Shipping Visual Studio Extensions

Note

This article applies to Visual Studio 2015. If you're looking for Visual Studio 2017 documentation, use the version selector at the top left. We recommend upgrading to Visual Studio 2017. Download it here.

Note: The Visual Studio Gallery is being replaced by the Visual Studio Marketplace. See the latest version of this topic for details.

After you’ve finished developing your extension, you can install it on other machines, share it with your friends and coworkers, or publish it on the Visual Studio Gallery. In this section we explain all the things you need to do in order to publish and maintain your extension: working with .vsix files, publishing, localizing, and updating.

Working with VSIX Extensions

You can create a VSIX extensions by creating a blank VSIX Project, and then adding different item templates to it. For more information, see VSIX Project Template.

You can use the VSIX format to package project templates, item templates, VSPackages, Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) components, Toolbox controls, assemblies, and custom types (this includes custom Start Pages). The VSIX format uses file-based deployment. For more information about VSIX packages, see Anatomy of a VSIX Package.

The VSIX format does not support the installation of code snippets. It also does not support certain other scenarios such as writing to the Global Assembly Cache (GAC) or to the system registry. If you need to write to the GAC or the registry in the installation, you must use the Windows Installer. For more information, see Preparing Extensions for Windows Installer Deployment.

You can distribute your extension to other people simply by mailing them the .vsix file or putting in on a server. But the best way to get your code in the hands of a lot of people is to put it on the Visual Studio Gallery. Visual Studio Gallery extensions are available to Visual Studio users through Extensions and Updates. For more information, see Finding and Using Visual Studio Extensions.

For a full example that shows how to upload an extension to the Visual Studio Gallery, see Walkthrough: Publishing a Visual Studio Extension.

Private Galleries

As you develop controls, templates, and tools, you can share them with your organization by posting them to a private gallery on your intranet. For more information, see Private Galleries.

Localizing your Extension

If you’re planning to release your extension in different locales, you should consider localizing it. For an explanation of what’s involved, see Localizing VSIX Packages.

Updating and Versioning your Extension

After you’ve published your extension, there will come a time when you need to update it. To find out how to update an extension that has been published on the Visual Studio Gallery, see How to: Update an Extension.

You can set your extension to support multiple versions of Visual Studio. For more information, see Supporting Multiple Versions of Visual Studio.

Title Description
Getting Started with the VSIX Project Template Explains how to use the VSIX project template to install a custom project template.
Anatomy of a VSIX Package Describes the components of a VSIX package.
VSIX Project Template Provides step-by-step instructions about how to package and publish an extension.
Localizing VSIX Packages Explains how to provide localized text for the installation process by using extension.vsixlangpack files.
How to: Update an Extension Describes how to update an extension on your system and how to deploy an update to an existing Visual Studio extension.
How to: Add a Dependency to a VSIX Package Describes how to add references to VSIX deployment packages.
Preparing Extensions for Windows Installer Deployment Explains how to deploy your extension with Windows Installer.
Signing VSIX Packages Explains how to sign VSIX packages.
Private Galleries Explains how to create private galleries for extensions.
Supporting Multiple Versions of Visual Studio Shows how to have your extension support multiple versions of Visual Studio.