VSX Community Letter for June 2008

This month's letter includes information about Microsoft's first VSX Developer Conference, updates to the VSX Developer Center, updates to the Visual Studio Gallery, and the new VSX Flash Newsletter. Also included is information about what the VSX team has been working on in the past month, event news on VSX, more VSX content online, and a preview of what's coming next month.

What's new with the VSX team

Our team has been working on the next version of the VS SDK release, which targets VS 2008 SP1 once it is released later this year. While we are working on what will be called VS SDK 2008 SDK 1.1, we are also working on a new major version of the VS SDK targeting the next major version of Visual Studio. We will have more details about this to disclose later this year. Many of our team members have been at events such as TechEd and the VSX Tour in Europe.

VSX at TechEd

Some of our team members including Quan To, Mariano Blanco, and Gearard Boland were at TechEd in early June. The VSX booth was open daily from 8:30am to 6:00pm and had nearly 1000 visitors total. There was a general excitement about the possibilities of the VS Shell and they had a lot of interest with excellent questions during the week. In addition to booth duty, Quan gave a chalk talk about the Isolated Shell which was well attended. They nearly filled up the small theatre that the talk was in. Some attendees were also there to complain to us about how difficult the VS SDK was to use once you wanted to do more complex things. A few people wanted to know when we’ll finally get rid of the PLK for deployment of VSPackages.

VSX Tour (Spring 2008)

One of the VSX Tour (Spring 2008) presentations by James Lau and Jean-Marc Prieur is now online for on demand viewing (about 2 hours total), posted by Katrien

VSX - Extend your development Experience - Part 1

VSX - Extend your development Experience - Part 2

VSX - Extend your development Experience - Part 3

VSX - Extend your development Experience - Part 4

VSX - Extend your development Experience - Part 5

Below are the links to the various trip report details from James for each event location:

VSX Developer Conference 2008

Meet the VSX team and many others from Microsoft, as well as hundreds of developers from around the world who are members of the VSIP program and the VSX developer community, at Microsoft's first VSX DevCon: https://msdn.com/vsx/conference

This fall, Microsoft is hosting a developer conference to teach developers how to extend Visual Studio. Visual Studio is an open, extensible platform that can be customized for everything from individual productivity tools to enterprise-wide development needs. The Visual Studio Shell enables developers to leverage a world class IDE to build specialized tools for any number of vertical industries, and can even be custom-branded with your own splash screen and app icon.

Join us September 15th & 16th, 2008 at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond, Washington for two full days of sessions. Each day will have two session tracks presented by Microsoft product team members and industry influencers.

Registration Fee: $100

Microsoft Main Campus
Conference Center
Redmond, WA

A broad range of Visual Studio extensibility topics will be presented including:

• Visual Studio extensibility overview

• Future of Visual Studio

• Using the Visual Studio SDK

• Building applications based on the free Visual Studio Shell

• Programming language service integration

• Building custom Domain Specific Language (DSL) tools

• Team Foundation Server (TFS) extensibility

• Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) extensibility

• Visual Studio Tools for Applications (VSTA)

And many more VSX topics!

All attendees will receive a free copy of the book Professional Visual Studio Extensibility.

VS extension tip of the month

Check out the DocProject.

DocProject is a set of project templates, a Visual Studio Add-In and an API that provide an extensible platform for building complied help using Microsoft Sandcastle in Visual Studio 2005, 2008, C# Express, VB.NET Express, on the command-line using MSBuild, on a build server such as Team Build, or in the DocProject External UI program.

VSX Survey

Please take a few minutes and complete the VSX Survey (Spring 2008) to let us know your interests, activities, and feedback on the topic of extending Visual Studio. We will soon be sharing many of the results of our past survey and this new survey, so that those of you who take the time to fill out the survey can learn more about what the VSX community is doing and saying.

Visual Studio Gallery phase 2 updates rollout

The Visual Studio Gallery site has many new features added, part of an overall phase 2 site feature update rollout this month. Summarized from Anthony Cangialosi's blog post The Visual Studio Gallery gets a little more community friendly:
New features added:

  • Users can now contribute their own ratings on the quality extensions they’ve tried
  • Visitors can optionally provide a detailed review about the extensions
  • We’ve added a Review Tab were visitors can sort through the various reviews on an extension
  • The “Was this review helpful” lets other browsers sort credible reviews from the rest
  • Authors of an extension now get aggregate information about the ratings of their extension
  • Last we jazzed up the category & search results page giving a better summary of the matching extensions

More features coming soon:

  • Author contributed Tags for extensions
  • RSS Feeds for each category
  • Tag based RSS feeds
  • Improvements to the new Categories list page
  • Improved Submission form

VSX Developer Center updates
The VSX Developer Center at https://msdn.com/vsx has been significantly updated this month. There are 20 new pages added to the VSX dev center. One overall new navigation feature you will notice is under the top red navigation tabs there is a gray sub TOC menu bar, which appears when current main tab page that has sub pages.

For the home page, you will see a VSX Site Map link on the far left of the sub TOC (Table of Contents) menu bar. There is also a sub TOC menu link at the top of the Home page for the VSX DevCon 2008 event page. Click on the VSX Site Map link to view a complete link list of all the pages directly associated with the VSX dev center.

Check out the significant updates and UI enhancements to the Downloads, Support.

Based on developer feedback as well as our own goals of making the end to end story for VSX developers easier, we have created a new web page on the VSX dev center: Generate Load Keys. This form is a more simple, quick, and easy process of obtaining PLKs and SLKs.

The updated Community page includes links to many VSX related bloggers (both Microsoft and community), and there is a new section on that page for Social Bookmarks on the topic of VSX.

Visit the Social Bookmarks site to learn more about them and how you can create and share them. Bookmarks created that include the vsx tag will be included in the VSX Social Bookmarks listing and VSX Social Bookmarks RSS feed. Or view the VSX topics using a VSX tag filter for Social Bookmarks.

The Learn pages have significant updates with 6 major blocks of content links along with 18 new sub pages that are part of the VSX learning content. Also the 6 key links listed on the gray sub TOC menu bar on the Learn page. The VSX Site Map page shows all the pages under the Learn category.

We will continue to improve and add to the content listed off the Learn page of the VSX dev center, as well as enhance the VS SDK documentation (content, links, and navigation). Feel free to send suggestions for VSX content to be added, layout and navigation of the VSX dev center, and any community related links that should be considered for future updates.

Sign-up for the VSX Flash Newsletter email subscription

The VSX team has created a formal recurring communication email newsletter to provide the latest news, announcements, and special offers related to VSX (Visual Studio Extensibility), the VSIP (Visual Studio Industry Partners) program, and the Visual Studio Gallery.

While we will continue post monthly VSX Community Letters here on the VSX Team Blog, this email subscription will be similar to formal subscriptions like the MSDN Flash and specific technology email newsletters, either in HTML or Text format (see screenshot of sign-up page below).

We expect to send a formal newsletter summary monthly, with some months including an additional email news flash for significant announcements like a new download of the VS SDK available, new events, special offers, etc. Sign-up today at the link below:

Visual Studio Extensibility Flash Newsletter

Next month

In next month's letter, we will have more new technical content online for VSX (whitepapers and deep dives into samples), more updates to the VSX dev center, and more features added to the Visual Studio Gallery site including RSS support.

Please send your feedback to us via the Contact link on any of our team member blogs, or post a technical question in the MSDN Forum for VSX. You can also email me directly at klevy@microsoft.com or using the Email link on my blog.


Ken Levy
Program Manager
Visual Studio Tools Ecosystem