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Visual Studio.NET: Tips,
Tricks, & Toys
by Kevin Grossnicklaus
General Tips
Code Editor Tricks
Layout and Navigation
Advanced Design-Time Tips
Debugging Tips
VS.NET Plug-Ins
External Development Tools
Additional Resources
• Kevin Grossnicklaus
– ArchitectNow- www.ArchitectNow.net (2009-Present)
• President
– Washington University - CAIT Program (2003-Present)
• Instructor
– SSE - www.SSEinc.com (1999-2009)
• Chief Architect
• Software Development Practice Leader
• Email: [email protected]
• Twitter: @kvgros
What are we going to cover?
Why is this something I should be aware of?
Who can use this stuff?
How detailed are we going to get?
Managing Shortcuts
• Keyboard vs. Mouse
• Verify your current environment settings
– This talk assumes “General Development”
• Manage keyboard shortcuts here:
– Tools->Options->Environment->Keyboard
• All settings (including shortcuts) can be imported
and/or exported from:
– Tools->Import and Export Settings
Keyboard Shortcuts
• Standard Shortcuts:
– Ctl-K
– Ctl-Shift-O
• “Chords” = Two character shortcuts
– Written as:
• Ctl-K,D or Ctl-K, Ctl-D
Shortcut Reference Posters
• Visual Studio 2010 Keybinding Posters
– http://www.microsoft.com/enus/download/details.aspx?id=13189
Top Level Shortcuts
Ctl-Shift-N = New Project
Alt-Shift-N = New Website
Ctl-Shift-O = Open Project
Alt-Shift-O = Open Website
Ctl-Shift-A = Add New Item
Alt-Shift-A = Add Existing Item
• Copy or Cut = Ctl-C or Ctl-X (respectively)
– If no selection, cuts or copies the current line to the
– If there is a selection, cuts or copies the selection to
the clipboard
• Tools->Options->Text Editor->All Languages->General
• Uncheck the “Apply Cut or Copy Commands to Blank Lines
When There is No Selection” option
• Current Line
– Ctl-L to cut the current line to the clipboard
(including EoL)
– Ctl-Shift-L to delete the current line
Cut/Copy/Paste (Cont.)
• Paste = Ctl-V
– Pastes the last item cut or copied into the editor at
the current cursor location
• Clipboard “Ring” = Ctl-Shift-V
– Cycles through the previous 20 items cut to the
clipboard and pastes them at the current cursor
– Accidentally cut or copy something you didn’t mean
• Cycle through pasting until you get to the item you
Misc Selection/Insertion Commands
• Ctl-Enter to insert a blank line above
current line
• Ctl-Shift-Enter to insert a blank line
below current line
• Ctl-W to select current word
• Ctl-Delete to delete next word
• Ctl-Backspace to delete previous word
Drag/Drop Code
• Selections of code can be dragged around a
code file or to different files
– Hold Shift to “Copy”
• Code can be dragged onto the Toolbox dockwindow in the “General” section and then
dragged back onto other editors
– These can be renamed to be more readable
– This is a handy way to reuse sections of code
Weird Editor Shortcuts
Ctl-T to transpose a character
Ctl-Shift-T to transpose a word
Alt-Shift-T to transpose a line
Ctl-U to make current selection or character
• Ctl-Shift-U to make current selection or
character uppercase
• Ctl-Z to Undo
• Ctl-Y to Redo
• Use the dropdowns for more granular control
and information
• Use the scroll bars or mouse wheel
• Press mouse wheel to allow for 4-way
“Go-Back” Markers and Navigation
What is a “Go-Back” marker?
Ctl-Minus to navigate backwards
Ctl-Shift-Minus to navigate forwards
Optionally use the toolbar buttons and
dropdown boxes for more info
Navigation Bar
• What is the navigation bar?
• Ctl-F2 to select the navigation bar
• Tab or Shift-Tab to switch between combo
boxes once selected
• Arrow keys to navigate down and enter to select
• To enable/disable per language:
– Tools->Options->Text Editor->All languages (or specific
– Set the “Navigation Bar” option
Splitting Editor Windows
Window->Split to split
Window->Remove Split to remove
Splitter can be resized via mouse
F6 to switch between split panes
Line Numbers
• Enable line numbers here:
– Tools->Options->Text Editor->All languages (or
specific language)->General
– Check “Line Numbers”
Track Changes
 Tools->Options->Text Editor->General
 Check “Track Changes”
 What does this do?
