation now includes VS 2022-specific guidance, the included video features VS 2019. That's a minor point, as the functionality is probably the same, but it serves as a reminder that some documentation and supporting material for your favorite tools may not have been updated yet.
At this time, only two reviewers have graded the tool, both awarding a perfect 5 score. "I've been using specflow for VS 2017 and VS 2019. Great to see it come to VS2022 in the preview. Works a treat," said one. The extension has been installed 5,807 times as of this writing.
VisualSVN for Visual Studio 2022
Note that while this extension from VisualSVN Software is free under a Community License, that license allows use only on computers that are not part of an Active Directory domain. "Community License permits commercial use and is ideal for freelancers, students and hobbyists," says the marketplace description.
As far as functionality, the tool integrates into Visual Studio the Subversion version control system, which is used to track changes made to projects -- files and folders -- in order to facilitate the recovery of data while also tracking the history of changes that have been made over time.
Specifically, its description says "VisualSVN is a Visual Studio plug-in that integrates Subversion (SVN) and TortoiseSVN seamlessly with Visual Studio. VisualSVN virtually eliminates the management of your project source code files within Subversion. Program, design, debug and deploy with VisualSVN as your silent partner that safeguards your source code."
Unique features are said to include:
- Quick Diff marks changes visually within Visual Studio using color coding. You can see the changes in your source file from the repository version at a glance. There is fast navigation available to move to the next changed section. You never have to open a separate “diff” window to see what you have changed. And you don't have to hunt for changes.
- Quick Revert uses the Quick Diff color coding to allow you to easily restore changes that have been made from the repository version. Just select the changes that are displayed by Quick Diff and perform “Revert Selection”. Quick Revert is fully integrated with the Visual Studio Undo/Redo stack.
- Track and manage all changes made to your source file by using the unique visual assists that are provided by VisualSVN. You are free to use external applications and you will always see exactly what has changed. Never make a “dirty commit” again.
- Seamless integration with built-in and third-party refactoring tools such as ReSharper. Source code changes and file operations such as renaming are handled for you and are reflected transparently to Subversion by VisualSVN. Even changes in more complex objects such as forms and ASPX pages are handled transparently by VisualSVN and are accurately reflected to Subversion.
- Handy VisualSVN toolbar provides clean, direct access to the most important commands and features of Subversion. We even provide a combo box containing the URL of the current Subversion branch, and you can use it to quickly change between branches.
The extension, which has been installed 5,760 times and was last updated yesterday, has so far been reviewed by only one developer, who awarded it a perfect 5 score and commented: "Thanks for VS2022 support! Just installed on VS 2022pro Preview4 and basic functions seems to work. Now I can start using/testing VS2022 full time!"
.NET MAUI Project and Item Templates
Published by Vijay Anand E G, this extension is still in the preview stage, with no reviews/ratings yet, though it has been installed 5,206 times. It offers .NET MAUI project and item templates, along with code snippets for VS 2022.
.NET MAUI, as regular readers of Visual Studio Magazine know, is the new Xamarin.Forms, described as an "evolution" of Microsoft's traditional mobile development framework because it adds support for creating desktop apps as well as iOS and Android apps. Standing for .NET Multi-platform App UI, it was supposed to ship with .NET 6 and Visual Studio 2022 last month, but slipped the schedule.
Project templates coming with the extension include:
- .NET MAUI App (Preview 10)
- .NET MAUI App (C#) (Preview 10)
- .NET MAUI Blazor App (Preview 10)
- .NET MAUI Class Library (Preview 10)
A variety of Item templates, meanwhile, range from Content Pages and Views for .NET MAUI and C# to a Resource Directory, Shell Page and more.
Publisher Vijay Anand E G also pens a Developer Thoughts blog focusing on .NET MAUI, where the most recent post is a multi-part examination of .NET MAUI and Blazor.
Qt Visual Studio Tools
"Qt Visual Studio Tools integrate the Qt development tools into Microsoft Visual Studio 2022. This enables developers to use the standard Windows development environment without having to worry about Qt-related build steps or tools," says the marketplace description.
The extension comes from The Qt Company, known for its widgets used to great GUIs and cross-platform capabilities, running on major desktop and mobile OSes including embedded. Qt is written in C++ and supports the GCC C++ compiler, although it also supports others, including Visual Studio and PHP, Wikipedia says.
Even though the company has its own IDE, it offers extensions for Visual Studio versions going all the way back to VS 2013, along with VS 2022.
The extension's main features are listed as:
- Wizards for creating new Qt projects and classes.
- Automated build setup for the Meta-Object Compiler (moc) , User Interface Compiler (uic) , and Resource Compiler (rcc).
- Import and export of Qt project files (.pro) and project include files (.pri).
- Automated conversion of a Qt VS Tools project to a qmake project, or the other way around.
- Integrated Qt resource management.
- Integrated Qt documentation.
- Debugging extensions for Qt data types.
It comes with a detailed Qt VS Tools Manual that covers installation, designing the Main Window, adding widgets, dialogs, working with the List Widget and more.
The tool has been installed 4,889 times, with no reviewers.
While the five extensions described above constitute some of the most popular free tools, the very most popular is a product that comes with a free trial: Arduino IDE for Visual Studio 2022 from Visual Micro, which has been installed a whopping 832,094 times and been reviewed by 361 developers. However, its marketplace description says it was released in 2015, so the "for Visual Studio 2022" designation probably doesn't mean much.
The other extensions with free trials are:
Meanwhile, the only "paid" item among the marketplace offerings marked "for Visual Studio 2022" is Wallaby.js for Visual Studio 2022, with 56 installs and no reviews. There are also some 67 tools in total whose descriptions at least mention Visual Studio 2022, so they work with the IDE, including many themes.
Stay tuned for more updates on the best tools to work with Visual Studio 2022 as the IDE matures.