This morning, Microsoft Channel 9 interviewed Mei Liang - Group Manager of Microsoft All-In-One Code Framework - to introduce the newest Sample Browser extension for Visual Studio 2012 &2010. This extension provides a way for developers to search and download more than 4500 code samples from within Visual Studio, including over 700 Windows 8 samples and more than 1000 All-In-One Code Framework customer-driven code samples. Mei shows us not only the extension, but also the standalone version of the Sample Browser.
Microsoft All-In-One Code Framework, working in close partnership with the Visual Studio product team and MSDN Samples Gallery, developed the Sample Browser extension for both Visual Studio 2012 and Visual Studio 2010. As an effort to evolve the code sample use experience and improve developers' productivity, the Sample Browser allows programmers to search, download and open over 4500 code samples from within Visual Studio with just a few simple clicks. If no existing code sample can meet the needs, developers can even request a code sample easily from Microsoft thanks to the free “Sample Request Service” offered by Microsoft All-In-One Code Framework. Through innovations, the teams hope to put the power of tens of thousands of code samples at developers’ fingertips.
In short 3 months, the Sample Browser Visual Studio Extension has been installed by 100K global users. It is also selected as one of the six most highly regarded and commonly used tools for Visual Studio that will make your programming experience feel like never before.
Microsoft All-In-One Code Framework also offers the standalone version of Sample Browser. The standalone version is particularly useful to Visual Studio Express edition or Visual Studio 2008 users, who cannot install the Sample Browser Visual Studio extension.
This Sample Browser has come a very long way improving the code sample use experience. The history can be traced back to a grass-root innovation three years ago. In early 2009, a few MSDN forum support engineers observed that lots of developers were struggling to work in Visual Studio without adequate code samples. Programming tasks seem harder than they should be when you only read through the documentation. Just a couple of lines of sample code could answer a lot of questions. They had a brilliant idea: What if we produce code samples based on developers’ frequently asked programming tasks in forums, social networks and support incidents, and then aggregate all our sample code in a one-stop library to benefit developers? And what if developers can request code samples directly from Microsoft, free of charge? This small group of grassroots at Microsoft devoted their nights and weekends to prototyping such a customer-driven code sample library. This simple idea eventually turned into “Microsoft All-In-One Code Framework”, aka. OneCode. With the support from more and more passionate developers at Microsoft and the leaders in the Community and Online Support team and Microsoft Commercial Technical Services (CTS), the idea has become a continually growing library with over 1000 customer-driven code samples covering almost all Microsoft development technologies.
These code samples originated from developers’ common pains and needs should be able to help many developers. However, if developers cannot easily discover the code samples, the effort would still be in vain. So in early 2010, the team started the idea of Sample Browser to ease the discovery and access of these samples. In just two months, the first version of Sample Browser was finished and released by a passionate developer. It was a very simple application, only supporting the basic sample offline search. Users had to download the whole 100MB sample package containing all samples first, and run the Sample Browser to search locally. Though developers could not search and download samples on-demand, this simple application laid a solid foundation for the team’s continuous innovations of Sample Browsing experience.
In 2011, MSDN Samples Gallery had a big refresh. The online sample experience was brought to a new level thanks to its PM Steven Wilssens and the gallery team’s effort. Microsoft All-In-One Code Framework Team saw the opportunity to realize the “on-demand” sample search and download feature with the new gallery. The two teams formed a strong partnership to upload all the customer-driven code samples to MSDN Samples Gallery, and released the new version of Sample Browser to support “on-demand” sample downloading in April, 2011. Mei Liang, the Group Manager of Microsoft All-In-One Code Framework, was interviewed by Channel 9 to demo the Sample Browser. Customers love the effort and the innovation!! This can be clearly seen from the user comments in the publishing page. It was very encouraging to the team of All-In-One Code Framework.
