Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Because you’re reading this magazine, there’s a good chance you sling code for a living. And if you sling code for a living, you probably spend a lot of time in your IDE … which is—because you’re reading this magazine—probably Visual Studio.

Visual Studio 2010 is already an incredibly versatile coding tool. It does pretty much everything except write the code for you, and in many cases it’s getting good at doing that, too. Still, Visual Studio can’t do it all out of the box.

That’s where extensions come to the rescue. Visual Studio 2010 provides robust support for extensibility via custom tools, templates and plug-ins. (Note, however, that the Express versions of Visual Studio don’t support extensions.) If you can’t find the feature you need in Visual Studio, chances are there’s an extension that helps you customize the IDE or provides the tools you need to write code better and faster.

We’ll cover a few of the most popular free extensions for Visual Studio 2010.

Power Tools for Visual Studio There are thousands of extensions out there, and it just so happens that one of the most robust extensions was created by the Visual Studio team. Visual Studio 2010 Productivity Power Tools ( is a package of 15 handy features that range from Solution Navigator (think Solution Explorer on steroids) to tab autocompletion and highly configurable enhancements to tabs. Scott Guthrie explains how each of the features in Productivity Power Tools works on his blog, so check that out for details (

image: Solution Navigator in Productivity Power Tools

Solution Navigator in Productivity Power Tools

PowerCommands 10.0 PowerCommands 10.0 (, like Productivity Power Tools, is a grab bag of useful extra tools that will speed up or simplify common tasks in the IDE. You get 25 features in the package; they include robust copy and paste enhancements (copying entire classes, for example). The package also includes the ability to format your code, sort using statements and remove unused using references when saving.

Team Foundation Server Power Tools September 2010 Don’t feel left out if you’re using Visual Studio Team Foundation Server (TFS). Microsoft has a set of Power Tools for you, too. This extension ( gives you 11 new features that include check-in policies and item templates, a process editor, TFS command-line tools and Windows Powershell cmdlets, team member management, Windows shell integration and automated database backup.

Visual Studio Color Theme Editor It may not sound as glamorous, but sometimes it’s the little details that make coding that much easier. Take the colors used in the Visual Studio windows, tabs and menus, for instance. Do brighter colors cheer your mood? Are you particularly fond of magenta? Whatever you prefer, Visual Studio Color Theme Editor ( lets you customize all of the environment colors used in the IDE. You can also save themes and share them with your friends.

StudioStyles An even more personal choice is the colorization used for the code itself in your editor. StudioStyles ( is a Web site that lets you download, create and share the .vssettings files that specify code colorization. Added bonus: These themes can be used with Visual Studio 2010, 2008, 2005 and even the Express versions.

image: StudioStyles


WordLight Do you ever want to quickly find all the places you’ve used a method or variable name? WordLight ( is a simple extension for Visual Studio 2008 that lets you select some text and instantly highlights all other occurrences of that string in the code file. It also works in the Output, Command and Immediate windows.

Spell Checker If y0u tpye lke I do, the Spell Checker is a lifesaver. The Spell Checker extension ( looks for errors in the non-code portions of your files. It works in any plain-text files, for comments and strings in source code, and for non-tag elements of HTML and ASP files.

TortoiseSVN Add-in for Visual Studio So you’ve written and tested your code. If you’re working on a team or open source project, you probably need to commit your source to a repository. There’s a tool for that.

If you’re using Apache Subversion ( source control along with a TortoiseSVN client for Windows (, there are a couple of Visual Studio extensions that incorporate the TortoiseSVN functionality into the IDE (, saving you many steps in the commit process.

VsTortoise When using TFS, you’ll need to add a layer such as SvnBridge ( that translates APIs between Subversion clients like TortoiseSVN ( and TFS.

Another popular source-code management system is Git (, and if that’s your preferred repository, then there’s an extension for you, too. Git Extensions ( includes shell extensions for Windows Explorer and a Visual Studio plug-in. Plus, you can run most features from the command line.