 Yellow – Lines were edited since last save.
 Green – Lines were edited prior to last save.
 Yellow becomes Green after one save, close and re-open a
file and Green is gone
Code Selection
• Click and drag to select code via the common
“stream” mode
• Hold Alt-Shift and click and drag to select
in “box” mode
• Shift-Arrow Keys to manually select
code in “stream” mode
• Alt-Shift-Arrow Keys to manually
select in “box” mode
• What does code formatting do?
• Where can I adjust the settings?
– Tools->Options->Text Editor->(Language)>Formatting
• Ctl-K,D to format the current document
• Ctl-K,F to format the current selection
Ctl-M,M to toggle outlining around cursor
Ctl-M,L to toggle all outlining in current file
Ctl-M,P to turn off outlining
Edit->Outlining->Start Automatic Outlining to
turn back on
• Ctl-M,O to collapse to definitions
• Selecting a collapsed definition allows you to
cut and paste it as a whole
Remove Unused Usings
• Right click in editor and select:
– Organize Usings->Remove Unused Usings
• Ctl-K,K to toggle bookmarks on current
• Ctl-K,N to go to the next bookmark
• Ctl-K,P to go to the previous bookmark
• Ctl-K,L to clear all bookmarks
• Ctl-K,W to view the bookmarks window
• Organizing Bookmarks
• Handy Shortcuts:
– Ctl-K,C = Comment Block
– Ctl-K,U = Uncomment Block
• XML Comments
• Task List Comments
– //TODO
– //HACK
• Ctl-J to invoke statement completion (i.e.
bring up Intellisense)
• Ctl-Space or Alt-Right Arrow for
statement completion
• Ctl-Period to drop down a Smart-Tag
– Enter to select the first item
• Resolve Context Menu
Code Snippets
• Ctl-K,X to bring up Code Snippet menu
– Type-ahead supported
– Or enter the snippet shortcut keyword and press
• Ctl-K,S to insert a code snippet around a
selected block of code
• Tab and Shift-Tab to switch between
• Ctl-K,B to bring up the Code Snippet
• Ctl-R,R to rename current item
• Ctl-R,M to extract the currently selected code
into a new method
• Ctl-R,E to encapsulate field into a property
• Ctl-R,I to extract interface from current class
• Ctl-R,P to promote selected local variable to a
• Ctl-R,V to remove parameters
• Ctl-R,O to reorder parameters
Call Hierarchy Window
• To display: Ctl-K,T
• Nice navigation between calling methods and
methods called from the current method
Searching - 1
• Incremental Search
– Ctl-I
– Start typing
– Ctl-I again to jump to next occurrence
• Current Word Search
– Ctl-F3 to search for the currently selected word
– Ctl-Shift-F3 to search for the current word looking
• Quick Find
– Ctl-F to bring up Quick Find with current word as the
– Use Regular Expressions
Searching - 2
• Quick Replace
– Ctl-H brings up the Quick Replace window with
the current word as the default
• Find Symbol
– Alt-F12 brings up the Find Symbol dialog
– Shift-Alt-F12 searches for the current word
using the Find Symbol functionality but skips the
Searching - 3
• Find in Files
– Ctl-Shift-F opens the Find in File dialog
• Replace in Files
– Ctl-Shift-H opens the Replace in Files dialog
• Find in Files options
Document Windows
• Document Windows = Tabbed Documents
• Ctl-Alt-Down Arrow to drop down file tab
• Tab Context Menu
– Close All But This
– Copy Full Path
– Open Containing Folder
• Tab Groups
– Horizontal or Vertical
• Windows Menu
Document Navigation
• Ctl-Tab to display the IDE navigator
– Ctl-Tab again to scroll through open documents
– Ctl-Shift-Tab to scroll in reverse
– Arrow keys or mouse to select a document or dockwindow
• Ctl-F6 and Ctl-Shift-F6 to jump between
currently open documents without using the IDE
navigator (forwards and backwards)
• Ctl-F4 to close the current document
Dock/Tool Windows
• Docking Targets
• Five “States”
• Alt-F7 and Alt-Shift-F7 to scroll (forwards or
backwards) through all opened tool windows using the IDE
• Alt-F6 and Alt-Shift-F6 to scroll (forwards or
backwards) through all opened tool windows without the
Dock/Tool Windows (Cont.)
