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After some extensive researching (Googling), I’ve compiled this list of 15+ FREE Add-ins for Visual Studio 2005. Some of these add-ins will help improve the quality of your code, while others will help you code faster, however, none are guaranteed to help you get with the ladies.

If there’s an add-in that I’ve missed and you think that it should be added to this list, just post a comment with the name, URL, and a brief description. But before doing so, make sure that it meets the following strict requirements: a) It must run within Visual Studio 2005. b) It must be free.

So without further ado, here’s my list of 15+ Free Visual Studio 2005 Add-Ins …




This is an Add-in for the the Subversion version control system, which will allow you to perform most of the common version control operations from within Visual Studio.



C# SortCode Macro

This nifty little macro will alphabetically sort all members of a type (class or struct), grouped by their member type. I think this is a great little tool, however, I’m not a big fan of its sort order, but I’m sure that this can easily be modified in the macro. This will run in VS2005, even though the title says that it is for Visual Studio.NET 2003. When you load the macro, you will receive a warning saying that it was created in VS2002. Just click on ‘Yes’.

Before After
Sorry about the really bad screen shots. On the left hand side is a class file with the private variables, public properties and the constructor all mixed together. On the right is the same class file after running the macro.



CodeKeep Add-in

This is an add-in for CodeKeep.net, that will allow you to manage your snippets of code, and also search for other snippets all from within Visual Studio. Before installing, you will need to create an account on the CodeKeep.net web site. After you have installed the ad-in, make sure to read the Readme.txt file. There are three files that need to be copied over to the Add-ins folder.



Code Style Enforcer

Need a proof reader for your code? If yes, then this is the add-in for you. What it does, is it checks your code in real time against IDesign’s C# coding standards and best practices. When it finds something that it doesn’t agree with, it will underline it with what looks like a red pen. It is really picky, however, the rules can be modified. For example, you may want to change some rules to allow the variable names "e" for EventArgs and "ex" for Exceptions. Before installing Code Style Enforcer, you will first need to install DXCore from Developer Express.




I’ll give you three guesses as to what this add-in does. Give up? Well, CopySourceAsHtml does exactly what it says. This add-in it will allow you to copy your source code along with the syntax highlighting and line numbers, to HTML. As their site says, "If Visual Studio can highlight it, CSAH can copy it …".


I did have one small issue with this plug-in. It seems that when I pasted my code, it forgot to close of a <span>, and another <span> was out of place. However, I’m sure that I’ll be using this tool a few times for some future posts.



EncapsulateAllNonPrivateFields macro

Here’s another little macro from Reflection IT. This macro generates private fields, and public properties. To use it, all you have to do is declare a few public variables, highlight them, then run the macro, and VOILA! You now have a property and a private field for each variable that you highlighted.


If you plan on using this macro, and have their C# SortCode macro loaded, you must unload it first.

Before After
On the left I’ve declared four public variables. On the right is what you get after running the macro. Each one of the four public properties has now became a private variable and a public property



GhostDoc 2.1.1

According to its site, GhostDoc "automatically generates XML documentation comments for C#. Either by using existing documentation inherited from base classes or implemented interfaces, or by deducing comments from name and type of e.g. methods, properties or parameters." I couldn’t have said it any better.


Although it’s not perfect (my own comments are far from perfect), it can save quite a bit of time, especially when it uses existing documentation.




This add-in, like CodeKeep, allows you to search for code from within Visual Studio. From what I can tell, that is where the similarities end. I was unable to find any way to save my snippets of code, without upgrading to the Pro version, which is $9.99/month or $99/year.



Microsoft Popfly Explorer Alpha

This add-in allows you create, modify, and share Visual Studio solutions from your Popfly Space. You must be a registered user to access Popfly.



Modeling Power Toys

If you use the Class Designer in Visual Studio, then I suggest that you download and install this add-in.

