A simple command to add to your Visual Studio External Commands menu that will do a sanity check of all your views (and plain old ASPX pages for that matter):

It calls the aspnet_compiler tool on the current web project displaying the results n the Output window:

To set this up, go to Tool > External Tools and add an item with the Command set to to cmd.exe and Arguments set to:

/c echo Build Views for $(ProjectFileName) && if not exist "$(ProjectDir)\web.config" (echo ERROR: Not a web project! && exit) else (call "%VS110COMNTOOLS%\vsvars32.bat" && aspnet_compiler.exe -v temp -p $(ProjectDir) && echo SUCCESS)

If you are running Visual Studio 2010 then change  %VS110COMNTOOLS% to %VS100COMNTOOLS%.


Kevin Dente ponders on Twitter:

Wonder if it would be possible to create a Visual Studio add-in or macro that re-launches VS elevated, with the current project, then exits

This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, as often I’ll open a Web Application in Visual Studio configured to run under IIS and be met with the following:

The Web Application Project is configured to use IIS. To access local IIS Web sites, you must run Visual Studio in the context of an administrator account..

Running anything elevated is easy, you just need to call ShellExecute (the .NET equivalent is System.Diagnostics.Process.Start) with the “RunAs” verb, so it’s simply a matter of starting Visual Studio’s devenv.exe passing the path to the current solution.

So here goes: copy and paste this into a Macro Module (ALT+F11) then wire up to a toolbar button as appropriate:

Sub ElevateVisualStudio()

    Dim slnPath As String = DTE.Solution.FullName

    Dim startInfo As New System.Diagnostics.ProcessStartInfo(DTE.FullName, slnPath)
    startInfo.Verb = "RUNAS"


End Sub

Works On My Machine™, etc and only tested on Visual Studio 2008.


.NET 2.0 introduced partial classes which enables ".designer" files in Visual Studio 2005 and later. That is, all of the visual designer-generated code (control declarations, the InitializeComponent method, etc) can be kept in a file separate from your regular code. When you open up a .NET 1.x Visual Studio 2003 WinForms project up in Visual Studio 2005/2008 it will upgrade your project to .NET 2.0 just fine, but unfortunately it doesn't migrate your WinForms classes over to the new ".designer" project structure.

Initially I thought this would be a job for a DXCore plug-in (the free framework upon which CodeRush is built) as it provides plug-ins with an object model of the code which could be used to grab all the right members and move them over into a designer file. Before I looked into this though I checked what the options were for simply implementing it as a Visual Studio Macro. I was fully expecting to have to use a regular expression to grep the code file to perform the task, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the Visual Studio extensibility API in available to macros provides a code model (based on the .NET CodeDom I presume) which you can traverse to inspect and manipulate the underlying code.

So, here's what the resulting "ExtractWinFormsDesignerFile" macro does:

  • Locates the first class in the selected project item (DTE.SelectedItems.Item(1).ProjectItem) by traversing the ProjectItem.FileCodeModel.CodeElements
  • Extracts the InitializeComponent and Dispose methods from the class by traversing CodeClass.Members
  • Extracts all control fields: that is, all fields whose type derives from System.Windows.Forms.Control or System.ComponentModel.Container or whose type name starts with System.Windows.Forms
  • Puts all the extracted code into  a new "FormName.Designer.cs" file.

This is currently C# only - it could easily be converted to generated VB.NET code or adapted use the FileCodeModel properly and perhaps create the code in an language-agnostic way when generating the designer file. I took a shortcut in just generating the designer file as a string and writing it directly to a file.

To "install": download the macro text and copy the methods into a Visual Studio Macro Module (use ALT+F11 to show the Macro editor).

