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Walkthrough: Using a Shell Command with an Editor Extension

From a VSPackage, you can add features such as menu commands to the editor. This walkthrough shows how to add an adornment to a text view in the editor by invoking a menu command.

This walkthrough demonstrates the use of a VSPackage together with a Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) component part. You must use a VSPackage to register the menu command with the Visual Studio shell, and you can use the command to access the MEF component part.

To complete this walkthrough, you must install the Visual Studio 2010 SDK.


For more information about the Visual Studio SDK, see Visual Studio Integration SDK. To find out how to download the Visual Studio SDK, see Visual Studio Extensibility Developer Center on the MSDN Web site.

The Visual Studio Package project template can be found in three different locations in the New Project dialog:

  1. Under Visual Basic Extensibility. The default language of the project is Visual Basic.

  2. Under C# Extensibility. The default language of the project is C#.

  3. Under Other Project Types Extensibility. The default language of the project is C++

Create a VSPackage that puts a menu command named Add Adornment on the Tools menu.

To create a menu command VSPackage

  1. Create a Visual Studio Package and name it MenuCommandTest. Click OK.

  2. On the welcome page, click Next.

  3. On the Select a Programming Language page, select Visual Basic or Visual C#, make sure that Generate a new key file to sign the assembly is selected, and then click Next.

  4. On the Basic VSPackage Information page, in the VSPackage name box type MenuCommand, and then click Next.

  5. On the Select VSPackage Options page, select Menu Command and then click Next.

  6. On the Command Options page, in the Command name box type Add Adornment. In the Command ID box, type cmdidAddAdornment. Click Next.

  7. On the Select Test Options page, clear both options and then click Finish.

  8. A solution named MenuCommandTest is opened. The MenuCommandTestPackage file has the code that creates the menu command and puts it on the Tools menu. At this point, the command just causes a message box to be displayed. Later steps show how to change this to display the comment adornment.

  9. Open the source.extension.vsixmanifest file in the VSIX Manifest Editor. It should have one Content row for a VSPackage named MenuCommand.

  10. Save and close the Source.extension.vsixmanifest file.

To add the MEF extension to the VSPackage solution

  1. In Solution Explorer, right-click the solution node, click Add, and then click New Project. In the Add New Project dialog box, click Extensibility under Visual Basic or Visual C#, then EditorClassifier. Name the project CommentAdornmentTest.

  2. Because this project will interact with the strongly-named VSPackage assembly, you must sign the assembly. You can reuse the key file already created for the VSPackage assembly.

    1. Open the project properties and select the Signing page.

    2. Select Sign the assembly.

    3. Under Choose a strong name key file, select the Key.snk file that was generated for the MenuCommandTest assembly.

    4. Save the project.

Because you are adding a MEF component to the VSPackage, you must specify both kinds of content in the manifest.


For more information about MEF, see Managed Extensibility Framework Overview.

To refer to the MEF component in the VSPackage project

  1. In the MenuCommandTest project, open the source.extension.vsixmanifest file in the VSIX Manifest Editor.

  2. Under the Content heading, click Add Content. On the Select content type list, select MEF Component. Under Select a source, select CommentAdornmentTest.

  3. Save and close the source.extension.vsixmanifest file.

  4. Add a reference to the CommentAdornmentTest project.

The comment adornment itself consists of an ITrackingSpan that tracks the selected text, and some strings that represent the author and the description of the text.

To define a comment adornment

  1. In the CommentAdornmentTest project, delete the existing class files.

  2. Add a new class file and name it CommentAdornment.

  3. Add the following using statement.

    Imports Microsoft.VisualStudio.Text
  4. Add a class named CommentAdornment.

    Friend Class CommentAdornment
  5. Add three fields to the CommentAdornment class for the ITrackingSpan, the author, and the description.

    Public ReadOnly Span As ITrackingSpan
    Public ReadOnly Author As String
    Public ReadOnly Text As String
  6. Add a constructor that initializes the fields.

