Test Your Knowledge of Visual Studio 2005

In case you haven’t already guessed from the fact that this is my fourth post today I’m currently sitting in Heathrow airport on my way back to Perth. I must quickly add that this is the first time I have travelled around the world on the “One World” alliance and have been pleasantly surprised.  The two reasons I switched was because there is no local Star Alliance partner flying internally in Australia, and I now have Qantas Club membership.  The latter is probably more significant at the moment as it meant I was able to jump the 1 hour check-in line and the 30 minute security line – today was crazy in departures according to the staff. This said, I would avoid both American Airlines and Chicargo airport like the plague!

Ok, so now to the point of this post – One of the issues I’m seeing as more and more designers are added to [VS2005] is that there are an increasing number of “options” in the Tools->Options screen.  Thankfully the options screen is fairly accommodating and each new feature can have its own node, or sub-node, in the tree.  The question is whether you as a developer a) know these options are there and b) can find them.  So, I thought I would put my knowledge of VS to the test and go through each “option” and see if I can describe what it does. Note that each parent node simply displays the contents of it’s first child, so for the purposes of this exercise they have been ignored….[This may span multiple posts, so hang in there]

Environment – General

Window layout: [Tabbed documents | Multiple documents] This controls how documents are rendered within the document (or main) area.  In the Tabbed case all documents reside in the same area; the user can switch between documents using the tabs along the top (and the dropdown at the end of the top bar). On the other hand the Multiple document layout is your traditional MDI child layout; each document appears as a separate window within the document area; windows can be tiled or arranged. In most cases the Tabbed case is preferred as you can achieve a similar effect to the Multiple layout by spliting the screen (horizontal, vertical or both). Note that even in Tabbed layout mode documents are treated as windows for the purposes of selecting the active Window using the Window menu.

Recent files – [1-24] items shown in Window menu: The number of documents shown at the bottom of the Window menu (above the “Windows…” option that opens a window selection dialog showing all open documents).

Recent files – [1-24] items shown in the recently used lists: The number of documents/projects that will appear in the recently used lists, namely the File->Recent Files and File->Recent Projects lists.

Show status bar: This usually appears in the View menu but since that menu is too busy with the numerous design windows (eg Solution Explorer, Toolbox) available in VS this option has been relegated to the options screen.  It toggles the status bar at the bottom of the VS window.

Close button affects active tool window only: For example the standard configuration is for the Solution Explorer, Class View and Properties Window to be grouped together on the edge of VS.  If this option is checked clicking the close button will only close the currently visible window.  Unchecked, all three windows would be closed.

Auto Hide button affects active tool window only: Similar to the previous option this controls the behaviour when you click the “pin” to hold an expanding window in place.  If this is checked then only the active window will be pinned/released when the pin is clicked.

Animate environment tools: This controls whether, and the speed if enabled, the tool windows are animated when they appear/disappear.  If VS is taking a while to open/close tool windows it is advisable to turn this off (in fact in 99.999% of times animation is just a PITA, so just turn it off anyhow).

Restore File Associations: In case you have assigned file types such as .cs or .vb (and a heap of others) to some other application this button allows VS to reassign them back to the defaults.  Unfortunately, unlike other applications that lets you know which file types it will affect, or even present you with an option as to which file associations you want, VS assumes it knows best and just goes ahead and does it.

Well, that was the General node of Environment; there are only like 100 or so more to do…. plenty of stuff to do on the plane.  For now I’m going to enjoy a glass of wine, some dinner and read a book before my flight.


     Environment – Add-in/Macro Security