Visual Studio Tips and Tricks – Quick Launch (Where was that option/menu item?)


    VisualStudioLogoEver tried to remember where you turn line numbers on and off? Or where you go to change the theme for Visual Studio? Quick Launch, a new feature in Visual Studio 2013, gets rid of the guess work!

    Find more Visual Studio tips and tricks here

    As I was exploring new features in Visual Studio 2013, I found mention of a new feature called Quick Launch. After one day, I was hooked! Quick Launch is a feature that helps you locate features and options within the Visual Studio tool. You can find the full documentation of the feature in the MSDN documentation on Quick Launch. In this post I will cover the following:

    • Where is Quick Launch?
    • What does Quick Launch do?
    • Where can I get Visual Studio 2013? 

    Where is Quick Launch?

    Look in the top right hand corner of your developer environment in Visual Studio 2013. You will see a text box. That’s Quick Launch.


    What does Quick Launch do?

    Quick Launch is a search tool, but instead of searching through your code, it searches the Visual Studio tool itself. Quick Launch will search menu items, options, and file names (NOT file contents, you already have other tools for searching file contents), Nuget packages, and tasks.

    Let’s say you want to change the font size of the text in the code editor window. You know that’s buried somewhere in Tools | Options but you can’t remember exactly where. Just go to Quick Launch and type “font size” check out the results.

    QuickLaunchFontSizeAs you can see, the search results return the location of the font size setting in Tools | Options. If you click on “Environment – Fonts and Colors” Visual Studio will open up the Tools | Options to the location where you can set your font size.

    font size tools options

    It will even update the search results if you have installed Visual Studio add-ons that provide additional menu items. I have installed a Color Theme pack, so when I can’t remember where to change my selected color them search for “theme” . I not only see where I can change the theme in Tools | Options, but also the menu items that were created when I installed the add-on.


    If you know you are searching menu items or Tools Options specifically, you can even specify prefixes when you do your search to narrow down results.

    • @mru returns Most Recently Used
    • @menu searches for menu items
    • @opt Searches Tools Options…there is so much goodness hidden in there if you know where to look.
    • @doc searches file names and paths but NOT file contents, you have other tools to search file contents (such as Find in Files/ CTRL+SHIFT+F)

    For example, I might not remember where in the menu to launch performance tools. So I type “@menu performance”. The results only show menu items that include the keyword performance.

    menu options quick launch

    Where can I get Visual Studio 2013?

    Quick Launch is a new feature in Visual Studio 2013. So if you haven't downloaded a copy yet. You can download it and start exploring today.

  • Go DevMENTAL

    Visual Studio Tips and Tricks – new features in Visual Studio 2013


    VisualStudioLogo Susan Ibach and Christopher Harrison present new features in Visual Studio 2013 on Microsoft Virtual Academy.

    I’ve been blogging about different Visual Studio features on GoDevMental, so when the opportunity came along to do a presentation to highlight some of the great new features in Visual Studio 2013, I couldn’t resist. I love sharing great tips on how to get the most out of Visual Studio.

    Tomorrow, Thursday December 12th, 2013, I’ll be presenting New Features in Visual Studio 2013 with the help of Microsoft Certified Trainer, Christopher Harrison on Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA). You may have seen Christopher on MVA before, he presented ASP.NET MVC 4 Jump Start, and Developing SharePoint Server 2013 Core Solutions Jump Start. He will also be presenting Developing SharePoint Server Advanced Solutions Friday December 13th, 2013.

    The recording is now available here

    What will be covered?

    • Integrated Development Environment features – there are some new features in Visual Studio that can be used by any developer regardless of your preferred programming language or target platform. This session will show you new tips & tricks in Visual Studio 2013!
    • Web features – See what’s new for  web developers, that includes HTML, ASP.NET, Cloud, and Office 365 developers.
    • Application Lifecycle Management features – whether you are working on a small project or a big one, the ability to capture requirements, track work across team members, plan releases, and communicate with team members is essential. Visual Studio online and TFS 2013 offer some great improvements to help you with your projects.
    • Mobile app development features – More and more developers are building for mobile devices, check out what’s been added to make building apps for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone easier and faster.

