How to make the toolbox reappear in the IDE after installing VS 2005 beta 2

I have heard from a couple of customers who have had problems getting toolbox to appear when trying to use the designers in the IDE in VS 2005 beta 2. The customers I have helped so far have all had some previous version of VS 2005 (either beta 1 or a CTP) and removed it prior to installing beta 2. I wanted to let everyone know a couple of options you have for fixing this problem because the VS 2005 beta cleanup tool only fixes this issue for Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition beta 2 currently.

How do I fix this issue?

This fix has been verified by a customer who contacted me (see this MSDN Forum post for more info) so I recommend using this as long as you feel comfortable using regedit.exe to modify your registry:

  1. From a cmd prompt, run regedit.exe
  2. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\VisualStudio\8.0
  3.  Rename the Profile sub-hive to something else
  4. Close regedit
  5. Relaunch the VS IDE
  6. Select your desired development profile
  7. Rerun the form designer of your choice and verify that the toolbox now appears correctly

Note that the registry hive that you want to use in step 2 above depends on the version of Visual Studio you have installed. If you have any of the Express Editions installed, you will need to use the following registry hive names in place of the one listed above:

All other versions of VS use the hive listed in step 2 above.

Another possible, less invasive fix (but one that I have not had a chance to fully verify yet) is to launch the VS IDE, choose Tools | Customize from the menu bar and click the Reset button to reset the toolbar.

Why does this happen?!?

The underlying cause is that there is some leftover profile registry keys/values under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\<Product>\8.0. In general, user data stored in the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive is not removed during a product uninstall. But this is also complicated by the fact that this profile data is written by the VS IDE and not by the setup MSI. Therefore setup does not have any way of knowing that the data is even there and cannot try to uninstall it. Normally the profile data will not interfere like this, but it appears there was some data written there in previous beta versions that is now incompatible since some of the code for that feature has changed since then. The most common place I have seen that show up is in VB Express (which is why I added it to the cleanup tool). In beta 1, the IDE start page showed an HTML file that was installed with the product, but in beta 2 it connects to a web site to show the start page and the local HTML file is no longer installed as a part of the product. If the registry value is present that points the start page to the local HTML file but that file is not installed, then you see a file not found error where the start page should appear.