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Important This document may not represent best practices for current development, links to downloads and other resources may no longer be valid. Current recommended version can be found here.

Community Component Essentials 

A community component is a custom file or set of files that has been packaged so it can be shared with other developers who use Visual Studio. Examples of community components are starter kits, controls, add-ins, project item templates, and IntelliSense code snippets. From within Visual Studio, you can search for community components that others have created and download and install them for your own use. Community components are installed on a developer's computer using the Visual Studio Content Installer, so that they appear in the appropriate dialog box or window in Visual Studio. You also can create your own community component to share with others.

Common Terms

Term Definition

Community component

A custom file or set of files that has been packaged in a way that allows 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.

.vscontent file

An XML file, based on the Visual Studio Content Installer Schema Reference, that defines the type of component you have created.

.vsi file

A .zip file with the extension .vsi that contains the .vscontent file as well as the files for the component. The .vsi file is the file you post on community web sites or send to friends and co-workers who want to use your component. Double-clicking a .vsi file launches 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 from within Visual Studio.

How do I find and install a community component?

You can search for community components from within Visual Studio using the Community Search option on the Community menu. You also 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 along with the files that make up the component into a .zip file. Then you change the .zip file 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 email to send it to specific recipients. For more information, see How to: Package Community Components to Use the Visual Studio Content Installer.

See Also

Community Additions

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