Getting Started with VSIP

So you've decided to write a package for Visual Studio .NET. Congratulations! Now what? Getting started with VSIP is not the easiest task in the world, but here are some things you can do and read to get you started.

  1. Head over to the VSIP Homepage. Here you can download the VSIP SDK (registration required) which will allow you to fully integrate your idea for a product into Visual Studio .NET.
  2. After you install VSIP, but before you even look at all the documentation that was installed, I would highly suggest downloading the VSIP Extras Beta program. The extras release has a lot of cool new features that make it much easier to write a package. The greatest feature (IMO) is the ability to write managed code for your packages. You still might have to do a small amount of UI code in unmanaged code, but this is minimal.
  3. Now the learning begins. Launch VS and check out the “VSIP” node that was added to the Help Contents. There's a lot of really good articles there including all the articles on writing managed packages (in VSIP Extras).
  4. Run the new wizard (in VSIP Extras) that helps you set up a basic package (including tool windows, menu commands, and even a custom editor) by choosing New Project->Extensibility Projects->Visual Studio Integration Package.
  5. READ SOURCE CODE/SAMPLES. These are invaluable resources for understanding how packages work. It would be especially helpful if you look over the code produced by running the wizard.
  6. Post questions to the newsgroup. (See the VSIP Homepage for details) There are several Microsoft employees that post as well as a rapidly growing community of developers writing packages for Visual Studio.
  7. Check out some of the videos/presentations under “Articles & Technical Info” on (Update June 2008: Please go to This material focuses on the “native“ interfaces to VS (instead of the new managed interfaces), but there is still a lot of great information to help you understand the architecture of Visual Studio.
  8. If you're part of an organization that wants more direct VSIP support, you can become a paid VSIP partner and get direct support from Microsoft.