    Public Sub New(ByVal span As SnapshotSpan, ByVal author As String, ByVal text As String)
        Me.Span = span.Snapshot.CreateTrackingSpan(span, SpanTrackingMode.EdgeExclusive)
        Me.Author = author
        Me.Text = text
    End Sub

You must also define a visual element for your adornment. For this walkthrough, define a control that inherits from the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) class Canvas.

To create a visual element for the adornment

  1. Create a class in the CommentAdornmentTest project and name it CommentBlock.

  2. Add the following using statements.

    Imports System
    Imports System.Windows
    Imports System.Windows.Controls
    Imports System.Windows.Media
    Imports System.Windows.Shapes
  3. Make the CommentBlock class inherit from Canvas.

    Friend Class CommentBlock
        Inherits Canvas
  4. Add some private fields to define the visual aspects of the adornment.

    Private textGeometry As Geometry
    Private commentGrid As Grid
    Private Shared brush As Brush
    Private Shared solidPen As Pen
    Private Shared dashPen As Pen
  5. Add a constructor that defines the comment adornment and adds the relevant text.

    Public Sub New(ByVal textRightEdge As Double, ByVal viewRightEdge As Double, ByVal newTextGeometry As Geometry, ByVal author As String, ByVal body As String)
        If brush Is Nothing Then
            brush = New SolidColorBrush(Color.FromArgb(&H20, &H0, &HFF, &H0))
            Dim penBrush As Brush = New SolidColorBrush(Colors.Green)
            solidPen = New Pen(penBrush, 0.5)
            dashPen = New Pen(penBrush, 0.5)
            dashPen.DashStyle = DashStyles.Dash
        End If
        Me.textGeometry = newTextGeometry
        Dim tb1 As New TextBlock()
        tb1.Text = author
        Dim tb2 As New TextBlock()
        tb2.Text = body
        Const MarginWidth As Integer = 8
        Me.commentGrid = New Grid()
        Me.commentGrid.RowDefinitions.Add(New RowDefinition())
        Me.commentGrid.RowDefinitions.Add(New RowDefinition())
        Dim cEdge As New ColumnDefinition()
        cEdge.Width = New GridLength(MarginWidth)
        Dim cEdge2 As New ColumnDefinition()
        cEdge2.Width = New GridLength(MarginWidth)
        Me.commentGrid.ColumnDefinitions.Add(New ColumnDefinition())
        Dim rect As New System.Windows.Shapes.Rectangle()
        rect.RadiusX = 6
        rect.RadiusY = 3
        rect.Fill = brush
        rect.Stroke = Brushes.Green
        Dim inf As New Size(Double.PositiveInfinity, Double.PositiveInfinity)
        Dim middleWidth As Double = Math.Max(tb1.DesiredSize.Width, tb2.DesiredSize.Width)
        Me.commentGrid.Width = middleWidth + 2 * MarginWidth
        Grid.SetColumn(rect, 0)
        Grid.SetRow(rect, 0)
        Grid.SetRowSpan(rect, 2)
        Grid.SetColumnSpan(rect, 3)
        Grid.SetRow(tb1, 0)
        Grid.SetColumn(tb1, 1)
        Grid.SetRow(tb2, 1)
        Grid.SetColumn(tb2, 1)
        Canvas.SetLeft(Me.commentGrid, Math.Max(viewRightEdge - Me.commentGrid.Width - 20.0, textRightEdge + 20.0))
        Canvas.SetTop(Me.commentGrid, textGeometry.GetRenderBounds(solidPen).Top)
    End Sub
  6. Also implement an OnRender event handler that draws the adornment.