From their web site, here is a partial list of enhancements that it provides:

Design Tools Enhancements

- Diagram Search

- Formatting Commands

- Floating Property Grid

- Pan/Zoom Window

- Design Surface Scrolling Improvements

- Create Comments with Double-Click

- Design Surface Grid

Class Designer Enhancements

- Export Diagrams for Web

- Display Xml Comment Command

- Documentation Tool Window

- Filtering Appearance

- Filtering Lines

- Filtering Members

- MSDN Help on System Types

- Fast Navigation

- Interface Lollipop Labels Commands

- Inheritance Visualization Commands

- Show Type Command

- Association and Inheritance Line Dongles

- Create Tests Command

- Type Creation Commands

- Add Member Commands

- Synchronization with Code Definition Window

- View Class Diagram Command Improvements

- Creating Custom Add-ins

Options Screen
To get a good sense of what Modeling Power Toys has to offer, here’s a screen shot of all of the options that are available. In case you’re wondering, no, all of these options aren’t visible all at once. This is the combination of four screen shots.




This is a .Net port of the popular Hibernate Core for Java. Since I can’t clearly explain what it is, I’ll give you their explanation from their own site.


NHibernate handles persisting your .NET objects to and from an underlying relational database. Rather than you having to write SQL to get your objects in and out of the database, NHibernate takes care of this for you. Your code only needs to be concerned with your objects, NHibernate generates the SQL and makes sure that things end up in the correct tables and columns.



Pinvoke.Net Addin

This add-in, owned by Red Gate, is similar to CodeKeep, but instead of searching and adding snippets of code, Pinvoke.Net allows developers to find, edit and add PInvoke signatures, user-defined types, and any other information related to calling Win32 and other unmanaged APIs from managed code (written in languages such as C# or VB.NET).



Refactor!™ for ASP.NET

Looking for a real time saving add-in? Well look no further. Refactor! comes with 29 time saving refactorings, with 10 of those just for ASP.Net.



Regular Expression Visualizers

Visual Studio already has a Text Visualizer, an XML Visualizer and an HTML Visualizer built in. But now you can also visualize Regular expressions. It allows you to visualize System.String, RegularExpressions.Regex, RegularExpresions.Match and RegularExpressions.MatchCollection.



Regions Add-In

This add-in makes creating and managing regions a lot easier. To download the source code and/or installer for Visual Studio 2005, go to http://janyou.bokee.com/index.html.

If you’ve never used regions before, check out this short posting: http://trackerrealm.com/blogs/2007/04/make-use-of-regions-when-developing-c.html

Now you see it …
New Region Popup
To add your code to a new region, just highlight your code, right click, and select Add to New Region. When given the dialog, type in the name for the new region, then click OK.
Existing Region Popup
Adding your code to an existing region is as simple as adding it to a new region. Highlight your code, right click, select Add to Existing Region, then select the region that you want to add your code to from the left hand pane, then click on OK.
The Delete() method from the previous screen shot has been moved to the Public Methods region.



SlickEdit® Gadgets

The gadgets are a collection of several utilities, some a bit more useless than others.

- Editor Gadgets: This, in my opinion, is the most useless set of utilities that SlickEdit Gadgets offers.

Included is a "ruler", which highlights the line that your cursor is on. Not sure why you would need a ruler to measure your code. Each tick mark on the ruler represents your editor’s tab space.

Also, there’s a vertical dashed line that shows you indentation level of the line that your cursor is on.

Thirdly, they have what they call "Auto-copy selection", which is similar to mIrc’s copying feature. If this is enabled, every time you highlight something, it automatically gets copied. To do paste, you would click on your mouse’s middle button (scroll wheel).

Lastly, is the most useless feature of the useless set of features, the "Editor Graphic". By enabling this feature, you can select a graphic from your personal collection, and it will be shown in your editor, like below. In the settings, there’s an option to enable animated graphics, however, I tried two different animated GIFs, and neither worked for me.