• Tool windows that are hidden can be shown
via their shortcut key or most are found under
one of the following menu locations:
– View
– View->Other Windows
– Debug->Windows
Window Layouts
• Four Layouts:
– Design View
– Full Screen
– Debugging View
– File View
• Shift-Alt-Enter to toggle between Full
Screen mode and Design View
Drag and drop customization
Visible based on current context
Right click to display any toolbar at any time
Customization dialog
– “Show Shortcut Keys in Screen Tips”
– Full customization of all toolbars while this dialog
is visible
Context Menu Customization
• Complete editing of any context menus
• Tools->Customize
• Select Toolbars tab
• Check “Context Menus”
Quick Launch
• In Title Bar
• Ctl-Q to place cursor
Command Window
• Ctl-Alt-A to open the command window
• Enter a > to run any VS command from the
command prompt
– Full Intellisense for commands, arguments, and
even file paths
– Command aliasing
• ? = Debug.Print
• Enter “alias” by itself to see current aliases
Task Window
• Custom Tasks
• Task Shortcuts
• Comment Tasks
External Tools
• How to add external tools?
– Redirecting console output to Output Window
– Passing arguments
Code Definition Window
• Ctl-\,D to show the Code Definition Window
• This window is a read-only source view of any
symbol currently selected in the live editor.
– Code can be copied from this window
– Breakpoints can be set
Common Shortcuts
F5 to start debugging
Ctl-F5 to start without debugging
F11 to step into the current line
F10 to step over the current line
Shift-F5 to stop debugging
• F9 to toggle a breakpoint
– Or, simply click in the left border of the code
• Ctl-Shift-F9 to delete all breakpoints
• Ctl-B to show Break at Function dialog
Breakpoints - Advanced
• Breakpoint Context Menu
– Location
– Condition
– Hit Count
– Filter
– When Hit
Next Statement Manipulation
• Yellow arrow = “NEXT” statement to execute
• Can be dragged to new location
– Within Limits
– Be careful
Debugging Threads
• Ctl-Alt-H brings up the Threads tool
• At breakpoints all threads break together
• Threads can be frozen/thawed from the
Threads tool window
– This keeps them paused when execution
• Threads toolbar also exposes functionality
Break On All Exceptions
• Ctl-Alt-E to bring up Exceptions dialog
• It is common to break when a CLR exception is
– This will break even when the exception is caught
by a try/catch block
Variables Windows
• They Are:
– Locals (Ctl-Alt-V,L)
– Autos (Ctl-Alt-V,A)
– Watch (Ctl-Alt-W,1-4)
– Quick Watch (Ctl-Alt-Q)
• All have similar functionality
– All display values of variables and allow for inplace editing
• Provides access to debugging visualizers
Runtime Variable Tooltips
• Provides ability to view all of an objects
properties and manipulate the values directly
in the tooltip
• Provides access to debugging visualizers
Debugging Visualizers
• Special user interfaces used to view the values of
specific data types in variable windows or
runtime tooltips
• Noted by the magnifying glass icon near the value
– Click to open visualizer
• Notable visualizers:
Immediate Window
• Ctl-Alt-I to bring up the Immediate Window
• The immediate window can be used to execute
statements and evaluate expressions in the
context of the current statement
– Access to any variable in scope is granted
– Can assign values to variables, read values, execute
methods, etc
• Use the “>” character to allow entry and use of
any VS commands (as in the Command window)
• Command window has much of the same
Son of Strike (SoS)
• SoS is a debugger extension that is loaded with
VS.NET and available from within the IDE from
the Immediate Window
• To load SoS:
– Edit your project properties and, under the Debug tab,
check the “Enable Unmanaged Code Debugging”
– Open the Immediate Window and enter:
• .load sos
– For help, enter:
• !help
Debugging The BCL
• Microsoft has made many of the debug
symbols for the Base Class Libraries available
for public use
– What does this mean?
– Does this mean .NET is open source?
Debugging into the BCL
• How can I hook this up?
– Options->Debugging->General
– CHECK “Enable .NET Framework Source Stepping”
• Loading Symbols
– From the Modules window or the Call Stack, right
click on a BCL DLL and select “Load Symbols”
Extension Manager
• Extensions and Updates
• Common Ones I Use:
– Microsoft Web Developer Tools
– NuGet Package Manager
– Productivity Power Tools 2012
– VSCommands for Visual Studio 2012
– Web Essentials 2012
Kevin Grossnicklaus
800.362.3919 x 101
[email protected]
http://architectnow.net or @kvgros
Thank you for coming!