Visual Studio IDE

VS Gøran Hansen tagged me once more, this time he want us to blog about our customization of Visual Studio IDE and third party tools we use in our daily jobs as software developers.

To be honest, I rarely customize anything. I rely on few (if any) third party tools within the IDE and just a handful of tools that runs outside of the Visual Studio IDE. My main focus is Team System and extensions f or that.

After I read Gøran’s post, I decided to start customizing and the first thing was to download and import the DistantShores Visual theme. My favorite font type is Consolas and size 15 pt.

My primary difference from some of the other people that have blogged about this, is that I always rely heavily on Visual Studio Team Foundation Server. It’s the foundation on which I do all my work. It gives me features for work items, build definitions, continuous integration, reporting, source control, unit testing, web and load testing, static code analysis, performance analysis and lots more.


For my testing needs I rely on the built in capabilities of Visual Studio Team Editions. I have a license for the Team Suite, but unit test is available in the Developer and Tester editions as well. If you happen to have a Testers or Suite Edition, you get a lot more test capabilities which is not available in Developer Edition, like manual tests, web tests, load tests, ordered tests (rarely use this).

Functional web testing is done using a third party tool called WatiN. An awesome tool that automates web browsers. You might think: “Hey wait a minute, that’s already built into Visual Studio?”. Yes and no, Visual Studio has a test type called web test, but it does nothing more than simulate HTTP requests, it doesn’t render the HTML. This means a web request using the normal Web Test doesn’t load graphics, CSS or JavaScript. It’s not possible to validate if the markup is what you except. Web Test in Team Editions can be used for load tests, not for functional tests.

As a Microsoft Regional Director I have some benefits, like free licenses for lots of software and tools. Just how Jessica Simpson, Brad Bit and Britney Spears receives free clothes, jewelry and dresses from stores, we receive deals in return for promotion and us using their products in presentations, etc.

One such deal is for mocking frameworks, which I have rarely used before. For most of my mocking needs, I implement my own mocks and I use dynamic loading of assemblies using .NET reflection and configuration files. I’m looking forward to Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) which was announced at PDC2008. This should make it quicker, simpler and more manageable to write add-in based solutions.


Some addins I’ve installed a few times but I rarely use any of these are:

  • Ctrl-Shift-B – Build Solution
  • Ctrl-Shift-X – Run Tests In Current Context (I remap the Ctrl+R,T to Ctrl-Shift-X)
  • WiX – Essential tool that I use to build all my installation packages.
  • Reflector – This was recently purchased by RedGate, but it’s a tool I’ve relied on for many years.
  • Sandcastle – Generates “MSDN” documentation from XML comments.
  • Paint.NET – image tool, use this for everything.
  • WatiN – functional web testing.
Other People’s IDE

So there you have it, nothing fancy after all… but make sure you check out some of my friends posts on how they pimp their Visual Studio IDE.

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