Microsoft Delivers Visual Studio 2010 Productivity Power Tools Update

Microsoft updated its suite of productivity enhancing extensions for developers using Visual Studio 2010.

Microsoft has announced an updated version of its Visual Studio 2010 Productivity Power Tools, featuring several new features and key bug fixes and enhancements.

In a blog post describing the update, Sean Laberee, a program manager on Microsoft's Visual Studio team, said the company has provided four new extensions in this update in addition to fixing bugs and cleaning up other issues from the previous version.

"The number one feature request by far has been the ability to turn off the individual extensions in the Productivity Power Tools," Laberee said in his post. "In this release, we've added an extension which adds a category to Tools Options which allows you to toggle the extensions on/off and provides a single place to find the options for a particular extension."

In a blog post from early July, S. "Soma" Somasegar, senior vice president of Microsoft's Developer Division, described the Productivity Power Tools as "a set of tools from the Visual Studio team that offer a collection of nice features for the editor and the IDE." Somasegar went on to list some of his favorite features of the productivity tool set, including: improvements to the document well, the ability to triple-click on a line in the editor to highlight the current line of code, assignment variable alignment, fixing tabs, and the Add reference dialog.

Meanwhile, Laberee said another new extension in the updated power tools is the Solution Navigator. According to Laberee:

"Solution Navigator is a new tool window that acts like an enhanced Solution Explorer. With it, you can:

"??Ç Expand code files to navigate to its classes, expand classes to navigate to their members, and so on (C# and VB only)??Ç Search your solution, all the way down to class members??Ç Filter your solution or projects to see just opened files, unsaved files, and so on??Ç View related information about classes and members (such as references or callers/callees for C#)??Ç Preview images by hovering over them, or preview rich information by hovering over code items"

In other words, it merges functionality from Solution Explorer, Class View, Object Browser, Call Hierarchy, Navigate To, and Find Symbol References all into one tool window!"

In a separate blog post, Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president in Microsoft's Developer Division, said of Solution Navigator:

"You can use the -Solution Navigator' to browse your project just like you would with the standard "Solution Explorer" tool window today. Except instead of ending with only file sub-nodes, you can now expand them to see classes as well as individual methods and members within them. Clicking on one of the sub-nodes will navigate you immediately to the appropriate code block within the code editor."

Laberee also listed among the other key features of the updated set of extensions the Quick Access extension, which is a new tool window that allows users to search for and execute common tasks within the Visual Studio IDE. The fourth new extension is Automatic Brace Completion, which improves the productivity of writing code by automatically inserting the closing code construct when the opening construct is typed for Visual Basic and C#, he said.

Meanwhile, Laberee said, if you have the Productivity Power Tools installed already, "you will get a notification that a new version is available the next time you restart Visual Studio. Otherwise, you can visit our Visual Studio Gallery page here:"