This is the first monthly letter to the VSX community from the VSX (Visual Studio Extensibility) team at Microsoft. In case you are new here to the VSX Team Blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/vsxteam), the VSX team is also known as the Visual Studio Tools Ecosystem team. This month's letter includes information about what the VS SDK team has been working on in the past month, what's new on team blogs, what's new on the VSX developer center, links to new VSX how-to videos, VSX community news, new cool VSX logo graphic image, and a preview of what's coming next month.

Starting the Summer of SDK Love

Our team has been busy over the past month. First, we released the VS Orcas SDK June CTP. Then, several team members like Aaron Marten, Doug Hodges, Ken Levy, Anthony Cangialosi and Paolo Codato attended TechEd 2007 Orlando in early June to talk and meet about Visual Studio Extensibility (VSX) with VSIP partners and .NET developers. One of our most active VSX community members, Don Demsak, was also there to talk about his VSX project called XPathmania in a general session. Craig Skibo has been busy working on the Visual Studio 2008 Shell (isolated mode). We are aiming to release a preview release of the VS 2008 Shell (isolated mode) later in the summer. Our announcement at TechEd of its imminent release has sparked a lot of interest. Our engineering team just completed a 2-week bug fixing exercise where we fixed over 50 bugs in the VS SDK. Our summer program manager intern from Harvard University, Brittany Behrens, just started a couple weeks ago. She is currently working on a new VS SDK Browser dynamic update feature that you will see in the near future.

Visual Studio 2008 Shell, in a nutshell

There are several overview and technical videos on the new VS 2008 Shell announced at TechEd, filter on the VS Shell tag on the VSX Team blog. Special thanks to our team's group product manager Joe Marini who said "the VS Shell, in a nutshell" off the cuff (not pre-planned) in a TechEd video interview (A Closer Look at the Visual Studio Shell) resulting in several team members repeating that priceless phrase in other team videos clips on the topic of the Shell. We've been thinking of creating a demo for the VS Shell for isolated mode creating a custom branded Visual Studio Nutshell. We may have to find a way to get the VSX logo on a real nutshell cracker tool for Joe.

All roads lead to the VS SDK

In case you missed it, we recently posted our roadmap for the VS SDK for 2007, see VS SDK Roadmap for June 2007. There is lots of detail and transparency there, and one key highlight to note is our plans to add Visual Basic support to the code output wizards, add VB code samples, add VB sample code to the docs (for both the existing VS SDK for 2005 and the upcoming VS SDK for VS 2008).

Channel surfin' videos on the VSX Team blog

Here is a summary of the blog entries posted here on the VSX Team blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/vsxteam/) over the past month or so (in order of most recent first), many including short video clip interviews within the blog post.

Growing blog list of VSX team members   

Our VSX team member's blog listing has been updated on the VSX Team Blog home page and http://msdn.com/vsx developer center and here on the http://blogs.msdn.com/vsxteam blog, here is the updated list:

Here's a quick blog summary from the team for the last month or so. James has been blogging details about VS SDK for Orcas Beta 1 and a new BlackBerry plug-in for Visual Studio. Craig has been blogging about Visual Studio Shell architecture and Add-ins. Allen Denver has left our team to join a brand new team, but his blog link remains listed since many of his archived blog posts are useful for developers learning the VS SDK. Deep has been blogging about the new VS Shell and the new VS SDK Code Name "Orcas" June CTP. Aaron has been blogging about Developing Packages as a Normal User and configuring UAC on Vista, the VS Shell, and the free CodePlex community project called VSSDK Assist which he showed at the team's chalk talk session at TechEd. I (Ken) blog here and have been posting some references to what I've been posting on the VSX Team blog as well as other random technology topics.

Watch VSX how-to videos on a computer, mobile device, or Xbox 360

A new site called "How Do I?" Videos for Visual Studio Extensibility has been created with videos on specific topics of how to extend the Visual Studio platform. We will be adding new How-To videos regularly. Not only can you now download the code for each video demo, but now the videos are in various formats (WMV | iPod | MP4 | 3GP | Zune | PSP), or you can download audio only in various formats (AAC | WMA | MP2 | MP3 | MP4). RSS feed for the How-to videos on VSX can be subscribed from this new page. There are many other how-to video topics listed on the page in the right navigation area as part of a new how-to growing series of videos being published in these formats. Tip for Xbox 360 owners: Copy the WMV or MP4 format files to a USB memory card or FAT32 portable hard drive to watch the videos on your TV using an Xbox 360.

Visual Studio Extensibility Developer Center getting a face lift

The VSX Developer Center at http://msdn.com/vsx has recently been updated (home page only). In mid July, expect to see the entire site updated along with a new UX/UI (similar to that found on some of the other tools and languages dev centers such as the VB dev center at http://msdn.com/vbasic, with the new colored top navigation menu and more technical/community focus). The DSL Tools site at http://msdn.com/vstudio/dsltools will be more integrated into the msdn.com/vsx dev center as part of the July update as well. The http://msdn.com/vsip site will also be updated sometime in July. We are also working with our friends at JupiterMedia on updating their http://devx.com/vsx/ web site to be in sync with our latest news and content, so check out the additional information partner and developer resources published there.

Howdy Partner,  check out the catalog ya'll

If you haven't checked it out, visit the Visual Studio Partner Catalog where you can find products, plug-ins, and components which integrate and work with Visual Studio. For more information about the VSIP program, check out http://msdn.com/vsip.

VSSDK Assist

VSSDK Assist (formerly called VSIP Factory) is a visual toolset of utilities for extending Visual Studio. Created by VSX community expert Pablo Galiano of Clarius Consulting, VSSDK Assist is an open community project that complements and assists developing with the VS SDK. Pablo recently blogged about it: Visual Studio Extensibility got easier. On a related note, Victor Garcia Aprea of Clarius Consulting recently blogged about VSX: Dreaming of a huge Visual Studio Community.

XPathmania

For those working with XML in Visual Studio, Don Demsak created XPathmania. The XML Team at Microsoft recently blogged about it: DonXML has built a really cool tool called XPathmania. Also, check out this blog post from Don about XPathmania.

VSMessenger

VSMessenger is an ongoing sample application created by Mike K. Campbell showcasing Visual Studio extensibility.

VSSDK.com

http://vssdk.com is a technical blog (with some video screencast demos) related to the VS SDK and various VSX topics. VSSDK.com also contains additional technical information about the VSMessenger project.

VSX logo symbolizes perpetual VSX community revolution

Checkout the details and several variations of our new VSX logo graphic image posted in the VSX team blog entry: VSX logo symbolizes perpetual VSX community revolution.

Next month

If you have been following how our team operates, you would know that we use the scrum development methodology. We just did our sprint planning last week, and we will be releasing our next release targeting VS 2008 Beta 2 at the end of July or early August. One of the big work items we are working towards this sprint is WPF Designer integration for our IronPython sample. This is an important piece of work since WPF tooling is a core scenario for VS 2008 (codename “Orcas”). There will also be many other enhancements and updates in the next VS SDK release. 

As always, we welcome your feedback. Please send your VS SDK feedback to us via vssdkfbk@microsoft.com, or post a technical question in the MSDN Forum for VSX. For VSX community ideas and feedback, feel free email me directly via klevy@microsoft.com or using the Email link on my blog.


Ken Levy
Program Manager
Visual Studio Tools Ecosystem
Microsoft
http://blogs.msdn.com/klevy
http://msdn.com/vsx