To use:

  • Select a Windows Form in the Solution Explorer
  • Run the macro by showing the Macro Explorer (ALT+F8) and double-clicking the 'ExtractWinFormsDesignerFile' macro. (Obviously you can hook the macro up to a toolbar button if you like.)
  • You will then be prompted to manually make the Form class partial (another bit I was too lazy to work out how to get the macro to do): i.e. change public class MyForm : Form to public partial class MyForm : Form

Please leave a comment if this helps you.


Like most .NET developers,  I used to do VB/VBA coding before C# came along. But, one thing I always missed in in the C# code editor was the lines that the VB editor puts between methods. An an avid user of CodeRush and Refactor! Pro, which itself does code structure painting in Visual Studio, I've created a DxCore Plugin that draws lines between methods which (IMHO) improves on the ones in the VB code editor.

Here's a screen shot of it in action:

Draw Lines Between Methods - in action

And here's the exciting options page:

Draw Lines Between Methods - settings

Even if you're a VB.NET person you might like to try it to see if it works any better for you than VB's built-in lines (although I guess you'd need to turn off the built-in method-separating lines somewhere in Tools Options).

The project is hosted on Rory Becker's DX Core Community Plugins Google Code project, where you can download the source and binaries.

Let me know how you get on with it in the comments :)


One the first issues that you have to deal with when writing unit tests is - where do I put the the tests? Here's where I prefer to have them: as close to the code that's being tested as possible, like so:

tests behind 1

The tests class is hooked up to the original source file in the same way that ASP.NET code-behind files are, as a dependent project item.

You can do this by hacking the *csproj file directly using the <DependentUpon> tag, but to automate it I've written a Visual Studio macro (works in Visual Studio 2008, should work in Visual Studio 2005) that creates an appropriately-named tests class that can be invoked like so:

Here's the macro code (copy and paste into a code module in the Visual Studio Macros IDE: Tools > Macros > Macros IDE)

Sub AddTestsFile()
   Dim item As ProjectItem = DTE.SelectedItems.Item(1).ProjectItem
   Dim fileName As String = item.FileNames(1)
   Dim dir As String = System.IO.Path.GetDirectoryName(fileName)
   Dim bareName As String = System.IO.Path.GetFileNameWithoutExtension(fileName)
   Dim newItemPath As String = dir & "\" & bareName & ".Tests.cs"

   Dim codeClass As CodeClass = findClass(item.FileCodeModel.CodeElements)
   Dim namespaceName As String = codeClass.Namespace.FullName

   System.IO.File.WriteAllText(newItemPath, "" _
     & "#if DEBUG" & vbCrLf _
     & "using System;" & vbCrLf _
     & "using System.Diagnostics;" & vbCrLf _
     & "using NUnit.Framework;" & vbCrLf _
     & "" & vbCrLf _
     & "namespace " & namespaceName & vbCrLf _
     & "{" & vbCrLf _
     & "   [TestFixture]" & vbCrLf _
     & "   public class " & codeClass.Name & "_Tests" & vbCrLf _
     & "   {" & vbCrLf _
     & "       " & vbCrLf _
     & "   }" & vbCrLf _
     & "}" & vbCrLf _
     & "#endif" & vbCrLf _

   ' Add as sub-item and show
   Dim newItem As ProjectItem = item.ProjectItems.AddFromFile(newItemPath)

End Sub

' Utility used by AddTestsFile
Function findClass(ByVal items As System.Collections.IEnumerable) As CodeClass
   For Each codeEl As CodeElement In items
      If codeEl.Kind = vsCMElement.vsCMElementClass Then
         Return codeEl
      ElseIf codeEl.Children.Count &gt; 0 Then
         Dim cls As CodeClass = findClass(codeEl.Children)
         If cls IsNot Nothing Then
            Return findClass(codeEl.Children)
         End If
      End If
   Return Nothing
End Function

The right-click Project Item context menu shortcut can be wired up to the macro with the help of Sara Ford's tip about customizing Visual Studio context menus.

Update 11 March 2008: Fixed findClass subroutine which resulted in null reference error, it now recurses correctly.