Visual Studio extensions you should(n’t) be using

In this article, we’ll talk about some of the extensions I use in Visual Studio. I do not consider this piece very technical, however I assume it might be interesting for some of you.

But…why the title?
Figure 1
Figure 1

I get it, you don’t understand the title. But let me explain. The very reason I used the negative, was to say one thing which applies to all extensions. They are going to be performance hogs. Regardless of whether we are talking about an extension as huge as ReSharper or one as small as WakaTime, the drawbacks will always exist.

Now let’s get to the extensions.

WakaTime

The companion extension to the famous web app. With a simple installation, prompting only for your account API key, this small service running it the background of Visual Studio allows me track how much time I code. It also gathers information about the time spent working on a specific project and how long I have been coding in a given language. Later I can compare my results with fellow developers from all over the world. According to their website, this extension supports 43 IDEs and editors, so you can continue tracking your progress even when working in other editors.

WakaTime Dashboard
Figure 2: WakaTime Dashboard

Price: free, more features for $9/month

Website: https://wakatime.com/

VS Gallery: https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=WakaTime.WakaTimehttps://wakatime.com/

Markdown Editor

This is one extension I like to use mainly for aesthetic reasons. It doesn’t really bring much to the table in terms of development, but it is nice to see my Markdown file in a more graphical manner. It is also a good way to make sure I am writing valid Markdown.

Markdown Editor
Figure 3: Markdown Editor

Price: free

Source: https://github.com/madskristensen/MarkdownEditor

VS Gallery: https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=MadsKristensen.MarkdownEditor

ReSharper

I saved the most famous extension for last. Almost everybody in the C# industry has either used or heard about ReSharper – a tool developed by JetBrains, the guys and gals behind IntelliJ. It offers a completely revamped key scheme with a handful of shortcuts designed to speed up one’s workflow. Something I really love is refactoring automation. It constantly checks my project for redundant code or convention irregularities. Apart from that, it allows for easier navigation in my project.

Unreachable code
Figure 4: Unreachable code of an if-else statement

However, it is one of the biggest extensions out there and often crashes when working on large projects. This extension also supports C++ development in Visual Studio.

Price: $299 for the first year

Website: https://www.jetbrains.com/

Extension link: https://www.jetbrains.com/resharper/

Sources

Figure 1: https://media.makeameme.org/created/yesyes-i-dont.jpg

Figure 2: https://wakatime.gallerycdn.vsassets.io/extensions/wakatime/wakatime/8.0.6/1484615403449/149763/1/ScreenShot-2014-10-29.png

Figure 4: ReSharper website

Changing default project directory in Visual Studio 2017

Over the years, I got used to having all new projects created in the “Documents/Visual Studio 2017/Projects” folder. But for some reason, this setting was different when I recently opened Visual Studio. I spent a bit looking for a way to change it back and I believe I have found one!

Why would you want to do this?

After installing Visual Studio and hitting the New Project button, you are presented with a dialog window. Among many other settings, there is also a project directory at the bottom. This is generally “C:/Users/<your_account>/Documents/Visual Studio 2017/Projects”. While most people keep it this way, you might want all new projects be saved somewhere else, i.e. a Git directory.

HOW TO DO IT THEN?

It is very simple and very fast. All you need to do is fire up a new instance of Visual Studio 2017 (the same applies for earlier versions as well) and hit the Tools menu item at the top. Then select Options from the dropdown menu.

 

Open Visual Studio options
Open Visual Studio options

With the new window open, double-click Projects and Solutions in the left column and find the Locations row. On the right, you will find various text entries to tweak different settings in VS. The one you are interested in is dubbed Projects locations. Enter your new default project location here.

Enter the new location here
Enter the new location here

Click OK to save changes and enjoy your new settings!