    If you can, join us live tomorrow, Thursday December 12th starting at 10:30 AM Pacific time. Register here.

    If you can’t join us live, the recorded sessions will be available along with all lots of other great content on demand afterwards at Microsoft Virtual Academy.

    Where can I get Visual Studio 2013?

    • Students can download it at no charge at DreamSpark
    • MSDN subscribers can download Visual Studio 2013 today. (Don’t forget startup companies may qualify for free MSDN through BizSpark)
    • Anyone can download the express versions or a trial version at Visual Studio Downloads.
  • Go DevMENTAL

    Learn how to use Unity for Windows 8 and Phone


    Attend the Microsoft Virtual Academy session, or check out the Dojo session to learn how you can take your existing Unity game and bring it to Windows Phone or Windows 8.

    Whether you are using Unity Pro or Unity Free, the add-ons for Windows Phone 8 and Windows Store are available free of charge. So why not give your app or game the maximum possible reach, by bringing it to the Windows store. If you are a student you can even get your store account for free through DreamSpark!

    There are two great sessions to help you learn the ins and outs of taking a Unity game to the Windows store:

    • Live on Microsoft Virtual Academy
    • On Demand at Developer Movement

    Live on Microsoft Virtual Academy

    Join Canada’s own Mickey MacDonald and Bryan Griffiths and learn how to bring your Unity games to the Windows and Windows Phone platforms. You’ll see how easy it is to customize your app to take advantage of the built-in Windows 8.1 features; for example, increase user interaction by using Share and bring users back to your game by updating Live Tiles with the latest high scores or gamer info. If you already have a Unity game in another store and you want to increase downloads/revenue by adding it to the Windows stores, this is where you’ll learn how to do it.

    You will learn

    • Porting Considerations
    • A Dual Run-time Environment
    • Supporting Window 8.1
    • Supporting Windows Phones
    • Using Splash Images
    • Live Tiles

    Watch the event live today December 6, 2013 9AM – 5 PM Pacific. If you miss it, you can watch it later on demand at Microsoft Virtual Academy website afterwards. Don’t forget, if you are a Canadian, you could earn rewards and prizes in the Developer Movement program just by watching a course on Microsoft Virtual Academy!

    On Demand at Developer Movement

    CodeKwondoSquare As part of Canada’s Developer Movement, the code sensei is helping you earn your black belt in coding by providing you with great presentations. You can see all the sessions at the Developer Dojo page on Channel 9. Check out the Developer Dojo session on Unity and Gaming.

    There are two sessions of interest to Unity developers.

    Fun trivia fact: Unity fans might be interested to know that the dojo background used to display the presentation was actually built by the presenter using Unity.

    Introduction to Code Kwondo/A Close look at Unity for Windows 8 and Windows Phone

    In part 1 of this developer dojo, Sensei Jonathan Rozenblit introduces Code Kwondo, the Developer Movement program launching November 2013. Code Sensei Mickey MacDonald then takes you on a close look at Unity and how you can bring in your Unity assets into Visual Studio 2013 to create Windows 8 and Windows Phone versions of your games/apps.

    Unity to Visual Studio to Windows and Windows Phone store

    In part 2 of this developer dojo, Code Sensei Mickey MacDonald baffles Sensei Jonathan Rozenblit when he shows him and the viewers just how easy it is to go from Unity to Visual Studio to the Windows and Windows Phone Stores. Watch this session to get Sensei Mickey's checklist of things to check and do before submitting your game/app for certification and his recap checklist of things to consider before getting deep down into design and code.

  • Go DevMENTAL

    Getting started with DirectX/C++ Gaming


    Getting started with DirectX can be daunting, but there are a couple of new resources out that can help you!

    You won’t master DirectX/C++ game development in a day, but if you want some good resources to help you get rolling, there are two great resources you should check out:

    • Introduction to C++/DirectX Game Development on Microsoft Virtual Academy
    • DirectX/C++ Game Project Template and Getting Started Kit
    • If you do watch or build…you could get rewards!

