Set Up the Development Environment


Updated: October 17, 2013

Applies To: Windows Server 2012 Essentials, Windows Home Server 2011, Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials, Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials

Once you have determined what kind of add-in you would like to create, you must set up your development environment on a client or server computer. With Visual Studio 2010, you can also access a number of templates that simplify the process of creating different types of Windows Server Essentials add-ins. The following topic describes how the available templates, how to access the templates, and how to set up the development environment.

A Windows Server Essentials add-in is designed to run on a Windows server. Therefore, while you can develop an add-in on a client development computer, you must use a server to test and debug your add-in. To improve the development experience, it is recommended that you install Visual Studio 2010 on your test or development server. For example, the procedures in this section assume that you are developing your add-in on a server computer. If you are creating your add-in on a development computer instead of the server, you must copy the following assembly to the development computer and reference it in your Visual Studio project:


The following table lists the template files that you can use to develop add-ins for the Dashboard.

Template nameDescription
WSS Sub-Tab with WinForms ControlHelps you create a top-level tab with a Windows Forms custom control.
WSS Top-Level Tab with WPF ControlHelps you create a top-level tab with a Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) custom control.
WSS Sub-Tab with WPF ControlHelps you create a subtab with a WPF custom control.
WSS Sub-Tab with WinForm ControlHelps you create a subtab with a Windows Forms custom control.
WSS Sub-Tab with ListviewHelps you create a subtab with a list view.
WSS Tab ExtenderHelps you add columns, tasks, and details to built-in tabs.

You can more easily create add-ins for the Dashboard if you use the templates that you can download.

Installing the templates

  1. Confirm that you have installed the Windows Server Essentials SDK.

  2. In Visual Studio, click Tools, and then click Extensions and Updates….

  3. On the Extensions and Updates dialog, click Online, and then search for “Windows Server”.

  4. In the results pane, click on Windows Server Essentials Add-In Templates, and then click Download.

  5. On the Installation dialog, click Install, and then click Close.

Windows Server Essentials is designed to integrate with Visual Studio. The following procedure describes how to set up a Visual Studio project and access the Windows Server Essentials templates.

To create a new project for your Dashboard add-in

  1. Open Visual Studio 2010 as an administrator by right-clicking the program in the Start menu and selecting Run as administrator.

  2. Click File, click New, and then click Project.

  3. In the Templates pane, choose a template depending on how you want to extend the Dashboard.

  4. Provide a name and a location for the project, and then click OK.

    System_CAPS_ICON_important.jpg Important

    You should ensure that the name of your project is unique as possible. Suggestions for naming assemblies include: avoid generic names for your assemblies, such as “common.dll,” “antivirus.dll,” or “backup.dll”; consider prefixing the name of your assembly with your company name or identifier. Use alphanumeric characters only.

  5. Save the project.

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