Microsoft Offers Bing Code Search for Visual Studio, Updates App Studio

Microsoft delivered two new capabilities for developers: a new Bing Code Search add-in for Visual Studio 2013 and an updated Windows Phone App Studio.

Microsoft recently released a new Bing Code Search Add-in for Visual Studio 2013 that makes it easier for developers to search across community Websites.

The Bing Code Search extension facilitates developers searching across several community Websites—including MSDN, StackOverflow, Dotnetperls and CSharp411—without having to switch to a browser.

In addition, it customizes the snippets it finds with the variables a developer is working with in their own code, essentially automating the process of customizing the sample code and making it ready to drop right into what the developer is working on. As a result, developers stay "in the zone" and focused on their code, improving their productivity.

Developers can download the extension for free from the Visual Studio DevLabs.

Bing Code Search works solely for C# solutions, but Microsoft is looking at ways to generalize the approach to more languages, said Ala Shiban, Microsoft's program manager for Visual Studio Editor, in a blog post on the add-in.

"Visual Studio, Bing and Microsoft Research have teamed up to deliver a DevLabs experience that takes code search to the next level," Shiban said. "When you find yourself looking for a code-sample that you could leverage for a task, you can trigger the new Bing Code Search experience directly from IntelliSense."

Shiban added that this new technology implementation "can use virtually the entire web as its source. However, we found that partnering with a few of the top web sites where some of the richest code examples live was more than sufficient in uncovering answers for many of the top user tasks, and it allows us to focus our efforts."

Microsoft also updated its Windows Phone App Studio Beta tool. Windows Phone App Studio Beta is an easy-to-use tool to help hobbyists, enthusiasts and new developers create content-based apps from end to end, all within a Web UI, said Emilio Salvador Prieto of the Windows Phone team in a blog post.

To date, 350,000 developers of all skill levels have used Windows Phone App Studio Beta, resulting in 300,000 projects and 20,000 apps published to the Windows Phone Store, Prieto said.

Microsoft released a significant update to the tool, including a redesigned UI. "We looked at the most-used actions and streamlined the workflow, so the tasks you do most often are faster and easier to execute," Prieto said. Microsoft has provided a touch-enabled UI to help support users' App Studio development work on a variety of form factors and browsers.

The update also features a rebuilt emulator, which now supports dynamic text updates, so developers can see their changes on the fly. Plus, it features image conversion from JPG to PNG, full-screen image rotation, and a more fluid integration of sections and data sources, increasing the usability of apps. In addition, the update features new templates for businesses, for building apps quickly that showcase company and product information.

Microsoft said business owners are using Windows Phone App Studio to build their own apps to connect with their customers and spread the word about their products and services.

Moreover, when hobbyists or beginner developers become comfortable with the tool and are ready to add advanced programming features, Windows Phone App Studio generates source code—a feature no other app-builder tool provides, Microsoft said. The new update provides the ability to generate a full Microsoft Visual Studio project containing both a Windows Phone and a Windows 8 version of an app, to make the app available through the Windows Store on Windows 8 and Windows Phone devices.