    Protected Overrides Sub OnRender(ByVal dc As DrawingContext)
        If Me.textGeometry IsNot Nothing Then
            dc.DrawGeometry(brush, solidPen, Me.textGeometry)
            Dim textBounds As Rect = Me.textGeometry.GetRenderBounds(solidPen)
            Dim p1 As New Point(textBounds.Right, textBounds.Bottom)
            Dim p2 As New Point(Math.Max(Canvas.GetLeft(Me.commentGrid) - 20.0, p1.X), p1.Y)
            Dim p3 As New Point(Math.Max(Canvas.GetLeft(Me.commentGrid), p1.X), (Canvas.GetTop(Me.commentGrid) + p1.Y) * 0.5)
            dc.DrawLine(dashPen, p1, p2)
            dc.DrawLine(dashPen, p2, p3)
        End If
    End Sub

The IWpfTextViewCreationListener is a MEF component part that you can use to listen to view creation events.

To add an IWpfTextViewCreationListener

  1. Add a class file to the CommentAdornmentTest project and name it Connector.

  2. Add the following using statements.

    Imports System.ComponentModel.Composition
    Imports Microsoft.VisualStudio.Text.Editor
    Imports Microsoft.VisualStudio.Utilities
  3. Declare a class that implements IWpfTextViewCreationListener and export it with a ContentTypeAttribute of "text" and a TextViewRoleAttribute of Document. The content type attribute specifies the kind of content to which the component applies. The text type is the base type for all non-binary file types. Therefore, almost every text view that is created will be of this type. The text view role attribute specifies the kind of text view to which the component applies. Document text view roles generally show text that is composed of lines and is stored in a file.

    <Export(GetType(IWpfTextViewCreationListener)), ContentType("text"), TextViewRole(PredefinedTextViewRoles.Document)>
    Public NotInheritable Class Connector
        Implements IWpfTextViewCreationListener
  4. Implement the TextViewCreated method so that it calls the static Create() event of the CommentAdornmentManager.

    Public Sub TextViewCreated(ByVal textView As IWpfTextView) Implements IWpfTextViewCreationListener.TextViewCreated
    End Sub
  5. Add a method that you can use to execute the command.

    Public Shared Sub Execute(ByVal host As IWpfTextViewHost)
        Dim view As IWpfTextView = host.TextView
        'Add a comment on the selected text.
        If Not view.Selection.IsEmpty Then
            'Get the provider for the comment adornments in the property bag of the view.
            Dim provider As CommentAdornmentProvider = view.Properties.GetProperty(Of CommentAdornmentProvider)(GetType(CommentAdornmentProvider))
            'Add some arbitrary author and comment text.
            Dim author As String = System.Security.Principal.WindowsIdentity.GetCurrent().Name
            Dim comment As String = "Four score...."
            'Add the comment adornment using the provider.
            provider.Add(view.Selection.SelectedSpans(0), author, comment)
        End If
    End Sub

To add a new adornment, you must define an adornment layer.

To define an adornment layer

  • In the Connector class declare a public field of type AdornmentLayerDefinition and export it with a NameAttribute that specifies a unique name for the adornment layer and a OrderAttribute that defines the Z-order relationship of this adornment layer to the other text view layers (text, caret, and selection).

    <Export(GetType(AdornmentLayerDefinition)), Name("CommentAdornmentLayer"), Order(After:=PredefinedAdornmentLayers.Selection, Before:=PredefinedAdornmentLayers.Text)>
    Public commentLayerDefinition As AdornmentLayerDefinition

When you define an adornment, also implement a comment adornment provider and a comment adornment manager. The comment adornment provider keeps a list of comment adornments, listens to Changed events on the underlying text buffer, and deletes comment adornments when the underlying text is deleted.

To add the comment adornment provider

  1. Add a new class file to the CommentAdornmentTest project and name it CommentAdornmentProvider.

  2. Add the following using statements.

    Imports System
    Imports System.Collections.Generic
    Imports System.Collections.ObjectModel
    Imports Microsoft.VisualStudio.Text
    Imports Microsoft.VisualStudio.Text.Editor
  3. Add a class named CommentAdornmentProvider.

