New Features in Visual Studio 2005

The new version of Visual Studio has many new features that help increase a developers productivity. I thought I would just list a few and I do mean just a few of the features that I think are really cool. 


Changes Tracking 

The one thing that is tough to track are changes you make to your code, especially when you are on a roll and modifying a lot of code. What Change Tracking does is allow you to see which files you have modified during your edit session. The changes are identified by a visual indicator in the margin. When the margin is highlighted yellow, this means that the line was edited and the file has yet to be saved and when the margin is highlighted green, it means the line was edited before the last save pass. For those of you who have to have things your way, you can customize the highlight color from the Options dialog box by updating “Track Changes before save” in “Display items” on the Fonts and Colors page. 


Bookmarks and the Bookmark Window    

Bookmarks are an excellent way for you to mark code as you are analyzing either your own code or someone else’s code. As you use the “Go to Definition” feature to dive deeper into the code you can place a bookmark at the spot you are getting ready to jump from so when you are ready to go back up the calling sequence you can easily do so using the new bookmark navigation buttons on the toolbar. I just love this feature because it saves me so much time. One of the neat things about this feature is that if you close a file you can navigate right back into it and the editor will open it up automatically. There is also a tool window which allows you to manage and control your bookmarks. You are able to put related bookmarks in folders, name them, and re-order them as you see fit which can really come in handy. 


IDE Navigation Feature 

Since I am always looking for a way to navigate without using my mouse this feature really come in handy. VS now has a way to switch between open windows using the SHIFT+CTL+ALT+P key sequence. What this does is open a window that lists your open windows and allows you to navigate using the up/down arrows and select a window to bring forward and begin an edit session on. 



On the heels of the fantastic book “Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code” by Martin Fowler comes refactoring support in Visual Basic and C#. First, for C# the available refactoring options include rename, extract method, extract interface, change signature, and encapsulate field. If you are using VB.NET I am sorry to say the features are not so great and the support is limited to rename. But hold on, all is not lost in VB land. You can now download which is an add-in that supports many of the refactoring capabilities in C#. 



Solution Folders 

This feature is a great organizational tool for large project. What you can now do is create folders in the top, usually blank, solution and organize your projects using these folders. So for example in a large smart client project with many control library project you can categorize your projects and put them in separate folders helping make projects easy to find. 


Edit and Continue for C# and Visual Basic  

You can change your C# and Visual Basic code while debugging your application and continue running your application. This feature improves your productivity by allowing you to fix errors rapidly, test new functionality, and modify existing functionality. 


Like I said this is only a few. Man am I glad VS 2005 is around the bend.

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