Visual Studio 2010 : Managing Extensions with the Extension Manager, Managing Add-Ins with the Add-In Manager

7/30/2012 5:46:31 PM
Visual Studio 2010 has a new integrated tool for easily managing installed extensions and for finding online extensions that can be easily installed from the Internet. To enter this tool, simply select the Tools, Extension Manager command. Figure 1 shows how the Extension Manager appears.
Figure 1. The new Extension Manager tool.

The Extension Manager can be used for finding, downloading, and installing extensions to Visual Studio 2010. If you select the Online Gallery option on the left, the tool shows all available extensions in the Visual Studio Gallery, an online website from Microsoft specific for Visual Studio extensions (reachable at http://visualstudiogallery.com and that you should visit to get a complete overview of extensions and possibly the source code where available). The tool simply shows the list of available extensions, providing a brief description on the right side of the dialog. You simply click Download to download and install the desired extension. Each time you install an extension, Visual Studio needs to be restarted to correctly recognize such additions. As you can see, extensions can be of three categories: Controls, Templates (including project and item templates), and Tools. Each category is divided into subcategories, explaining what the extension is bound to. Basically the Extension Manager can find only VSIX packages, meaning that add-ins and code snippets are not supported and need to be handled differently. You can also search through on-line additions using the search box in the upper right of the dialog. Also, you can easily manage installed additions. Simply click Installed Extensions to get the full list of available extensions on your system, as shown in Figure 2, that lists extensions available on my development machine.

Figure 2. Managing installed extensions.

Here you can simply disable an extension, keeping it installed on the machine and available for future reuse, or completely uninstall. The tool can also find updates for installed extensions. This can be accomplished by selecting the Updates command on the left side.

Managing Add-Ins with the Add-In Manager

Visual Studio 2010 enables enhancing the environment with add-ins. An add-in basically extends an existing functionality. You can manage installed add-ins via the Add-in Manager tool, which was already available in previous versions. You enter the tool by selecting Tools, Add-In Manager. Figure 3 shows how the tool looks when some add-ins are installed.

Figure 3. The Add-in Manager.

Each add-in you can specify must be loaded at the IDE startup or if it has command-line support. Because building custom add-ins is something that was already available in previous versions of the IDE, this topic is not covered here, so refer to the official MSDN page at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/80493a3w(VS.100).aspx.

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