Thursday, March 1, 2012

Visual Studio 2011 Solution Explorer


Yesterday Microsoft released a new beta of Visual Studio 2011. I’ve been playing around with it a bit to check out some of the new features.

The first and most noticeable change is the new appears of the UI. Microsoft has gone with a simpler “Metro-style” look for the interface.  Here you can see a comparison of part of the UI from Visual Studio 2011 on the left and Visual Studio 2010 on the right.

SolExplorer1         image

The new look doesn’t bother me, but I don’t think it really adds anything.

Since we are looking at the solution explorer let’s talk about one of the nice new features that has been added to VS 2011. In Visual Studio 2010 Productivity Power Tools add-on there was a feature call the Solution Navigator that combined functionality from the Solution Explorer, Class view, Object Browser and other components into a single tool. In VS 2011 this functionality has been added to the Solution Explorer right out of the box, no need for an add-on. Let’s look at some of the features this brought to the Solution Explorer.

The first new feature is the search box directly below the icon bar. Start typing into this box and the list of files will be filtered to only show file names with that word in it. Here you can see where I typed “Logo” in to the search box and the resulting file list:


The new Solution Explorer also merges in the capabilities of the Class Explorer so you can continue drilling down from the file level to see the Classes that are in the file, then the properties and methods that are in that class.


Finally you can right click on a property or method to see what code is calling the method, what code the methods calls, etc.


The Solution Navigator is a great tool so it was nice to see it made a first class part of Visual Studio.

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