- The Command Spy: This little utility won’t improve your coding, but it will help you become more familiar with Visual Studio’s shortcuts. When ever you perform an action, such as Save, Copy, File Open, Build, or pretty much anything else that you can click on through the toolbars or menu, Command Spy will capture that event and display it, along with it’s shortcut if there is one.

- File Explorer: Windows Explorer for Visual Studio ….

- The Data Object Analyzer: Ever wanted to add clipboard or drag-and-drop integration into your application? If yes, then this utility might be for you.

Data Object Analyzer inspects the contents of any clipboard operation, or drag-and-drop operation, from any other application, and then can be used to automatically generate functions to handle any clipboard or drag-and-drop data.

- The SLOC Report: Now, if you’re going to brag that your code is bigger than someone else’s (why else would they include a ruler?), you better use the SLOC Report. What it does is it breaks your code down into three categories, Whitespace, Comments, and Code, and displays it in a pie graph..



Smart Paster 1.1

Smart Paster is a simple little tool, that will give you the option to paste copied text as either a Comment, String, StringBuilder, or a region.

A perfect example where this could save a lot of time would be if you copied a chuck of JavaScript code that you need to paste into your own VB.Net or C# code. Instead of doing the usual paste, then manually wrapping each line in a StringBuilder.AppendLine(), or in quotes for a regular String, you could just use the "Paste as StringBuilder", or "Paste as String" option, and let it do the dirty work for you.

Smart Paster 1.1 Configuration
Smart Paster - Paste As …
Here’s a screenshot that shows you the different options that are available in Smart Paster 1.1, as well the output for each one (excluding the "Paste As … >" comment)




This add-in allows you to quickly search for files within a solution, by either using the full name (MyClass.cs), part of it (*Class), or even initials (MC). The search is done while you type, just like Mac OS X’s Spotlight, Vista’s search.



Update - September 25, 2007


This add-in (pronounced ri-jeh-neh-rate), is an open-source tool that will quickly apply layout rules to your code. With two clicks of a mouse, it will sort your code, and break it up into regions, such as Fields, Constructors, and Properties.

One of the things that I liked about this tool, is that it allows you to create your own layouts, something I wish the Sort Code macro did (but I’m sure you can modify the macro yourself to suit your needs).

One of the things I didn’t like about it however, is that you can’t place code into customized regions (like the Regions Add-In does). So say I wanted to create a region called Overloads, or Ajax Methods. If I created these two regions, it doesn’t give me the option to place code into them, and, if I run the Regionerate, it will remove the regions, and place the code into its own regions, such as Methods.

Before …
After …



Resource Refactoring Tool

Resource Refactoring Tool provides developers an easy way to extract hard coded strings from the code to resource files.

I installed it, and tried it out on an .aspx page, but didn’t have any luck.




This cool util allows you to place hyperlinks into your code, to other parts of your code, or files



Update - September 28, 2007


DPack is a free collection of Visual Studio .NET 2003 and 2005 tools, which were designed to greatly increase developer’s productivity, automate repetitive processes and expand upon some of the Visual Studio features.

If I had to choose just one Add-in from this list, so far it would be between Refactor! and DPack.

DPack’s features include: Code Browser, File Browser, Solution Browser, Framework Browser, Numbered Bookmarks, Surround With, Code Navigation, Solution Statistics, and a Solution Backup


Well, that’s all for now folks. This list, with all of the images is getting a bit too long for one page, so I’ve decided to stop adding to this list.

However, with that being said, I have already started compiling Part 2, which will feature a new list of some of the best FREE Visual Studio 2005 Add-ins. If this list had some things in it that you never knew about, but wish that you did, I can almost guarantee that the next one will have even more.

Thanks to everyone who made some suggestions, they haven’t been ignored.

P.S. If you know of any addins that aren’t on the list, feel free to suggest them. 


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