The team continues innovating and evolving the Sample Browser. They found the Visual Studio product team this time, and integrated the Sample Browsing experience into the latest Visual Studio 2012. The newly released Sample Browser Visual Studio extension makes good use of Visual Studio 2012 IDE such as the new Quick Launch bar, the code editor, the toolbar and menus to offer easy access to thousands of code samples from within the development environment. The Visual Studio Senior Program Manager Lead - Anthony Cangialosi, the Program Manager - Murali Krishna Hosabettu Kamalesha, the MSDN Samples Gallery PM – Steven Wilssens, and the Visual Studio Senior Escalation Engineer - Ed Dore shared lots of insightful suggestions with the team. Thanks to the brilliant cross-group collaboration inside Microsoft, tens of new features including “Local Language Support” and “Favorite Samples”, as well as a face-lifted user interface, were added to further enhance the user experience.
Since the new Sample Browser Visual Studio extension was released, it has received over 100 thousand downloads and five-star ratings. A customer told the team that he officially falls in LOVE with Microsoft All-In-One Code Framework.
The teams would never stop improving the Sample Browser for developers’ easier lives. The Microsoft All-In-One Code Framework, Visual Studio and MSDN Samples Gallery teams are working closely to develop the next version of Sample Browser. Here are the key functions in development or in discussion. We hope to learn your feedback of the effort. You can submit your suggestions to the official Visual Studio UserVoice site. We look forward to hearing from you! 1) Offline Sample Search
This is one of the top feature requests that we have received for Sample Browser. The Sample Browser will support the offline search mode so that developers can search downloaded code samples when they do not have internet access. This is particularly useful to developers in Enterprises with strict proxy settings.
2) Code Snippet Support and Visual Studio Editor Integration
Today, the Sample Browser supports downloading and opening sample project. However, when developers are searching for code samples, a better user experience would be to see the code snippets in the search result first. Developers can quickly decide if the code snippet is relevant. They can also drag and drop the code snippet into the Visual Studio Editor to solve some simple programming tasks. If developers want to learn more about the sample, they can then choose to download the sample project and open it in Visual Studio.
3) Enterprise Sample Sharing and Searching
Large enterprises have many code samples for their own internal tools and APIs that are not appropriate to be shared publicly in MSDN Samples Gallery. In that case, today’s Sample Browser and MSDN Samples Gallery cannot help these Enterprise developers. The idea is to create a Code Sample Repository in TFS, and provide an additional Visual Studio extension for Enterprise developers to quickly share code samples to TFS. The Sample Browser can be configured to connect to the TFS Code Sample Repository to search for and download code samples. This would potentially enable the Enterprise developers to be more productive.
4) Windows Store Sample Browser
With the upcoming release of Windows RT and Microsoft Surface, developers are facing a completely new world of application platform. Not like laptop, people would often use Microsoft Surface in commute and in travel. Internet may not be available. Today’s Visual Studio cannot be installed and run on Windows RT, however, our enthusiastic developers would hope to spend every minute on code. They love code! The idea is to create a Windows Store version of Sample Browser.
Search and download samples from the online Samples Gallery when the user has internet access.
Browse the sample code files and learn the sample documentation of downloaded samples with or without internet access. In addition to the "browse” function, the Sample Browser could further support “bookmark”, “learning notes”, “code review”, and “quick social sharing".
Make full use of the new touch and Windows Store App UI to give developers a new “relaxing” code browsing and learning experience, anytime, anywhere.
With Windows Store Sample Browser, developers can enjoy
A new relaxing and enjoyable experience for developers to learn code samples You do not have to sit in front of desk and formally open Visual Studio to read code samples. Many developers get sub-health due to staying in front of desk for a very long time. With Windows RT, Microsoft Surface and this Windows Store Sample Browser combining with the online MSDN Samples Gallery, developers can sit in a sofa, relaxingly hold the tablet and enjoy to learn their beloved sample code with detailed documentation.
Anytime, anywhere Whether you have internet access or not, whether you are at home, in office, or in commute/airplane, developers can always easily access and browse the sample code.
Lightweight and fast Particularly for learning a small sample project, the Windows Store Sample Browser would be more lightweight and faster to open and browse the sample code.
Please submit your feedback and suggestion to Visual Studio UserVoice. We look forward to hearing from you and deliver a better and better sample use experience. Happy Coding!
Special Thanks to People working behind the latest release of Sample Browser Visual Studio Extension and the great partnerships!
congrats and thanks for the shout-out! :)
Now lets see if I can get this included in this week's This Week on Channel 9... :)
Greg, thank you!! :)
Thank you for the sharing!