Toolbox Search

Toolbox Search

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me_small Hi, my name’s Josh and I’m a developer on the VS Shell team.  Among other things, I’m responsible for the Toolbox.  In VS 2010 Beta2, we’ve added the ability to search for controls in the toolbox by name.  To use it, put focus in the toolbox (by clicking in it, for example) and start typing the name of the control you want to find.  As you type, the selection will move to the next item that matches what you've typed so far.  The text you've typed is shown in the status bar, like this:


You can hit Backspace if you mistyped a character, or Tab to go to the next match for the current string.  To cancel the search, you can hit Escape, move the selection, or click on another window.

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  • Wow! what a nice hidden feature. I like it ^_^

  • Could you please add "collapse all" option in toolbox contextmenu, to collapse all the expanded entries in toolbox?.

  • Why some of the groups doesn't have "Pointer" item in toolbox?

  • ice: you can collapse all the groups by pressing "/" (and you can expand them all with "*").

    msdnjohn: all groups have a "Pointer" item, but it's only shown if there are other enabled items in the same group (except for the "General" group, which is exempted from this rule).


  • This is fantastic, what a great little time saver :-)

  • Hey Josh, this is a fantastic feature - but I have to be honest. I just looked at the toolbox and said "Oh come on, these guys still have not implemented search for toolbox!" *angryface*

    I still believe that a simple text box that filters the contents would have been much better. Here is why:

    1. Easier to discover. To use search as it is in Beta2 YOU HAVE TO KNOW IT EXISTS. Since the toolbox does not even look close to a standard control that is not something people will expect.

    2. Similarity. Having a text box with a magnifier glass icon would be much similar how search is exposed in other areas as well, such as in the New Project dialog, Extension Manager, XML Schema Explorer, Windows Explorer, IE etc.

    3. Easier to use. You can see what you have typed, you can easily fix typos and you reset the search by just clicking the X icon the mangnifier glass has been turned into after typing text.

    Did you implement the search intentionally that way or was it just schedule pressure?

    Given that search feature demands are quite popular on Connect and several people in blogs and forums have always complaint about I have to say that I am kind of dissapointed that search is still not as pervasive in VS 2010 as it could be. I think the most important areas are:

    - Toolbox

    - Add Reference Dialog

    You guys at Microsoft might not have many toolbox items but in the wild poeple are heavily using component suites from e.g. DevExpress, Infragistics, Dundas and many more. This results in virtually hundreds of items. Search is essential to be productive in the designer. In most cases you even know the name of the component but you still have to locate it to be able to click it. Sometimes you do not know the name. In that case substring search is the only way to find the relevant items.

    Same goes for the Add Reference dialog. The .NET and COM is almost unusable without search. The normal list box keyboard search uses prefix search but only in the first column. In a lot of cases I know the Assembly Name but the first column shows the Assembly Description. Same goes for COM. As outlined by Rico Mariani the VS team spent a fair amount of time to optimize this dialog for perf. Adding a text box with search would not have added much additional work but would make a big difference in usability.

    If you want to create a huge applause for presenting VS simply add a text box for searching in the Toolbox and Add Reference window. I guarantee you people will give you a standing ovation.

  • Immo: thank you for the detailed feedback.  I fully agree with you, and in fact, pervasive searchability throughout the IDE (with a textbox + magnifier icon in (almost) every tool window and dialog) was on the list of features we wanted to add to dev10.  Unfortunately, there simply weren't enough resources to do it for this release.  I hope that we can provide a better search experience in a future release.


  • Immo, I totally agree with you.

    I've talked to Karen Liu on the TechEd Europe Event 2 years go about this issue.

    There is someting completely wrong with the product management if they do not understand that this is a really important feature. And to be honest , as it is just a visual filter thing, should not be rocket science to implement.

    Even in Delphi 7 (which is 10 years old) I am able to filter the toolbox (with a free third party add in :-)

    Please guys, no resources for this ??


  • Functionality required, but is incomplete. The ideal would be the search filter mode, only displaying the components containing typed letters.

  • "Unfortunately, there simply weren't enough resources to do it for this release.  I hope that we can provide a better search experience in a future release."

    That's what Jobs can talk about the lack of resources iPad.

  • Jose, I agree with you -- I would have liked for us to do more here in VS10, and I had a plan that incorporated filtering as you describe.  We're going to revisit searching and filtering in VS11 (in more places than just the toolbox) and I will certainly try to deliver an experience in that release that doesn't feel "incomplete".


  • ice: you can collapse all the groups by pressing "/" (and you can expand them all with "*").

    "/" Don't works in version 10.0.21006.1 B2Rel*

  • in vs 2010 so you finally noticed that this is important to have !!!!

    my impression that a bunch of really genius people making vs to miss a feature like that !!

  • Hi, nice to know you develop VS 2010 toolbox. I'm face with toolbox problem that very important with my project. So, can you please contact with me and help me solve that problem. My email:

    Hope to see you response.

    Thank you.

  • There is one other feature that would be really useful.  If I'm working in WinForms, only show the WinForms controls.  If I'm working in ASP, only show the relevant controls.  If silverlight....

    I agree with the comment above - by the time you install a couple of versions of DevExpress, Infragisitics, etc the toolbox becomes completely unmanageable, and just finding the right controls is by far the slowest part of development.  

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