VS 2010 productivity improvements - Part I

Every developer deserves a fantastic development environment that allows them to write, understand, navigate, and debug code as efficiently as possible. After all, developers spend most of their time in the IDE.

As we designed and built Visual Studio 2010, we let this principle guide the product, and I think we've delivered an IDE that raises the development experience bar significantly. Starting today and over the coming weeks, I will highlight my favorite productivity features in Visual Studio 2010. Some of them are small features, and some of them required a large, coordinated effort across the team, but each one makes developers' lives a little easier.

Multi-Monitor Support

Many developers have invested time and money in their coding cockpit: just the right chair, a keyboard that fits your hands and habits, and, of course, two or three monitors so you can maximize your screen real estate. Until 2010, Visual Studio's single window didn't let you spread your coding experience across more than one monitor, but now that's changed. Tear-off tabs allow you to drag coding windows and tool windows out of Visual Studio's window frame and onto another area of your screen or another monitor. You can pull as many windows out of the Visual Studio window frame as you like, and then put them back into the editor tab strip or dock them within Visual Studio again when you like.


Even though you are taking advantage of the latest .NET runtime, your customers may not be, or you may have applications that are built against a previous version that aren't quite ready to be upgraded to .NET 4 yet. Visual Studio 2010 allows you to build projects that target .NET 2.0, .NET 3.0, .NET 3.5, or .NET 4. The New Project dialog lets you choose the version of the .NET Framework you'd like to target or find additional versions or profiles of the .NET Framework online:


You can change the targeted version on an existing project in the project properties:


Once you've set a particular targeted version of .NET for your project, you will get IntelliSense, toolbox controls, and properties in the property grid that are appropriate for the version you've chosen.  The debugger, profiler, and compilers have also been updated to support multi-targeting.  And .NET 4 and Visual Studio 2010 run side by side with previous versions so you can use the appropriate tools and frameworks for your project.

Code Navigation

What was the name of that method? It's something like "state custom".

When you're working with a large codebase, sometimes you remember something about a piece of code you're looking for, but not the specifics.  The new Navigate To tool lets you find code from whatever you can remember. 

You can bring up the Navigate To tool using Ctrl + comma, then put whatever you remember into the Search terms box.  Visual Studio will do a fuzzy search and give you all matching members, functions, macros, etc., along with their location and scope. 


Items from referenced libraries will appear in the results as well, but if you're interested only in items from your code, you can check the "Hide external items" checkbox to filter to just your code.


More Coming Soon

This is just a taste of a few of the productivity enhancements in Visual Studio 2010.  Look for Part II, which will focus on editor improvements, soon!