While you're working on a project, it's inevitable that you'll have to use several windows within Visual Studio .NET. As windows are opened, you may find yourself running out of room to work on your source code. Luckily, Visual Studio .NET contains several window-handling features to help reduce this clutter.
Although present in the previous version of Visual Studio, docking windows are still worth mentioning here. With the exception of the main source code windows, all the supporting child windows within Visual Studio .NET can be docked into various positions within the IDE. Docking means that a window can be anchored to a fixed position within the IDE, as opposed to a window that is floating and covering up windows underneath it. The default layout of Visual Studio contains several windows docked to the right side and bottom of the IDE, as you've seen in several figures throughout this book.
Although docking windows helps to organize your workspace, it doesn't do much to help with the clutter that could still result. The Visual Studio .NET IDE now supports auto-hiding windows. If you look at a docked window, you will see a small thumbtack icon in the upper-right corner. Once you click that icon, the window becomes an auto-hiding window. When the mouse cursor is in another part of the IDE, the auto-hiding window will collapse onto the edge of the IDE and display a small tab with the name of the window. When the mouse cursor hovers over that tab, the window will be shown. Figure B.3 shows a layout of Visual Studio .NET with the child windows automatically hidden.
Visual Studio .NET can save preset window layouts. If you find that a certain window layout is better suited for a particular programming language or if you don't like the default window layout, you can use one of the preset window layouts. To change the default window layout, click View, Web Browser, Home from the main menu. This will open the Visual Studio .NET Start page. In the list of links on the left of the Start page, click the My Profile link. Within the profile page, you can change either the developer profile (which changes various settings based on the profile you choose) or individual settings, such as keyboard and (as just mentioned) window layouts. Figure B.4 shows the My Profile page.
In addition to all the new features added to Visual Studio .NET, a few new windows have been added to the IDE:
Solution Explorer. The Solution Explorer is an enhancement to the File View present in the previous version of Visual Studio. The enhancement is primarily in the way icons are displayed based on the language used for the project. Also, the Solution Explorer displays all the projects contained within a single solution.
Command window. The Command window is designed for manually entering in automation commands. The IDE, like its predecessor, contains several automation commands that can be used by COM-enabled applications. With the Command window, you can enter the available commands to invoke these methods. Open the Command window by clicking View, Other Windows, Command Window. Enter the command File.AddNewProject. The Add New Project dialog will be displayed, as shown in Figure B.5.
Server Explorer. The Server Explorer acts as a server-management application within Visual Studio .NET. It allows you to open data connections and browse databases located on the local machine or on the network. The Server Explorer also lets you drag and drop nodes onto various designers within Visual Studio .NET.