NuGet Inspired by RubyGems and similar package-management systems from the Linux development world, NuGet ( gives Microsoft .NET Framework developers the ability to easily incorporate libraries from source-code repositories directly into their local development projects. NuGet integrates with the Visual Studio 2010 IDE, and you can also run NuGet from the command line or via Windows PowerShell cmdlets.

image: NuGet


Emacs and Vim Emulation In the beginning there was vi, and it was difficult to learn. Since those early days, Emacs and Vim have battled for supremacy as the One True Editor among coders. If you’ve chosen sides in that debate, yet find yourself using Visual Studio, then rejoice! The keybindings and many other features you know and love from Emacs and Vim are now available in extensions for Visual Studio.

You can follow the progress of VsVim ( developer Jared Parsons via his blog ( More information about Emacs emulation (, along with lots of other great tips, can be found on the Visual Studio Team blog (

A Gallery of Extensions This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as Visual Studio extensions are concerned. Thousands of templates, custom controls and extensions are available through the Visual Studio Gallery (, and more are being added all the time. Many are free, and there are trial versions available for many of the commercial products.

Write Your Own Extensions Don’t see what you need in the Visual Studio Gallery? Write your own! Visual Studio 2010 includes deep hooks for extensibility—anything from a custom project template to third-party tools that integrate directly with the IDE. Through the Extending Visual Studio developer center (, MSDN Library articles and other resources in the Visual Studio community (, you’ll find a vast amount of information to start creating custom Visual Studio extensions. You’ve already got the tools … start coding! 

Source: Terrence Dorsey

About the Author:

Terrence Dorsey is the technical editor of MSDN Magazine. You can read his blog at or follow him on Twitter at @tpdorsey.


1.) The WP7 AppHub

This is more then just the place to buy or sell your WP7 applications.  From the education tab (the link I shared above) you can get code samples for anything from simple silverlight apps to 2-D and 3-D XNA games.

2.) Windows Phone 7 Development for Absolute Beginners

If you are start off from scratch (either a beginner programmer or transferring from another language), this is the place for you. This is step-by-step for the absolute beginner

3.) Tim Heuer’s Blog

Tim Heuer not only talks on all things silverlight, but also dabbles in the WP7 phone from time to time with some really great insight.

4.) The UI and Interaction Guide for WP7

I know, I know, as a developer you usually stay away form UI stuff… but for WP7 you really need to understand this stuff.  These guides will bring you up to speed.

5.) The Windows Phone 7 Training Course

For those that are more than beginners but still want a step by step approach to building an WP7 application, the hands-on-labs here will get you going.

6.) Charles Petzond’s Free Programming Windows Phone 7 book

What else do I need to say… it’s a free book Smile

7.) Shawn Wildermuth’s Developing for the Windows Phone 7 Series

Shawn does a great hands on course on Windows Phone 7.  This series scratches the surface on what his class offers.

8.) Windows Phone 7 Sample apps

A great list of sample applications for you to learn from from Compiled Experience blog.

9.) Windows Phone 7 and Azure

WP7 and Azure, a love story…. no, just kidding.. but it is a great set of post on how to use WP7 with Azure Cloud Services with Bart Merchtem

10.) Windows Phone 7 Patterns and Practices

The definitive guide to the how and the why on Windows Phone 7


Source: Deniel : The Sociable Geek

Note for the Author

I would like to present me special thank to Deniel to spending time in collecting those important learning sources and making them available to developers who wants to start development for Microsoft’s latest Mobile Platform i.e. WP7.

Another week, another milestone. Yes, just like clockwork nearly every two-weeks the Marketplace adds another 1,000 apps to its belt (5K was on 12/28/10).

The good news is development doesn’t seem to be slowing (20K+ developers on board now), then again, it doesn’t seem to be growing more rapidly either. However, Microsoft’s app approval system may be fixed to only be able to push out 1k every two weeks and not really anymore. It’s all a mystery to us.

Regardless, at this rate we should hit 10,000 apps by the second week in March at which point we’ll have a party or something. All we know is we’re leaving WebOS in our dust and our next goal is to beat BlackBerry (16K apps). See previous 5,000 posthere with each previous 1,000 documented.

Source: Marketplacebrowser



Winning quite a few bets I am sure, the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace has passed 5000 apps, currently running 5023 according to Marketplace Browser.

This would mean the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace has now passed that of the Palm Pre, established 18 months ago, in less than 2 months.  At this rate it should pass the Blackberry App world, which only has a bit more than 16,000 apps, in less than 6 months, and likely faster if the Windows phone 7 Marketplace sees the same exponential influx of developers as the iPhone and Android has seen.