    Friend Class CommentAdornmentProvider
  4. Add private fields for the text buffer and the list of comment adornments related to the buffer.

    Private buffer As ITextBuffer
    Private comments As IList(Of CommentAdornment) = New List(Of CommentAdornment)()
  5. Add a constructor for CommentAdornmentProvider. This constructor should have private access because the provider is instantiated by the Create() method. The constructor adds the OnBufferChanged event handler to the Changed event.

    Private Sub New(ByVal buffer As ITextBuffer)
        Me.buffer = buffer
        'listen to the Changed event so we can react to deletions.
        AddHandler Me.buffer.Changed, AddressOf OnBufferChanged
    End Sub
  6. Add the Create() method.

    Public Shared Function Create(ByVal view As IWpfTextView) As CommentAdornmentProvider
        Return view.Properties.GetOrCreateSingletonProperty(Of CommentAdornmentProvider)(Function() New CommentAdornmentProvider(view.TextBuffer))
    End Function
  7. Add the Detach() method.

    Public Sub Detach()
        If Me.buffer IsNot Nothing Then
            'remove the Changed listener
            RemoveHandler Me.buffer.Changed, AddressOf OnBufferChanged
            Me.buffer = Nothing
        End If
    End Sub
  8. Add the OnBufferChanged event handler.

    Private Sub OnBufferChanged(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As TextContentChangedEventArgs)
        'Make a list of all comments that have a span of at least one character after applying the change. There is no need to raise a changed event for the deleted adornments. The adornments are deleted only if a text change would cause the view to reformat the line and discard the adornments.
        Dim keptComments As IList(Of CommentAdornment) = New List(Of CommentAdornment)(Me.comments.Count)
        For Each comment As CommentAdornment In Me.comments
            Dim span As Span = comment.Span.GetSpan(e.After)
            'if a comment does not span at least one character, its text was deleted.
            If span.Length <> 0 Then
            End If
        Next comment
        Me.comments = keptComments
    End Sub
  9. Add a declaration for a CommentsChanged event.

    Public Event CommentsChanged As EventHandler(Of CommentsChangedEventArgs)
  10. Create an Add() method to add the adornment.

    Public Sub Add(ByVal span As SnapshotSpan, ByVal author As String, ByVal text As String)
        If span.Length = 0 Then
            Throw New ArgumentOutOfRangeException("span")
        End If
        If author Is Nothing Then
            Throw New ArgumentNullException("author")
        End If
        If text Is Nothing Then
            Throw New ArgumentNullException("text")
        End If
        'Create a comment adornment given the span, author and text.
        Dim comment As New CommentAdornment(span, author, text)
        'Add it to the list of comments.
        'Raise the changed event.
        Dim commentsChanged As EventHandler(Of CommentsChangedEventArgs) = Me.CommentsChangedEvent
        If CommentsChangedEvent IsNot Nothing Then
            CommentsChangedEvent(Me, New CommentsChangedEventArgs(comment, Nothing))
        End If
    End Sub
  11. Add a RemoveComments() method.

    Public Sub RemoveComments(ByVal span As SnapshotSpan)
        Dim commentsChanged As EventHandler(Of CommentsChangedEventArgs) = Me.CommentsChangedEvent
        'Get a list of all the comments that are being kept 
        Dim keptComments As IList(Of CommentAdornment) = New List(Of CommentAdornment)(Me.comments.Count)
        For Each comment As CommentAdornment In Me.comments
            'find out if the given span overlaps with the comment text span. If two spans are adjacent, they do not overlap. To consider adjacent spans, use IntersectsWith.
            If comment.Span.GetSpan(span.Snapshot).OverlapsWith(span) Then
                'Raise the change event to delete this comment.
                If CommentsChangedEvent IsNot Nothing Then
                    CommentsChangedEvent(Me, New CommentsChangedEventArgs(Nothing, comment))
                End If
            End If
        Next comment
        Me.comments = keptComments
    End Sub
  12. Add a GetComments() method that returns all the comments in a given snapshot span.

