Feature Builder is a Power Tool for Visual Studio 2010 (preview) which helps you easily create rich Visual Studio extensions. These extensions include tools (Visual Studio automation), code (your sample code or binaries you wish to share with others) and a map (a set of steps your users will want to follow to get the best experience with your extension). You can use this power tool to quickly package up sample code with custom menus, or take the time to create complete automated guidance experiences targeted toward a specific technology. You can share your extension with users by distributing a .vsix file, or posting to the Visual Studio Gallery.

You can create two different kinds of extensions using Feature Builder. A standard Feature Extension can contain tools, code, and a simple map - it will run on the Visual Studio Premium and Visual Studio Professional editions (in the final version of this tool). A more advanced extension, called an Ultimate Feature Extension, can contain everything a feature extension can contain, as well as rich modeling and visualization tools that can take advantage of the modeling platform inside the Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate edition (required). These tools can be used to provide a logical view of your target solution, and to visualize your existing code. This is the preferred type of extension to use if you intend to provide architectural guidance or share specific refactoring or pattern knowledge.

 

This preview requires Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2, Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate Edition, and the installation of the Visual Studio SDK (RC1 Version) to build Feature Extensions. The Feature Extensions you create have the same requirements except for the SDK. The RTM version of this tool will require Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate Edition to create Feature Extensions, but will allow you to create Feature Extensions which do not require the Ultimate Edition to run.

 

For more information about this power tool, here is the description from the landing page in the VS Gallery (http://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/396c5990-6356-41c0-aa20-af4c3e58c7ae) :

 

An introductory video (which includes a "hello world" example) is available on Channel 9: http://channel9.msdn.com/tags/FeatureBuilder .

 

Additional information and support will be available via the Visual Studio 2010 Architectural Discovery & Modeling Tools Forum  

 

This tool was produced by the Visual Studio product group in collaboration with patterns & practices, the Developer Platform Evangelism group, and Microsoft Consulting Services.