This month's letter includes information about what the VSX team has been working on in the past few months, event news on VSX, some new VSX projects released, more VSX content online, and a preview of what's coming next month.

What's new with the VSX team

The team has been busy (not counting the holidays) since we released Visual Studio 2008 SDK 1.0 and Visual Studio 2008 Shell in late November. After our version 1.0 release, we plan on continuing to release subsequent releases of the VS SDK that targets VS 2008. Our current plan is to release the next VS 2008 SDK around April. The team is currently in full planning and development mode for VS Service Pack 1 as well as the next VS SDK. We see future versions of the VS SDK to include more productivity tools for extending VS (what we sometimes refer to as tools for building tools, or VSX Tools). The team is also going to continue to work on a more seamless development experience for creating VS Shell instances with the VS SDK, and as always we work on fixing various VS SDK bugs we find as well as those reported.

We have a new program manager on the VS Ecosystem team named Quan To. Check out Quan To's Blog. Quan is new to our team but not new to Microsoft. He will be working on the VS SDK releases. Quan's first blog post on VSX is How do I programmatically unload a project from a solution?. If you are in the Seattle area for Seattle Code Camp January 26-27, you will be able to meet Quan and many others on the VSX team during and after the VSX session on January 27th (see details in the VSX event section below).

Dr. eX, resident expert on anything to do with VSX, now posts here on the VSX team blog with a new tag: VSX Team Blog tagged Dr. eX. The archived Dr. eX Blog is still a useful reference to past technical pasts. Our VSX team blog web views and RSS feeds here has become ranked in the top 2% of all blogs on blogs.msdn.com, and we wanted more exposure for Dr. eX's blog posts as well as more technical content here on our team blog. Expect to see regular blog posts monthly from Dr. eX to add to the news and other information here. Check out Dr. eX's first blog post here: Dr. eX: How can I programmatically add a database connection to the server explorer toolwindow with my add-in?.

The team at Microsoft who works on the VS SDK documentation has created their own team blog for VSX documentation related topics. The VSX UE (User Education) team blog can be found at http://blogs.msdn.com/vsxue/, and there are some in depth blog posts there to start it off for developers getting started with the VS SDK as well as developing for the new VS 2008 Shell. For more details, refer to New VSXUE Team Blog from the VSX documentation team.

DSL Tools roadmap

Stuart Kent posted some details about our roadmap for DSL tools, check out DSL Tools beyond VS2008. For a great open source example of a DSL tools based project combined with our new free VS 2008 Shell runtime, check out the Storyboard Designer project on CodePlex including a screencast demo video (on the Releases tab page).

VSX team job openings

There is a lot of exciting activity going on at Microsoft around the future of extensibility for Visual Studio. We have many job openings on the VS Ecosystem team at Microsoft, both in Redmond, WA and in Cambridge, UK. For details, check out Gareth Jones' (our team's developer lead) blog post Hiring for DSL Tools and Visual Studio eXtensibility in both Cambridge and Redmond for the details.

VSX at events

In November, we had most of our team attend various developer events worldwide. Myself and a few others were at VS DevConnections Vegas in Las Vegas, while a good portion of our team was at TechEd Europe. James Lau, Aaron Marten, and I were at DevTeach Vancouver, and VSX was the topic of the keynote.

For a summary as well as slide + sample content from our VSX sessions at DevTeach, check out VSX keynote at DevTeach 2007 Vancouver summary and slides and VSX sessions at DevTeach 2007 Vancouver summary and slides.

VSX community member Alan Stevens spoke at a VSX session at DevLink in Nashville, TN and was interviewed, see Alan Stevens talks VSX on Channel 9 Code To Live.

For VSIP program members, we have a VSIP Developer Clinic next month here February 4-5 in Redmond, WA.

We have two VSX related sessions scheduled at the Seattle Code Camp on January 26-27 in Redmond, WA.
  • VSX: Extend Your Visual Studio Development Experience
    Visual Studio provides a great set of development tools out of the box, and extending your platform with additional functionality brings you the benefits of the expanding VS ecosystem. Fasten your seat belt and get ready for a demo-centric roller coaster ride touring the end to end story around extending Visual Studio. From adding free or commercial extensions to VS, to building your own simple extensions for your own use, to distributing integrated packages to others for free, to creating a business or commercial product for VS developers, to innovating applications based on the new VS Shell royalty and license free. VSX, a shortcut name for Visual Studio Extensibility, represents the community which is a virtual and growing ecosystem that includes the VS SDK, all aspects of extending VS (packages, add-ins, macros, visualizers), .NET developers who extend VS, VSIP (Visual Studio Industry Partner) program companies, and the VS SDK team (also known as the VSX team or the VS Tools Ecosystem team). This session will include many of the members from the Microsoft VSX team demonstrating various developer-centric demos (no slides) on extending VS with great free utilities as well as creating custom VS extensions.
    Track: Core .NET
    Speaker: Ken Levy
    Sunday January 27th, 1:30pm-2:45p
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  • Domain-Specific Development with Visual Studio DSL Tools
    Domain-Specific Language Models are a powerful technique for embodying in a tool the abstractions specific to the software your business is building and guidance on how to use them with your own frameworks. In this session we’ll examine the domain-specific development pattern, see how to build a simple graphical language from scratch, how to make it domain-specific and finally how to add architectural guidance directly to the tool.
    Track: Core .NET
    Speaker: Gareth Jones

On Saturday evening January 26th from 6:30pm to whenever, there is a Seattle Code Camp Geek Dinner at the Crossroads Mall Food Court.

.NET Rocks! podcast: Ken Levy on Visual Studio Extensibility (VSX)

Audio podcast NET Rocks show #303: Ken Levy on Visual Studio Extensibility (VSX) is now online.

Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell talk VSX with me. A good part of the new hour interview covers topics discussed in the VSX keynote from DevTeach Vancouver mentioned above.

If you don't already subscribe to .NET Rocks!, you can download an MP3 or WMA version of this audio podcast interview, both are 43MB files.


MSDN Webcast on VSX

We have several webcasts on MSDN on the topic of VSX in January. If you don't participate in the live webcast, the video and audio will be available on demand about a day after the event at MSDN On-Demand Webcasts and we will post a link to each VSX webcast online once they are available.

More How-to videos for VSX online

As of today, we have to 22 videos on VSX at "How Do I?" Videos for Visual Studio Extensibility. If you have suggestions for future VSX topics, please let me know.

VSX team blogs

Here is an updated list of our various team member blogs (also listed on the VSX Team Blog home page here):

VS extension tips of the month

Check out SaphireSteel's new Ruby on Rails IDE based on VS 2008 Shell for the first commercial product based on the new VS 2008 Shell.

We are also three free open source applications online:

For some additional technical information on the VS 2008 Shell, check out some of Pablo Galiano's VS Shell recent blog posts and this VSX Forum post.

Next month

In next month's letter, we will have more team news, a summary of the updated Visual Studio Extensibility Developer Center at http://msdn.com/vsx scheduled for later this month, more content  online including new video webcasts with demos as well as webcast presentations on VSX from recent events. Next month will also include more details of our plans for upcoming versions of the VS SDK as news about new parts of msdn.com that relate to VSX content.

Please send your feedback to us via the Contact link on any of our team member blogs, or post a technical question in the MSDN Forum for VSX. You can also email me directly at 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