    Public Function GetComments(ByVal span As SnapshotSpan) As Collection(Of CommentAdornment)
        Dim overlappingComments As IList(Of CommentAdornment) = New List(Of CommentAdornment)()
        For Each comment As CommentAdornment In Me.comments
            If comment.Span.GetSpan(span.Snapshot).OverlapsWith(span) Then
            End If
        Next comment
        Return New Collection(Of CommentAdornment)(overlappingComments)
    End Function
  13. Add a class named CommentsChangedEventArgs, as follows.

    Friend Class CommentsChangedEventArgs
        Inherits EventArgs
        Public ReadOnly CommentAdded As CommentAdornment
        Public ReadOnly CommentRemoved As CommentAdornment
        Public Sub New(ByVal added As CommentAdornment, ByVal removed As CommentAdornment)
            Me.CommentAdded = added
            Me.CommentRemoved = removed
        End Sub
    End Class

The comment adornment manager creates the adornment and adds it to the adornment layer. It listens to the LayoutChanged and Closed events so that it can move or delete the adornment. It also listens to the CommentsChanged event that is fired by the comment adornment provider when comments are added or removed.

To manage comment adornments

  1. Add a class file to the CommentAdornmentTest project and name it CommentAdornmentManager.

  2. Add the following using statements.

    Imports System
    Imports System.Collections.Generic
    Imports System.Windows.Media
    Imports Microsoft.VisualStudio.Text
    Imports Microsoft.VisualStudio.Text.Editor
    Imports Microsoft.VisualStudio.Text.Formatting
  3. Add a class named CommentAdornmentManager.

    Friend Class CommentAdornmentManager
  4. Add some private fields.

    Private ReadOnly view As IWpfTextView
    Private ReadOnly layer As IAdornmentLayer
    Private ReadOnly provider As CommentAdornmentProvider
  5. Add a constructor that subscribes the manager to the LayoutChanged and Closed events, and also to the CommentsChanged event. The constructor is private because the manager is instantiated by the static Create() method.

    Private Sub New(ByVal view As IWpfTextView)
        Me.view = view
        AddHandler Me.view.LayoutChanged, AddressOf OnLayoutChanged
        AddHandler Me.view.Closed, AddressOf OnClosed
        Me.layer = view.GetAdornmentLayer("CommentAdornmentLayer")
        Me.provider = CommentAdornmentProvider.Create(view)
        AddHandler Me.provider.CommentsChanged, AddressOf OnCommentsChanged
    End Sub
  6. Add the Create() method that gets a provider or creates one if required.

    Public Shared Function Create(ByVal view As IWpfTextView) As CommentAdornmentManager
        Return view.Properties.GetOrCreateSingletonProperty(Of CommentAdornmentManager)(Function() New CommentAdornmentManager(view))
    End Function
  7. Add the CommentsChanged handler.

    Private Sub OnCommentsChanged(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As CommentsChangedEventArgs)
        'Remove the comment (when the adornment was added, the comment adornment was used as the tag).
        If e.CommentRemoved IsNot Nothing Then
        End If
        'Draw the newly added comment (this will appear immediately: the view does not need to do a layout).
        If e.CommentAdded IsNot Nothing Then
        End If
    End Sub
  8. Add the Closed handler.

    Private Sub OnClosed(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs)
        RemoveHandler Me.view.LayoutChanged, AddressOf OnLayoutChanged
        RemoveHandler Me.view.Closed, AddressOf OnClosed
    End Sub
  9. Add the LayoutChanged handler.

