Friday, 15 January 2016

Visual Studio 2013 Productivity Power Tools New Features

With the release of Productivity Power Tools 2013 for Visual Studio 2013 come eleven new powerful features. Some of these features are brand new extensions, while others are improvements to functionality found in previous versions of Productivity Power Tools.

For full details of the features, please refer to the Productivity Power Tools 2013 entry.

In this post I'll explain what I have learned from a video that introduces these new features such as quick tasks, recently closed documents, peek help, HTML copy and others.

Peek Help "Alt + F1"
This feature allows you to fetch the MSDN documentation for types and display it online inside the editor, you can right click on any type on the editor, and click on the "Peek Help" command or press "Alt + F1" key to fetch the MSDN documentation for that type and display it online in a full browser control, then you can navigate to other links, you can even do things like find, you can click "Promote To Document" button to open this link in a real browser or you can hit ESC to go back to your editor. This feature extremely useful to know about new type without having to leave visual studio.

Solution Explore Squiggle
This feature shows squiggles "red underline" on files on the solution explorer when there are errors, warnings or messages. You can hold the mouse pointer on this files to get quick view of all these errors, then double click on any item to quickly navigate to that point inside the editor. You can also filter the solution explorer by clicking "Error Filters" combo-box or press "Ctrl + L E" to just get a list of files that has the error. This feature extremely useful to get a quick view of the health of execution without having to open the error list.

Block Structure Visualizer
This feature creates marker in the editor corresponding to different blocks in your code. For example, you may see different vertical lines with different colors for different blocks in the code such as a vertical line corresponds to namespace, class or for-loops. Lines and colors differently depending on the type of the blocks and if the starting of the block is scrolled up to the screen it gives me a preview about the block when I hold the mouse "hover" on its corresponding line for a while. This extension can be relay helpful to understand the structure of your code base when it scrolled out of view.

Double Click To Maximize Windows
This feature allows you to double click on any window inside visual studio to quickly maximize it to full screen. You can double click on the full screen again to dock it back into the original position. The feature works not just for tools windows but even for documents, so I can double click on a document to quickly maximize it to a full screen, and double click again back to my original position. This feature extremely useful if you want to get quick full screen views of certain things inside visual studio.

The Time Stamp Margin In The Debug Output Window
If you open the output window and open the debug section, you will have time stamps corresponding to different debug messages. The feature is very useful if you have a very large number of debug messages to understand the times each of the message was created.

Quick Task Extension Improvement 
This feature is introduced in the previous versions of power tools. It helps if you want to turn line numbers on in the editor, pres "Ctrl + Q" and simply type "linenumon" to immediatly turn on line number inside the editor. We can search for all the tasks available to you by typing "@tasks e" to list all the tasks provided by the quick tasks extension. There are over 32 tasks from which you can chose. The most popular task of them is called "PresentOn", which pumbs up the editor and the environment font to optimize layout for presentations "i.e. adjusts font for code presentation". A popular feature we had for the "PresentOn" extension was to allow people to customize the font sizes and font families by typing "PresentEdit", which allows you to open an XML file and customize the font family and font size you want for your "PresentOn" task.

Document Table Extension Improvement
It colorizes document-tab depending on the file that the tab belongs to. You can customize document tab by clicking on the "Customize" option in the menu that pops on when you click the arrow button at the right had side of the tab ribbon. Where you will find an option called "Show icons" under "Productivity Power Tools >> Custom Document Well >> General". By checking this option it shows you icons right on the document tab. So, if you a solution with a large number of languages or different types of files then this extension can really help you landing down on the file that you are looking for.

Go To Definition Improvement
It is feature, which allows you to navigate to definitions by "Ctrl + Click" on a symbol. It is made easy by opening a peek view to show the definition inside, right below the symbol, of course it is an option for you that you can customize the symbol definition the way you want inside the peek view. 

HTML Copy Extension Improvement
This extensions allows you to copy your code as HTML and past into your blog site or any HTML editor. Open Edit menu and select "Copy Html Markup" to copy your select lines of code as HTML, If you have an editor that doesn't support WYSWYG you can directly past the HTML content inside it. So as you can see the code was copied along with HTML tags.

Undo Close Document
If you closed a punch of documents in the document tab you can click on the "File" menu and select "Recently Closed Documents", which allows you to open any recently closed document.

Match Margin
It is a feature that highlights all the text matches for any token in the editor, so if I place my caret on "System" token, it highlights all the occurrences of "System" in my file as well as the scroll-bar, for example, if you click on "Public" the scroll bar shows you many markers corresponding to the text "Public".

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