The integrated development environment (IDE) contains two basic window types: tool windows and document windows. These two window types behave in slightly different ways.
Tool windows and document windows cannot be grouped together in the IDE.
Tool windows are listed on the View menu and are defined by the current application and its add-ins.
You can arrange tool windows in the IDE to:
- Show or hide automatically
- Tab link with other tool windows
- Dock against the edges of the IDE
- Float over
- Display on other monitors
In addition, you can display more than one instance of certain tool windows at a time. For example, you could display more than one Web browser window. You can create another instance of a tool window by choosing New Window on the Window menu. Also, you can determine how the Close and Auto Hide buttons affect a group of tool windows docked together.
Document windows are dynamically created when you open or create files or other items. The list of open document windows appears in the Window menu in the current z-order, with the top-most window listed first.
The ways in which you manage your document windows depends greatly upon the interface mode selected on the General page of the Environment folder in the Options dialog box. You can choose to work in either Multiple Document Interface (MDI) or Tabbed Documents mode. Experiment with these settings to create a document editing environment that satisfies your needs and preferences.
In Tabbed Mode, you can make document windows dockable or undockable by selecting or clearing Dockable on the Window menu. In MDI mode, document windows are undockable.
Tip Some document windows within the IDE are actually tool windows that have the dockable trait turned off. To dock these windows, choose Dockable from the Window menu.
Windows can be arranged into cascading stacks or tiled only in MDI mode.
Tab Groups are available only in Tabbed Documents mode. They extend your ability to manage limited workspace while working with two or more open documents in the IDE. You can organize multiple document windows into either vertical or horizontal Tab Groups and easily shuffle documents from one Tab Group to another.
Tip Tabbed documents can be dragged around the IDE by their tabs.
When you find yourself needing to be in two places at once in a document, viewing script in the HEAD of an html document while debugging code in the BODY for example, split windows are useful.
To divide your document into two independently scrolling sections, choose Split from the Window menu. Select Remove Split from the Window menu to eliminate it.
In addition, you can choose to have a document window behave like a Web browser by displaying each new document as it is opened within the same window. Choose the option Re-use current document window, if saved, which is available on the General page under the Environment folder in the Options dialog box.
Note Newly opened documents will use the same window as long as the document currently open has not been changed.
Displaying help topics in windows
Help topics can be displayed internally or externally. These options are available on the Help page under the Environment folder in the Options dialog box.
Note Changes to these settings do not take affect until the IDE is restarted.
Internal help launches Help topics in a Web browser window inside the IDE. Internal help windows are dockable, floating and can be auto hidden like other tool windows. Using internal help is recommended for situations where you will be accessing help topics on an as-needed basis.
External help launches Help topics in an external application, the Microsoft Document Explorer. Topic and tool windows such as Contents and Index can be docked and hidden in the MSDN Library. However, these windows cannot be auto hidden or docked in the Visual Studio .NET IDE. Using external help is recommended when you wish to study the contents of the MSDN Library in greater depth.