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InfoQ Homepage News Macros Have Been Dropped from Visual Studio 11

Macros Have Been Dropped from Visual Studio 11

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As of version 11, macros will no longer be available in Visual Studio. This marks the first version in nearly a decade to not allow for crating ad-hock extensions to the IDE. Fully compiled extensions can still be created and new project templates are included to make that process much easier.

According to Microsoft’s usage tracking data, macros in Visual Studio are currently being used by less than 1% of all developers. This alone isn’t enough to cause Microsoft to drop the feature, the macro feature in Visual Studio has also a disproportionately high maintenance cost. Unlike most other features, the macro support has to be updated and exhaustively tested for each new version of Visual Studio. In theory one should be able to record and replay any feature via the macro IDE, which places a huge maintenance burden on Microsoft.

According to Matt Kaufman, the macro IDE hasn’t been updated for several versions. Firing it up, one will quickly notice that it looks like an old version of Visual Studio. More troubling is the fact that it still only supports Visual Basic. One cannot use C# or any of the newer .NET languages to create macros.

As mentioned before, the support for extensibility now includes several new project templates. The current list, which is offered under both VB and C# follows:

  • Visual Studio Package: This is used for the older VSPackage style pugin-ins.
  • Editor Classifier: Used for creating your own syntax highlighting
  • Editor Margin: Used to adorn the margins in an editor window
  • Editor Text Adornment: Used to adorn text within an editor window
  • Editor Viewport Adornment: Used to place editor visuals relative to the editor’s visual surface
  • [VB/C#] Item Template
  • [VB/C#] Project Template
  • VSIX Project: This is the newer plug-in model that is most commonly seen in the Visual Studio Gallery
  • Windows Forms Toolbox Control
  • WPF Toolbox Control

In addition to the language specific templates there is a generic extensibility folder containing:

  • Visual Studio Add-In: This is a wizard that lets you create add-ins using C#, VB, C++ ATL, or C++ CLR.
  • Visual Studio Package: This is another wizard that lets you choose between C#, VB, and C++.
  • Visual Studio Shell Isolated: This lets one create applications based on the Visual Studio IDE itself. An early example of this is the AddOn Studio for World of Warcraft.

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