While the Marketplace is growing by leaps and bounds, there are still some essential segments which are still woefully underserved, including essential vertical ones like medical applications, so there is certainly a long way still do go.


Through an email to Windows Phone 7 developers Microsoft has informed that 16 categories and 25 sub-categories of apps will be included to Marketplace for Windows Phone 7.

List of Categories of Windows Phone 7 Apps in Marketplace

  1. Books & Reference
  2. Business
  3. Entertainment
  4. Finance
  5. Games
      Action & Adventure
      Board & Classic
      Card & Casino
      Puzzle & Trivia
      Sports & Racing
      Xbox Companion
  6. Health & Fitness
      Diet & Nutrition
  7. Lifestyle
      Food & Dining
      Out & About
  8. Music & Video
  9. Navigation
  10. News & Weather
  11. Photo
  12. Productivity
  13. Social
  14. Sports
  15. Tools
  16. Travel
      City Guides
      Travel Tools

Apps for Windows Phone 7 will be approved by Microsoft before they added to Marketplace for users and company will start accepting apps in October 2010.


In an attempt to start changing this blog from nothing but a platform for me to spout off about projects, or talking aboutcontests :) , and actually try to provide some value to readers, I’m starting a new category on the site called “Quick tips”.  When I can, I’ll be posting small bits of code that I think would be helpful.  If you have a question on how I’ve done anything in the applications I’ve written (more to be posted soon), please feel free to ask, and I’ll answer what I can.

On my last post, Ishmeet asked if I could shed a bit of light on how I was able to play the audio clips in the PhoneTree application, so here goes:

One of the best things about having both Silverlight and XNA at your disposal when developing for WP7 is that you can use the XNA pieces within your Silverlight app when ever you want.

For the MediaPlayer functionality you’ll need to add the Microsoft.Xna.Framework.dll reference.  Once you’ve done that, use the following code:

1  MediaPlayer.Stop();

2  Song song = Song.FromUri("Sample Song", new Uri(txtUrl.Text ) );

3  MediaPlayer.Play(song);

If you try and run the code at this point, it will play, but the application will also crash complaining that FrameworkDispatcher.Update has not been called.  After looking around for a while I finally found a post by Danny on the XNA Team explaining the problem.  He did a better job explaining it then I can so you can read it here.

Basically you’ll need the following class:

01 public class XNAAsyncDispatcher : IApplicationService

02 {

03       private DispatcherTimer frameworkDispatcherTimer;


05       public XNAAsyncDispatcher(TimeSpan dispatchInterval)

06      {

07           this.frameworkDispatcherTimer = new DispatcherTimer();

08           this.frameworkDispatcherTimer.Tick += new EventHandler(frameworkDispatcherTimer_Tick);

09           this.frameworkDispatcherTimer.Interval = dispatchInterval;

10      }


12        void IApplicationService.StartService(ApplicationServiceContext context)  { this.frameworkDispatcherTimer.Start(); }

13        void IApplicationService.StopService() { this.frameworkDispatcherTimer.Stop(); }

14        void frameworkDispatcherTimer_Tick(object sender, EventArgs e) { FrameworkDispatcher.Update(); }

15 }

and then add it to the Application Lifetime Objects like so:

1  this.ApplicationLifetimeObjects.Add(new XNAAsyncDispatcher(TimeSpan.FromMilliseconds(50)));

Once you’ve done that, your good to go.

Here is a sample showing off this technique.

Source: 4MK Mobile Dev Blog

Windows Phone 7

Here’s a quick post to document something I am seeing with the Windows Phone 7 emulator. When you are running your application and you want to test it tombstoning (e.g. deactivating), you should notice thatVisual Studio stops debugging when that happens. When you return to your applciation (via the back button or in the case of a chooser, once you’ve choosen something), you’ll get a black screen. This isn’t a bug…its a feature!

This black screen is giving you a few seconds (I think Pete Brown said 10 seconds) to run your application to activate and continue your debugging session. I found this in a Windows Phone 7 team blog about the tombstoning cycle, but it was buried in a comment so I thought bringing it as a first class topic might help.  Remember, see the black screen on the emulator (or on hardware), just re-run your phone app in Visual Studio to continue debugging!

Source: Shawm Wildermuth