    Private Sub OnLayoutChanged(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As TextViewLayoutChangedEventArgs)
        'Get all of the comments that intersect any of the new or reformatted lines of text.
        Dim newComments As New List(Of CommentAdornment)()
        'The event args contain a list of modified lines and a NormalizedSpanCollection of the spans of the modified lines. 
        'Use the latter to find the comments that intersect the new or reformatted lines of text.
        For Each span As Span In e.NewOrReformattedSpans
            newComments.AddRange(Me.provider.GetComments(New SnapshotSpan(Me.view.TextSnapshot, span)))
        Next span
        'It is possible to get duplicates in this list if a comment spanned 3 lines, and the first and last lines were modified but the middle line was not.
        'Sort the list and skip duplicates.
        newComments.Sort(Function(a As CommentAdornment, b As CommentAdornment) a.GetHashCode().CompareTo(b.GetHashCode()))
        Dim lastComment As CommentAdornment = Nothing
        For Each comment As CommentAdornment In newComments
            If comment IsNot lastComment Then
                lastComment = comment
            End If
        Next comment
    End Sub
  10. Add the private method that draws the comment.

    Private Sub DrawComment(ByVal comment As CommentAdornment)
        Dim span As SnapshotSpan = comment.Span.GetSpan(Me.view.TextSnapshot)
        Dim g As Geometry = Me.view.TextViewLines.GetMarkerGeometry(span)
        If g IsNot Nothing Then
            'Find the rightmost coordinate of all the lines that intersect the adornment.
            Dim maxRight As Double = 0.0
            For Each line As ITextViewLine In Me.view.TextViewLines.GetTextViewLinesIntersectingSpan(span)
                maxRight = Math.Max(maxRight, line.Right)
            Next line
            'Create the visualization.
            Dim block As New CommentBlock(maxRight, Me.view.ViewportRight, g, comment.Author, comment.Text)
            'Add it to the layer.
            Me.layer.AddAdornment(span, comment, block)
        End If
    End Sub

You can use the menu command to create a comment adornment by implementing the MenuItemCallback method of the VSPackage.

To use the menu command to add the comment adornment

  1. Add the following references to the MenuCommandTest project:

    • Microsoft.VisualStudio.TextManager.Interop

    • Microsoft.VisualStudio.Editor

    • Microsoft.VisualStudio.Text.UI.Wpf

  2. Add a reference to the CommentAdornmentTest project.

  3. Open the MenuCommandTestPackage file.

  4. Add the following using statements.

    Imports Microsoft.VisualStudio.TextManager.Interop
    Imports Microsoft.VisualStudio.Text.Editor
    Imports Microsoft.VisualStudio.Editor
    Imports CommentAdornmentTest
  5. In the MenuItemCallback method, remove the existing code.

  6. Add code to get the active view. You must get the SVsTextManager of the Visual Studio shell to get the active IVsTextView.

    Dim txtMgr As IVsTextManager = CType(GetService(GetType(SVsTextManager)), IVsTextManager)
    Dim vTextView As IVsTextView = Nothing
    Dim mustHaveFocus As Integer = 1
    txtMgr.GetActiveView(mustHaveFocus, Nothing, vTextView)
  7. If this text view is an instance of an editor text view, you can cast it to the IVsUserData interface and then get the IWpfTextViewHost and its associated IWpfTextView.

    Dim userData As IVsUserData = TryCast(vTextView, IVsUserData)
    If userData Is Nothing Then
        Console.WriteLine("No text view is currently open")
    End If
    Dim viewHost As IWpfTextViewHost
    Dim holder As Object
    Dim guidViewHost As Guid = DefGuidList.guidIWpfTextViewHost
    userData.GetData(guidViewHost, holder)
    viewHost = CType(holder, IWpfTextViewHost)
  8. Use the IWpfTextViewHost to call the Connector.Execute() method, which gets the comment adornment provider and adds the adornment.


To test this code, build the MenuCommand solution and run it in the experimental instance.

To build and test the MenuCommand solution

  1. Build the solution. When you run this project in the debugger, a second instance of Visual Studio is instantiated.

  2. Create a text file. Type some text and then select it.

  3. On the Tools menu, click Add Adornment. A balloon should be displayed on the right side of the text window, and should contain text that resembles the following text.