Essential Visual Studio 2010 Addins/Extensions

Visual Studio 2010 is extremely powerful all on it’s own. But with the Extension Manager and the Visual Studio Gallery how can you not load of VS2010 with some great extensions. Of course my list isn’t limited to the Extension Manager itself nor just free products. One of the items in the list isn’t even VS2010, but lets keep that our little secret.

As a developer in the Microsoft space I spend the vast majority of my time inside Visual Studio and even more so now that they made The SQL Management Studio also leverage the VS IDE. So it’s important that you make your development experience as fluid and comfortable as possible. Given that there are a few Addins\Extensions that I can’t live without anymore.

1.) Resharper
    I can’t develop with my little green box in the upper right of my code window. Not only does it give me background compile error checking it also gives some very useful code cleanup suggestions. I’m no ReSharper keyboard ninja and only know a few keyboard commands, but there are plenty to get your Kata on. I’ve made liberal use of searching, refactoring, extraction and code generation capabilities of ReSharper that when it’s not installed I’m a little lost.

2.) PowerCommands for Visual Studio 2010
     This is a must for anyone developing in Visual Studio. At first look the command set included is ‘meh’ until you need one, then a whole new world opens up. Undo Close saved me a few times and Format on Save keeps all my documents consistent without me having to Ctrl-K-D all the time. Open Containing Folder is my sacred cow of the command set and I found myself using it a lot.

3.) Regex Editor
     I rarely do any RegEx, but when I have to I hated it with a passion. I usually found a website where I could get RegEx help and had a way for me to test and refine my RegEx without having to go back and forth. Well now that functionality is in VS2010! If your doing any work with RegEx this is a must, with IntelliSense and testing.

4.) Spell Checker
      I recently had to do some Java development and I used the Eclipse development IDE. Eclipse has a built in spell checker that I found incredibly useful and was astounded by how many spelling mistakes were in my comments. I know I’m a bad speller but this was embarrassing. After that I searched around for one in VS2010 and found this addin. Works like a charm and keeps me embarrassed throughout the day.

5.) Solution Load Manager
      Have a large Visual Studio 2010 solution? Tired of waiting endlessly for it to load? I routinely have very large solutions, due to my flagrant misuse of the Onion pattern and separating almost everything into their separate DLL’s. As my solutions grow each project will take longer and longer to startup. So do I let VS2010 load times dictate how I architect my solutions? No! I softly whisper to myself that I don’t have a problem and got this extension.

6.) Visual Studio Tip of the Day Start Page
       I always like learning new little tips, and by gosh there is an extension for that! Every day when I open VS2010 I’m greeted with a new little tip.

7.) devColor
       If your working with Hex color this little addin draws a line under then with the color corresponding to the Hex value you typed in your code. It caught me making a mistake on my coloring that might have been hard to find otherwise.

8.) Team Foundation Server Power Tools
      If you ever had to administer a TFS server you will love this VS2010 extension. Although it only works with TFS 2010 when/if you upgrade make sure this is on your list for all your developers to install in their VS2010 environment.

Finally, not a Visual Studio addin, but something I’ve found very useful in my development lifecycle is SQL Prompt from Red-Gate. I –HATE- the IntelliSense in SQL Management Studio and SQL Prompt thankfully makes my SQL writing so much easier.

About: Shawn Jackson

I’ve spent the last 18 years in the world of Information Technology on both the IT and Development sides of the aisle. I’m currently a Software Engineer for Paylocity. In addition to working at Paylocity, I’m also the Founder of Resgrid, a cloud services company dedicated to providing logistics and management solutions to first responder organizations, volunteer and career fire departments, EMS, ambulance services, search and rescue, public safety, HAZMAT and others.

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