Monday, June 1, 2009

Visual Studio 2010 Editor

One of the biggest changes in Visual Studio 2010 is the text editor. When you first fire it up you will definitely notice a lot of small visual changes to it but the biggest changes are under the hood. The editor has been re-written in C# using WPF for the presentation layer, and Microsoft’s new Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) to make the editor much more extensible.

Here are a couple of the nice new features found in the editor. Visual Studio has always had the little plus and minus boxes on the left side of the editor which allows you to expand and collapse blocks of code. In VS 2010 there is an addition to this. If you hover over one of the minus boxes VS will highlight all the code in that block.


Another similar feature works with identifiers like variable names. If you hover your mouse over a variable in a class or function VS will automatically highlight all the other instances of that identifier. This is a handy way to quickly see where you variable is used.


Finally, VS 2010 has a build in code zooming feature. If you hold the CTRL key and roll the mouse wheel you can increase and decrease the font size in the code window. This is not a feature you are likely to use in your day to day work, but it is very handy when you are doing technical presentations and the audience is having a hard time seeing the code.

None of the features is earth shattering, but I think the real promise of the new editor will come from it’s extensibility model. Once third party developers start taking advantage of this I think we will see a lot of very cool add-ons to the editor.

If you want to learn more about the editor check out the Hanselminutes podcast #147 where Scott interviews Noah Richards who is one of the developers of the new editor.

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