How to: Distribute Code Snippets

 

You can simply give your code snippets to your friends and have them install the snippets on their own computers by using the Code Snippets Manager. However, if you have several snippets to distribute or would like to distribute them more widely, you include your snippet file in a Visual Studio extension, which Visual Studio users can install.

You must install the Visual Studio SDK in order to create Visual Studio extensions. Find the version of the VSSDK that matches your Visual Studio installation at Visual Studio 2015 Downloads.

In this procedure we will use the same Hello World code snippet created in Walkthrough: Creating a Code Snippet. We will supply the .snippet text, so you don’t have to go back and make one.

  1. Create a new VSIX project named TestSnippet. (File / New / Project / Visual C# (or Visual Basic / Extensibility)

  2. In the TestSnippet project, add a new XML file and call it VBCodeSnippet.snippet. Replace the content with the following:

    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>  
    <CodeSnippets  
        xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/VisualStudio/2005/CodeSnippet">  
      <CodeSnippet Format="1.0.0">  
        <Header>  
          <Title>Hello World VB</Title>  
          <Shortcut>HelloWorld</Shortcut>  
          <Description>Inserts code</Description>  
          <Author>MSIT</Author>  
          <SnippetTypes>  
            <SnippetType>Expansion</SnippetType>  
            <SnippetType>SurroundsWith</SnippetType>  
          </SnippetTypes>  
        </Header>  
        <Snippet>  
          <Code Language="VB">  
            <![CDATA[Console.WriteLine("Hello, World!")]]>  
          </Code>  
        </Snippet>  
      </CodeSnippet>  
    </CodeSnippets>  
    
    

Setting up the Directory Structure

  1. In the Solution Explorer, select the project node and add a folder that has the name you want the snippet to have in the Code Snippets Manager. In this case it should be HelloWorldVB.

  2. Move the .snippet file to the HelloWorldVB folder.

  3. Select the .snippet file in the Solution Explorer, and in the Properties window make sure Build Action is set to Content, Copy to Output Directory is set to Copy always, and Include in VSIX is set to true.

Adding the .pkgdef file

  1. Add a text file to the HelloWorldVB folder and name it HelloWorldVB.pkgdef. This file is used to add certain keys to the registry. In this case it adds a new key to

    HKCU\Software\Microsoft\VisualStudio\14.0\Languages\CodeExpansions\Basic.

  2. Add the following lines to the file.

    // Visual Basic   
    [$RootKey$\Languages\CodeExpansions\Basic\Paths]   
    "HelloWorldVB"="$PackageFolder$"  
    
    

    If you examine this key, you can see how to specify different languages.

  3. Select the .pkgdef file in the Solution Explorer, and in the Properties window make sure Build Action is set to Content, Copy to Output Directory is set to Copy always, and Include in VSIX is set to true.

  4. Add the .pkgdef file as an asset in the VSIX manifest. In the source.extension.vsixmanifest file, go to the Assets tab and click New.

  5. In the Add New Asset dialog, set the Type to Microsoft.VisualStudio.VsPackage, the Type to File on filesystem, and the Path to HelloWorldVB.pkgdef (which should appear in the dropdown).

Testing the Snippet

  1. Now you can make sure that the code snippet works in the experimental instance of Visual Studio. The experimental instance is a second copy of Visual Studio that is separate from the one you use to write code. It allows you to work on an extension without affecting your development environment.

  2. Build the project and start debugging. A second instance of Visual Studio should appear.

  3. In the experimental instance, go to Tools / Code Snippets Manager and set the Language to Basic. You should see HelloWorldVB as one of the folders, and you should be able to expand the folder to see the HelloWorldVB snippet.

  4. Test the snippet. In the experimental instance, open a Visual Basic project and open one of the code files. Place your cursor somewhere in the code, right-click, and on the context menu select Insert Snippet.

  5. You should see HelloWorldVB as one of the folders. Double-click it. You should see a pop-up Insert Snippet: HellowWorldVB > that has a dropdown HelloWorldVB. Click the HelloWorldVB dropdown. You should see the following line added to the file:

    Console.WriteLine("Hello, World!")  
    
    

Code Snippets

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