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Extensibility Benefits 

Visual Studio 2005
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Extensibility Benefits

Glossary Item Box

Overview of Customer Integration Scenarios and Benefits

Extending Visual Studio 2005

Visual Studio 2005 is a powerful development suite that provides an assortment of productivity enhancing development tools (such as designers, editors, explorers, etc.) right out of the box. However, many organizations need to be able to extend their development suites to better meet business needs, streamline processes, and reduce costs. Visual Studio 2005 was designed from the ground up to meet customers’ extensibility needs in three ways:

  1. By providing customers the ability to create, edit, and distribute their own Macros.
  2. By providing customers with a flexible Add-in framework.
  3. By creating a vibrant ecosystem for Industry Partners within which they can provide tightly integrated commercial solutions designed to meet customer needs.


One of the easiest ways for organizations to quickly get the most out of Visual Studio is to extend it through the use of Macros. A special tool bar, the Macro Tool Bar allows developers to record their actions and activities in Visual Studio. Their step by step interaction with Visual Studio is recorded as Visual Basic code which can then be saved, modified, replayed, and even distributed. Support for Macros within Visual Studio 2005 includes a Macro Explorer which lets developers browse, organize, and manage Macros. A specialized Macro Editor allows developers to further modify existing Macros with the aid of Intelllisense. Once recorded and configured, Macros can be bound to menu items, tool bars, and keyboard combinations/shortcuts which makes them very easy to reuse. Macros can even be packaged as Macro Projects which allow organizations to easily and efficiently encapsulate custom solutions designed to handle delicate, repetitive, and specialized tasks.


Another powerful extensibility option available to Visual Studio 2005 customers is the ability to harness the Visual Studio Automation Model through the use of Add-ins. To meet customer needs, Add-ins provide the ability to interact with most of the features and tools found in Visual Studio including code editors, the code model, output and debugging windows, editors, menus, and other commonly used interfaces. Add-ins and macros can both contribute to and use the Automation Model. Add-ins can be implemented in any language, and the Visual Studio Add-in Wizard provides developers with a simple framework within which to place their customized code. Once deployed, developers can toggle Add-ins on and off with the Add-in Manager – allowing them to control to what degree they take advantage of the extensibility provided.

Third Party Offerings

While Macros and Add-ins are a powerful way to easily extend Visual Studio, many organizations may not have resources to dedicate to extending Visual Studio to meet their needs, or they may need more functionality than can be provided by Add-ins and Macros. To account for these cases, the same APIs that were used to create Visual Studio 2005 have been made available to thousands of Industry Partners who are able to target specialized customer concerns with commercial extensions. Visual Studio Industry Partners are able to take advantage of their partnerships with Microsoft to build powerful, integrated, extensions to Visual Studio that meet customer needs – without forcing customers to abandon their investment in Visual Studio. And because Visual Studio has excellent market penetration, literally thousands of partners have been able to succeed in presenting various solutions to end users. This means that the number and type of solutions available to help developers more productive is not only extensive, but constantly growing. To gain a sense of some of the available third party solutions, visit the following link to learn more: