Deciding When to Add a Feature to an Add-in

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Keep in mind that every time you run into a tough editing problem, it doesn't necessarily mean that you need to add a new feature to your existing add-in. Determining whether to build an add-in is kind of like doing a quick marketing survey to determine if there's a market for a new product. Make sure you don't spend a lot of time creating a new feature that you'll only use once. In such cases, it's probably not worth the time and effort to create the new feature.

However, as I look at Visual Studio .NET, I constantly see places with room for new features or improvements on existing features. Obviously, Microsoft developers can't think of everything. They've made strides of geometric proportions since the early days of Visual Basic, but many times application developers like you and me are constantly running into new challenges that the tool developers will never encounter. If I didn't make my living as an application developer, I probably would never have written an add-in.

As I work with Visual Studio .NET, I see a world of new functionality, but again, there are obvious holes. As an add-in developer, I can capitalize on these holes. As an enterprise developer, you can use the functionality if you take the time to be creative and develop your own add-in functionality. I'm not going to take the time here to try to think of and list every place you could improve the IDE. However, I do suggest just two or three new features right now and others at a later time. I suggest them because you'll use them in the enhancement of your add-in.

For example, Visual Studio .NET has a good commenting and uncommenting feature. However, most programmers would like to have the comments "blocked" with a header and footer denoting the name of the developer that changed the code, the date of the change, and possibly a reason for the change.

In previous versions of the Visual Basic IDE, there was no way to easily indent your code to keep it readable. This was a place for the add-in developer to shine. Now in .NET indentation is automatic. However, the indent feature does not take continuation lines into consideration. Consequently, the first and subsequent continued lines are lined up at the same place. This does not make for good readability. A smart indenting feature will not only indent the second and subsequent lines, but it will also give you an option for how many spaces to indent the continued lines.

I offer one more possibility that you might want to consider if you really want to get into heavy features in an add-in. In Visual Studio .NET, the IDE has some powerful features for aligning, sizing, and spacing controls on a form. But if the form is locked, which is normally the case, to prevent the accidental movement of controls with a mouse click, the formatting buttons are disabled and therefore of no value. Why that was done is beyond my comprehension. In VB 6.0, at least you could "nudge" the controls for sizing and spacing through the use of the Shift, Ctrl, and arrow keys. But in .NET if the form is locked, it is really locked, and you cannot even nudge the controls. In my opinion, this is not a step in the right direction. It is obvious that some work can be done in an add-in to improve on the ability to manipulate controls on a form.

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Writing Add-Ins for Visual Studio  .NET
Writing Add-Ins for Visual Studio .NET
ISBN: 1590590260
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2002
Pages: 172
Authors: Les Smith © 2008-2017.
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