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Here’s a feature that you might have missed in Visual Studio 2013 RC. It’s one of my absolute favorite features because it solves a very common problem that I often run into when building websites.

I think it’s better to just show you what this feature does instead of writing about it. Check out the video below.

This means you no longer have to manually add references to any JavaScript file in order to get Intellisense for that file. When auto-sync is enabled in /Scripts/_references.js then you will always have Intellisense for all your .js files in your project no matter where they are located.

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A little while back, Sayed Hashimi and I built the Web Developer Checklist Chrome extension as a companion for the website webdevchecklist.com. We built the extension in Visual Studio and quickly realized that we could optimize the development experience substantially by tweaking the build process along with other details.

From that experience, we now have a project template that contains all you need for writing a Chrome extension and it is available for download.

The project template gives you the following features:

  • JavaScript Intellisense for the Google Chrome object model
  • Folder structure suited for production ready Google Chrome extensions
  • MSBuild integration to produce .zip files to upload to the Google Web Store

It’s all explained in this short demo video.

As always, this project template is open source on GitHub.

Download the Visual Studio project template

Here’s a Channel9 video where Sayed explains how he modified the build system for this template if you’re interested. It starts around 13 minutes in.

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Earlier this year, Sayed and I released Web Developer Checklist to help web developer adhere to best practices. Checklists like these can be really helpful to make sure we don’t forget anything before releasing new or updated websites.

imageNow we’re introducing Web Developer Checklist as a Chrome extension that can automate a big portion of the checklist. The extension let’s you run checks for various best practices on any website - including your own running from localhost.

It performs a serious of checks by analyzing the DOM as well as integrating with 3rd-party services like Google PageSpeed.

Next steps

This first version of the Web Developer Checklist Chrome extension does a serious of really valuable checks. The next releases will have even more.

Specifically, we’re looking at adding:

  • HTML validation
  • CSS validation
  • Accessibility validation
  • JSHint
  • CssLint
  • Guidance for each item Done v.1.4.4

We think these checks would be hugely beneficial. If you have ideas for other checks that can be automated, please let us know in the comments below.

Open source

The Web Developer Checklist Chrome extension is open source and hosted on our GitHub org. As always, pull requests are more than welcome.

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When coding, I use both of my hands for typing and both my eyes fixed on the code I’m writing. When I don’t know a certain keyboard shortcut, I reach for the mouse and in doing so, look away from the main Visual Studio window. My hands stop typing. I’m not productive anymore. For me, being productive is the foundation of my developer happiness.

Loss of productivity = developer unhappiness

Another situation that sometimes occur is when I’m in the zone coding like I’m on steroids. We’ve all tried that. It’s the best and most fulfilling part of being a developer. Highly productive and my developer happiness is at max. When I’m in the zone, nothing disturbs me. I don’t notice people entering or leaving the room and sometimes not even various status messages inside Visual Studio. Did the build just fail? What about the unit tests? I have no idea and that could be problematic.

My eyes are used for seeing what’s on the screen (input) and my hands are used for typing (output). The problem is that I only have 1 pair of hands, 1 pair of eyes and I’m using both. I’ve maxed out my IO.

The body parts useful for coding is a limited resource

Mother nature did provide us with much higher IO bandwidth than what can be achieved by only using eyes and hands. One of them is sound. The ears are hearing (input) and your voice is speaking (output).

So why not try to increase our IO using sound? What if we could hear when the build brakes? What if we, using our voice, could tell our editor to format the document in case we forgot that keyboard shortcut? It seems like a perfectly reasonable idea to me.

To experiment with this idea, I wrote two extensions for Visual Studio 2012.

Voice Commands

preview

This extension let’s you speak any command out load. The extension will be able to recognize the voice command and execute it in Visual Studio.

It really is impressive how far speech recognition has come since I started playing around with it in the early nineties. All credit is given to the researchers and developers who kept evolving Windows Speech Recognition through all those years.

I started pronouncing each word very clearly, because I expected it would more easily recognize the words like that. What I’ve found is quite the opposite. You have to speak to it like you would speak to any normal human being. It felt counter intuitive, but that’s how far speech recognition has come. The accuracy is astonishing.

Voice Commands starts listening when you type Alt+V. Then just speak any command, such asFormat Document,Save All,Options,Toggle bookmark,Collapse To Definition.

Download:VS Gallery
Source code:GitHub

Farticus

farticusBecause every app store needs a fart app – including the Visual Studio Gallery.

Granted, this is a joke. However, it’s a joke in disguise, because it does solve my problem of missing occasional build errors by playing a sound every time the build breaks. With Farticus installed, I’ve never missed a build error.

Sayed and I build Farticus with a few goals in mind:

 

  1. It should be useful and solve a real problem
  2. It must be open source
  3. It should be easy for others to learn from the code

Don’t like the fart sounds? No problem. Fork the project and substitute the sounds with more appropriate ones. Doh! or You can’t do that, Dave comes to mind. Why not play a sound when unit tests fail as well? Fork the source code and release your own version or send us a pull request and we’ll add it to Farticus.

Download: VS Gallery
Source code: GitHub

So there you have it folks. Two extensions that adds a natural user interface to Visual Studio and adds some body parts to our coding arsenal.