Visual Studio Feature Walkthrough–Part 2–My Favorite Extensions


This is the second post in a series of posts which covers various features and extensions available in Visual Studio.  I work in Visual Studio for most of my day and over time I have found a number of extensions that have been extremely useful while coding. This post covers a list of the ones I use most and why.

Keywords: Visual Studio, Extensions


The extensions I have included have various different features and capabilities and each of them make my life easier as a developer. I am not listing them in any particular order. All the extensions can be found in the manager but I will provide links to each extension in this post. Enjoy.



I like my code neat and organised. I like to group my members at the top based on access and my methods into regions. I also like to have things in alphabetical order, I have no idea why but it makes me happy to know that my code is always neat. One easy way to make sure you have neatly formatted code is to use CodeMaid. CodeMaid is an open source extension that will clean and simplify your code for you. You can configure various options on how you want it to clean your code. From whether to add regions, ordering preferences, and which rules to use. I have personally set it to organise my code every time I save but you can configure this to what suits you best.

CodeMaid comes with a simple code discovery tool called Spade which allows you to dig into your code quickly and you can drag and drop the code in Spade to reorganise the code how you prefer.




Is an analyser library for C# and VB that helps identify Design, Naming, Performance, Style, Usage and Refactoring items within your code. There is some overlap with the Style Cop extension there are some additional checks in Style Cop that don't exist in CodeCracker and some that exist in Style Cop Analysers. I run both side by side and get some very neat code in the end and some great information on how to improve my code.



Powershell Tools

I user Powershell extensively while developing solutions especially when I use Azure and these tools provide some really helpful features. It adds some scripting enhancements, Intellisense, project systems, and debugging for Powershell right in Visual Studio.



Productivity Power Tools 2015

This is a collection of tools built by Microsoft that helps you be more productive. They have added features for Peek Help, Quick Tasks, Power Commands, Fix Mixed Tabs, and a whole lot more. Some of the best features they have added is the Solution Explorer Errors which helps you find errors quickly within your code.



Visual Studio 2015 Color Theme Editor

We all work in our IDE for a long period of time and its great when we can have a good looking experience. Its a pain to go and customise your theme everytime you reinstall or get a new machine. The easiest way to manage this is through the theme editor extension which allows you to change themes and customize your IDE base on past themes which you have exported or downloaded.


Spell Checker

One thing I like to see is that my comments and strings are spelt correctly. I use Visual Studio Spell checker, its not a bad tool, I think its a little limited as to what it checks but works for my needs.



Refactoring Essentials

Refactoring is a great way to enhance and maintain your code over time. The Refactoring Essentials extension has been extremely useful day today and has a ton of great features. With rich analysers and some very useful refactorings this tool has made my life a lot easier.


C# Essentials

C# Essentials is a set of analysers, code fixes and refactorings which are targeted with working in C# 6 and the new features that are included. This extension will identify when parameters are in strings, when auto-properties are getter only, and conversions to interpolated strings.




There are times when I am working with Visual Studio and I think wouldn’t it be nice to create a project with Angular, or add new files to a project such as a robot.txt. This extension reduces the amount of work needed to maintain and build new websites. Here is a video from his site:


GitHub Extension

Most developers today work with Git as their choice of source control, the default installation of Visual Studio does not include the GitHub Extension. Simply go install it and it adds great features for working with Git and GitHub right from visual studio.



Web Essentials

I am not going to cover web essentials in detail here because it has been done so many times, but it is an amazing collection of tools for web development.



The last one on my list for this post is VSColorOutput which modifies the colours of the output windows using regular expressions to select text in the output window and modify its colour. This is brilliant if you rely on the output window for a large amount of information. It makes it easy to identify important information in your output windows and its pretty to boot.




I hope you have found these extensions useful, I want to thank Rob Maclean for his input on this list you can find him at