Occasionally, Dr. Ex and his associates are asked where developers can get assistance with issues related to the Visual Studio SDK, and Add-in development.

In actuality, there are a number of support options available for customers with questions and/or problems pertaining to extending or automating the Visual Studio environment. Be it macro programming, COM automation, Add-in development or VS package authoring, we have a support option for you.

First the free stuff:

The MSDN Visual Studio Extensibility Development Center should be one of the first places you visit for general information. This site contains many resources that may help address any questions or problems that you may have about extending the Visual Studio environment. For example, there are a number of links to Visual Studio Extensibility Videos, Visual Studio SDK Team member blogs, and articles that contain additional information not found in the product documentation.

If you have a specific question that is not covered by materials from the Extensibility Development Center, then you should make use of the MSDN Forums as your primary source of getting support. The MSDN Forums are a great resource for our customers to research FAQs and problems. The information garnered there is archived and searchable. In particular, the Visual Studio Extensibility Forum is where you will frequently find Visual Studio  developers, managers and support staff answering questions related to Visual Studio Extensibility. This is also the center of a growing community of developers and MVPs who also actively participate in the discussions and questions posted to this forum.

If you are an Alliance or Premier member in the VSIP program, you should definitely make use of our quarterly Developer Labs.  They are an excellent way to engage with the VS SDK team directly for high-touch one-on-one help. Invitations to the Developer Labs are provided as a membership benefit at no cost.

Paid support options:

Microsoft maintains a dedicated support team to help address problems and questions pertaining to Visual Studio Extensibility. Some Visual Studio products include a number of free support incidents (http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio.support).

MSDN subscription packages may also include a number of support incidents with purchase (http://msdn.microsoft.com/subscriptions/support/technical). Note, a 1-year MSDN subscription is provided to all Premier and Alliance level VSIP partners, and this subscription includes 4 pre-paid support incidents. See http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/vstudio/aa700860.aspx for details.

Support incidents can also be purchased through a variety of support offerings available under the ‘Developer Tools’ category on the following site (http://support.microsoft.com/select).

Please note that standard support incidents cannot be used for issues that are advisory or consultative in nature. Issues involving a deep level of integration via the Visual Studio SDK can be quite complex and we recommend customers authoring non-trivial VS packages consider purchasing a separate Premier Support contract with Microsoft. For smaller companies, the new Partner Advantage Support offering may be an attractive alternative to the larger Premier Support offering.

Information on pricing of individual support requests, which can be submitted via email or phone, can be found on the following web site: http://support.microsoft.com/oas/default.aspx?gprid=3040 . Questions concerning Premier Support offerings in conjunction with the VSIP program can be sent to vsipsvs@microsoft.com. And questions concerning the Premier Advantage program can be sent to advantg@microsoft.com.