Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 IDE Enhancements

Today I found this new set of addins for VS 2k5 thanks to a post by Greg Duncan.  According to the official Microsoft download page, these “…are a set of Visual Studio extensions provides tools to effectively use Visual Studio resources.”  To tell you the truth, I’m really not sure what the hell this is supposed to mean so, as a public service, I’m going to translate that for you. 

Visual Studio 2005 IDE Enhancements are addins that provide new functionality that developers can use to increase the capabilities of the development environment.

I can hear you saying “Enough of that already.  Tell me what the hell it is.”  Okay, fine.


Source Code Outliner : The Source Outliner tool is a Visual Studio extension that provides a tree view of your source code’s types and members and lets you quickly navigate to them inside the editor.

Visual C++ Code Snippets:The Visual C++ Code Snippets tool lets you insert snippets in your code by using a pop-up menu that contains programming keywords. VB.NET and C# languages have this functionality in Visual Studio 2005.

Indexed Find : The Indexed Find tool is a Visual Studio extension that uses the Microsoft Indexing Service to provide improved Search capabilities to the integrated development environment (IDE). It sends the results of a search to the Output Window.

Super Diff Utility: The Super Diff Find tool is a Visual Studio extension that compares text files. It uses color coding and graphics to show the difference between the files in deleted text (red), changed text (blue), inserted text (green).

Event Toaster Utility: The Event Toaster tool is a Visual Studio extension that notifies users about specific events within the Visual Studio IDE.


I installed the download and worked with it all day today.  First let’s say that I didn’t see the VC++ Code Snippets, but I’m going to assume that they work like the other Code Snippet functionality in VS and that is cool.

Source Code Outliner is a great little tool.  I had it sitting as a tab in my right side docked windows (Project Explorer, Class Explorer, etc.) and it saved me a bunch of time searching for things.  When you open a piece of code, you get a refreshed view of the currently displayed class in the Outliner.  You can filter the Outliner so it only shows Properties or Methods or Private Variables or…or…or…the list is quite long, but it’s great.  It’s quite responsive to changes in the code, but it does tend to flicker when it is updating, which I found to be distracting.  Overall, great tool.

Indexed Find is another way to search in your code.  You already have Ctrl+F (Find) and Ctrl+Shift+F (Find In Files) and I really couldn’t see what it added to my already extensive searching capabilities.  If anything, I find the Ctrl+N (Type By Name) shortcut in ReSharper to be much more useful.

Super Diff Utility is quite aptly named.  It integrates very nicely in the IDE for things like listing open files in dropdowns on the search selection screen, but it doesn’t have a shortcut key.  Once you do get it open there are some amazing configuration choices in it.  I was very impressed with this tool.  It will now be my default comparison utility when I’m in the IDE.

The Event Toaster Utility simply baffled me.  First, the explanation of what it does on Microsoft’s site is not overly descriptive.  Please tell me what “…specific events within the Visual Studio IDE” trigger the toaster.  I need to know since nothing I did today made it launch a piece of toast.  Instead all I got was a nice little toaster icon in my system tray for the duration of my development effort.

Overall, this is a nice little set of tools.  Definitely download it and take them all for a test drive.  If you figure out how to launch a piece of toast, let me know.