Microsoft News: Migrating to a New Extension Model in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010

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Microsoft News: The Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 code editor and shell, rebuilt using managed code, allows .NET developers to build custom tools around extension points throughout the IDE. This is enabled by the Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) library and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) in .NET 4, on which it's built.

Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 also introduces VSIX deployment, a container model for extensions that is based on the Open Packaging Convention. OPC is used in the Microsoft Office System Open XML specification, which is supported in Office 2007 apps and other Microsoft software. It stores the extension, manifest and payload in a standard ZIP file.

VSIX is part of the new Extension Manager in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, which allows .NET developers to manage their extensions, and share code templates, for example, in the Visual Studio Gallery from a menu within Microsoft Visual Studio 2010. Microsoft announced the Visual Studio Gallery, a community portal for hosting free and commercial add-ins and extensions in February 2008.

Microsoft Visual Studio continues to support deployment technologies such as the Visual Studio Content Installer (VSI) and the Microsoft Installer (MSI), but not through Extension Manager. The VSI format can be used for macros, add-ins, code snippets, and certain other Visual Studio extension types. The MSI format, which is used extensively for applications, can also be used for extensions. Both .vsi files and .msi files comprise complete packages that can be distributed, and that can be installed by double-clicking.

With the new extensibility model, many .NET developers are concerned about having to rewrite existing add-ins as extensions in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010.

Despite these changes, Microsoft is working to make extending the IDE easier for developers in general. The Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 SDK is 10MB, a considerably smaller download than its 100-MB predecessor in Microsoft Visual Studio 2008, according to Microsoft's senior vice president of the developer division, S. "Soma" Somasegar, primarily because samples and documentation are now hosted online. The DSL Tools SDK is also a separate download. "The Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 SDK’s install time has also gone from 20 minutes to just over a minute," Soma noted in December in his blog, which highlighted the new extensibility model. At RTM on April 12, the Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 SDK documentation will also be available for local download, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft News: Microsoft moves beyond macros, add-ins and packages with a new extension model in Micrsoft Visual Studio 2010 that offers powerful new ways to enhance your .NET developer experience.

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