    Introduction to C++/DirectX Game Development on Microsoft Virtual Academy

    Microsoft Virtual Academy offers a variety of live and recorded sessions on a variety of technologies. Tomorrow, Thursday December 5th, 2013. The session will be available on demand after the event, so if you miss the live date, you don’t have to miss out! Mickey Macdonald and Bryan Griffiths will be doing an introduction to C++/DirectX Game development.

    Mickey & Bryan are well equipped to help you learn about building games from the ground up. They’ll cover topics such as game loops, input detection, basic shaders, and state management.

    Mickey is an indie game developer and also a technical evangelist at Microsoft. Bryan is a video game design instructor at triOS college and has also worked on AAA title as well as smaller indie and web based games.

    Find out more about their session and register here

    DirectX/C++ Game Project Template and Getting Started Kit

    If you are interested in building a DirectX game for the Windows Store, check out the DirectX game learning template. You will find links to download, information about the template and the Getting Started Guide here.

    The learning template extends the basic DirectX app template and adds additional components such as

    • InputManager: Consolidated input from touch, mouse, keyboard, and Xbox controllers. 
    • Virtual analog controls: A basic virtual controller with tracked-touch analog control and digital buttons. 
    • OverlayManager: Add and manage multiple Direct2D overlays for a Direct3D scene.
    • SoundPlayer: Add rudimentary sound effects and play music as background audio. Updates to Direct3D resource management.

    Thanks to Jim Galasyn for the blog post with the information on this great resource!

    If you do watch or build…you could get rewards!

    CodeKwondoSquareIf you are in Canada, register for Developer Movement and you could get rewarded just for watching the session on Microsoft Virtual Academy!

    Publish a game to the Windows 8 or Windows Phone store and earn even bigger rewards!

    Developer Movement is a loyalty program that can get you anything from a t-shirt to an Xbox One or Surface 2! This year’s theme is Code Kwon-do and we want you to earn your belt promotion through coding (in my opinion anyone who is building a DirectX/C++ is obviously going for their black belt!)

    Get all the details and Register today to start earning your rewards! The program expires June 1, 2014.

  • Go DevMENTAL

    Visual Studio Tips and Tricks – Easier debugging with “Just My Code”


    VisualStudioLogoThe Just My Code feature in Visual Studio 2013 makes it easier for you to debug your code in Visual Studio.

    Find more Visual Studio tips and tricks here

    Why do I want this feature?

    Does this story sound familiar? You set a breakpoint in your code. You get to the breakpoint and you hit Step Into (or the <F11> key) to walk through your code and then suddenly you reach a line of code like this one:


     picker.pickSingleFileAsync().done(function (file) {

    Next thing you know, you’ve stepped into the code for the FilePicker asynchronous method call. What you probably wanted to do was step to the next line of your code to check the format of the URL returned so you could make sure you were setting the source property correctly for your image control. Now that you’ve stepped into the system call, you have to either step through all that system code or hit Step Out, and be careful not to hit Step Out too often or you exit the debugger and return to your application and have to start all over.

    This is where the Visual Studio 2013 feature “Just My Code” fits in. When enabled it basically tells the debugger, not to step into system calls. So as you step through your code it really is stepping through *your* code.

    How to Enable/Disable Just My Code

    1. From the menu select Tools | Options
    2. Go to the Debugging node, choose General
    3. Select or clear Enable Just My Code.


    This feature is enabled by default in Visual Studio 2013 and is available in all the editions of Visual Studio 2013 (including the Express editions.)

    If you are using programmatic break statements such as Visual Basic Stop statements, the debugger will always break on these statements, even if Just My Code is enabled.

    You can find the MSDN Documentation of this feature here.

    Where do I get Visual Studio 2013?

    Students can download Visual Studio 2013 Professional at DreamSpark

    MSDN subscribers can download it from MSDN

    Anyone can get express versions of Visual Studio for free or 90 day trials of Visual Studio Professional, Premium, or Ultimate at the Visual Studio downloads center.

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