Extending the SharePoint Tools in Visual Studio
The SharePoint tools in Visual Studio meet the requirements of many application development scenarios. However, you might discover cases where they do not provide functionality that you or other developers require. In these cases, you can extend the SharePoint tools to create the functionality that you need.
You can extend the SharePoint project system and the SharePoint Connections node in the Server Explorer window.
Visual Studio includes a set of project templates and item templates that you can use to create SharePoint solutions. For example, there are templates for event receivers, list definitions, workflows, and Web Parts. However, you can also define your own types of SharePoint project items for creating SharePoint components such as fields or custom actions. You can also create extensions for SharePoint project item types that are already installed in Visual Studio, and you can create extensions for SharePoint projects.
For more information, see Extending the SharePoint Project System.
In Visual Studio, you can use the SharePoint Connections node in the Server Explorer window to view many of the components of one or more local SharePoint sites in a hierarchical tree view. You can also extend the SharePoint Connections node in the following ways:
By adding your own nodes. This is useful if you want to display components of SharePoint sites that are not displayed by default.
By extending existing nodes. For example, you can add a new child node to an existing node, or you can add a shortcut menu item to a node and perform tasks when a developer clicks the menu item.
For more information, see Extending the SharePoint Connections Node in Server Explorer.
To create extensions for the SharePoint tools, your development computer must meet the same requirements for creating SharePoint solutions in Visual Studio. For more information, see Requirements for Developing SharePoint Solutions.
We also recommend that you install the Visual Studio SDK. The SDK includes project templates and tools that you can use to extend Visual Studio. In particular, the SDK includes a project template you can use to easily create a Visual Studio Extension (VSIX) package. VSIX packages are the preferred way to deploy Visual Studio extensions in Visual Studio. All SharePoint tools extensions must be deployed by using VSIX packages. All of the walkthroughs in this documentation assume that you have the Visual Studio SDK installed.