Getting Started with the Visual Studio SDK

Welcome to the Visual Studio SDK. Visual Studio 2008 includes an integrated development environment (IDE), which enables rapid development of a wide variety of software applications. The Visual Studio SDK provides a framework that you can use to extend the functionality of Visual Studio 2008. This topic will discuss some of the ways in which you can extend Visual Studio 2008, and also provide links to more documentation to help you start using the Visual Studio SDK.

Extending Visual Studio

Visual Studio 2008 is a complete set of development tools for building ASP.NET Web applications, XML Web Services, desktop applications, and mobile applications. Visual Basic, Visual C++, Visual C#, and Visual J# all use the same IDE, which enables them to share tools and makes creating mixed-language solutions easier.

Visual Studio 2008 provides several ways to extend the IDE:

  • The ability to create, edit, and distribute macros to automate repetitive tasks.

  • A flexible add-in framework.

  • The means to develop the same kinds of extensions to the IDE that were used to build major Visual Studio 2008 features, such as the C# language integration. The extensions are named VSPackages.


You can record your actions in Visual Studio 2008 by using macros. Macros are recorded as Visual Basic code, which then can be saved, modified, replayed, and distributed. Support for macros in Visual Studio 2008 includes Macro Explorer, which lets you browse and manage macros. A specialized macro editor lets you modify existing macros with the aid of Intelllisense. After you have recorded and configured a macro, you can bind it to a menu command, toolbar, or keyboard shortcut to make it easier to reuse. You even can package your macro as a Macro Project so that you can encapsulate and distribute custom solutions designed to handle repetitive and specialized tasks.


Macro functionality is documented in the Visual Studio 2008 core documentation.


Add-ins let you interact with most of the features and tools found in Visual Studio 2008, including code editors, the code model, output and debugging windows, editors, menus, and other frequently used interfaces. You can implement an add-in in any language. The Visual Studio Add-in Wizard provides a framework in which you can add your customized code. Once you have deployed an add-in, you can toggle it on and off by using the Add-in Manager.


Add-in functionality is documented in the Visual Studio 2008 core documentation.


VSPackages are the principal architectural unit of Visual Studio, and provide deep integration directly in the IDE by enabling access to the same tools and components used by Microsoft to create Visual Studio 2008, including the underlying Visual Studio 2008 APIs. VSPackages are more complex to design and implement than macros or add-ins, but they are much more powerful.

Where to Go Next

The following table links to samples, and Help topics and tutorials, that can help you start using the Visual Studio SDK:

If you want to:

Go to:

Take the Visual Studio Extensibility Guided Tour

Visual Studio Integration Guided Tour

Learn more about Visual Studio's automation and extensibility architecture

Visual Studio Integration Concepts

Automation and Extensibility for Visual Studio

Automate Visual Studio 2008 tasks by using macros

Automating Repetitive Actions by Using Macros

Create a Visual Studio 2008 add-in

Creating Add-ins and Wizards

How to: Create an Add-In

Deeply integrate with Visual Studio 2008 by creating a VSPackage

Introduction to the Visual Studio Development Environment SDK

VSPackage Essentials

Add custom menu and toolbar commands to Visual Studio 2008

Menu and Toolbar Essentials

Menu and Toolbar Command Walkthroughs

Display custom code editors in Visual Studio 2008

Editor Essentials

Editor Walkthroughs

Add custom tool windows to Visual Studio 2008

Tool Window Essentials

Tool Window Walkthroughs

Provide help content for Visual Studio 2008 extensibility

Help Integration

Help Authoring

Find a Visual Studio 2008 extensibility sample

Visual Studio Integration Samples

Macros Samples

Learn how to integrate with Team Foundation Server

Team Foundation Server SDK

See Also


What's New in the Visual Studio SDK

Visual Studio