Community Component Essentials
A community component is a custom file or set of files that has been packaged so that it can be shared with other developers who use Visual Studio. Examples of community components are starter kits, add-ins, project item templates, and IntelliSense code snippets. From Visual Studio, you can search for community components that others have created and then download and install them for your own use. Community components are installed on a developer's computer by using the Visual Studio Content Installer, so that they appear in the appropriate dialog box or window in Visual Studio. You can also create your own community component to share with others.
A custom file or set of files that has been packaged in a way that enables the files to be shared among developers and installed for use in Visual Studio. Community components can contain starter kits, controls, add-ins, IntelliSense code snippets, or project item templates.
An XML file, based on the Visual Studio Content Installer Schema Reference, that defines the kind of component you have created, and also other information. For example, you can specify which versions of Visual Studio a component can be used in.
A .zip file that has the extension .vsi that contains the .vscontent file and also the files for the component. The .vsi file is the file that you post on community Web sites or send to friends and co-workers who want to use your component. Double-clicking a .vsi file starts the Visual Studio Content Installer.
Visual Studio Content Installer
A wizard that copies the files in a .vsi file to the correct locations on disk so the component is available for use in Visual Studio.
If you have Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Studio 2008 installed on the same computer, there are some issues to consider.
If you migrate your Visual Studio 2005 settings to Visual Studio 2008 when you first start Visual Studio 2008, no custom code snippets, add-ins, macros, or toolbox controls will be migrated. To migrate these items to Visual Studio 2008, re-install each component by double-clicking the .vsi file for the component.
If you install a community component designed by using Visual Studio 2005, the component will automatically be installed for use with both Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Studio 2008.
Depending on its design, a community component created by using Visual Studio 2005 might not work in Visual Studio 2008 and vice versa.
If you author community components by using Visual Studio 2008, you can specify whether you intend the component to be installed for use with Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Studio 2008 or just with Visual Studio 2008. For more information, see How to: Package Community Components to Use the Visual Studio Content Installer.
How do I find and install a community component?
You can search for community components from Help. MSDN Online and Codezone Community are the only types of search results that contain community components. For more information, see How to: Find Community Components.
Once you have located a community component, you can download it to your computer and then install it. For more information, see How to: Install Community Components.
How do I package my files to create a community component?
To package your component for distribution as a community component, you must create two additional files: a .vscontent file and a .vsi file. The .vscontent file is an XML file that contains information to identify the type of component being shared.
After you create the .vscontent file, you compress it together with the files that make up the component into a .zip file. Then you change the .zip file name extension to .vsi, the file type recognized by the Visual Studio Content Installer. To share the .vsi file, you can post it to the Internet or a network share, or use e-mail to send it to specific recipients. For more information, see How to: Package Community Components to Use the Visual Studio Content Installer.