Some new Productivity Power Tools for Visual Studio 2010 are just waiting for you to download. But even free software isn't worth the effort unless it does something better. How much power does a Power Tool have?
The new Productiviity Power Tools upgrade for Visual Studio 2010 includes the Power Tools Extensions described in a previous news item, Microsoft releases new tools for Visual Studio 2010. So far I personally have found some of the original power tools useful enough to miss if they were taken away. One or two of the new features are also worth having.
If you already have the previous version of the tools installed all you have to do is open the Extension Manager, click Updates and select Productivity Power Tools. A short download later you are all ready to go - just remember to restart Visual Studio. If you don't have them already installed then visit - Download Power Tools.
You can customise the Power Tools by selecting Tools,Options and selecting Show all settings.and selecting Productivity Power Tools. From here you can switch particular tools on or off and customise the behaviors of the Tab Well and the Solution Navigator. This is a welcome new feature because, for example, while the ability to copy code snippets in HTML complete with formatting is useful, the paste target sometimes doesn't like it. Hence being able to turn it off and on is useful if not essential.
Customise Power Tools
There are a number of extras in the new Power Tools but the one that is obviously useful is the Solution Navigator. This is an additional window that shows you the File view that you know from the Solution Explorer but now when you expand a file you see the classes it contains. Expand another level and you see the methods and properties in the class. If you hover over an item you see related information such as references, callers, etc. You can also preview images and other resources by hovering over them. There is also a search and filter option which are handy if you are working with a big project.
What could be more useful and logical. Yes you need to see a complete class structure as supplied by the Class Explorer but when you are coding knowing the relationships between classes and files is more useful. Of course you can double click on a class, method or property and it will be automatically loaded into the editor. I've already given up using the Solution Explorer in favor of the Navigator, even though it still lacks some Explorer features.
I'm less sure about the next Power Tool. Quick Access lets you find menu commands using search. The reason I'm less sure about it is that I tend not to lose a command and when I do mostly can't remember what it's called - hence I can't imagine using this feature much., but I could be wrong.
Also new is brace completion - it provides a proper closing symbol when you use an opening symbol. This ensures that you get pairs of opening/closing symbols. As I also work in Eclipse some of the time this is a feature I miss when working in Visual Studio but it has to be admitted that it can be a nuisance - simply putting the closing symbols in the wrong place. Two small extras make this feature much more workable however - press Tab and you are moved out of the bracket to just beyond the closing bracket and Shift-Enter takes you beyond the bracket to the next line.
Some of the original Power Tools have been improves slightly. The guidelines, something I now can't work without, have been tweaked for the better. Most of the changes are bug fixes or making things work a little better.
Is it worth downloading? Yes, its free and some of the tools are really useful.
If you want to know about the Power Tools that were included in the first version (and are also in this update) see: Microsoft releases new tools for Visual Studio 2010