Visual Assist build 2074 is available

Visual Assist build 2074 fixes two bugs, critical for some users, discovered shortly after the release of build 2073. One fix resolves a conflict with Windows Driver Kit (WDK) 10 that prevented files from being added to solutions. The second fix lets Visual Assist recognize extension-less headers in UNC paths, e.g. \\server\path\path\header.

Build 2074 is required if you have Windows Driver Kit (WDK) 10 installed or use extension-less headers in UNC paths.

Check out what’s new recently or download the 2074 installer.

Visual Assist build 2073 is available

Visual Assist build 2073 introduces several new commands and features to make you more productive. But, now that the list of features in Visual Assist has grown to nearly a hundred, you will be pleased to know one new feature in build 2073 gives you easier access to the other 99.

Open the new context menu of Visual Assist any time you find yourself unsure what features are available. The VA Context Menu shows all the possibilities for the current file, symbol, or position in the editor.

VaContextMenu

If you are a keyboard-only user, open the menu via a shortcut for VAssistX.OpenContextMenu. If you use a mouse, assign a modified button in the options dialog for Visual Assist.

VaContextMenuMiddleClick

Build 2073 also introduces Add Missing Case Statements, a feature to which Tamás alluded in the last blog entry. As the name suggests, the feature will flush out the cases for a switch on enum. Access the command from the Quick Refactoring Menu (Shift+Alt+Q) or new VA Context Menu.

addMissingCaseStatements

Next, if you are responsible for debugging a crash dump with a call stack that is corrupt or has been optimized for release, you will surely want to check out VA Memory View. The new tool window displays addresses pointed to by the ESP in the form of a call stack.

memoryView

Build 2073 also includes improvements to Smart Select and VA Snippets, better responsiveness when editing large solutions, and official support for Visual Studio 2015 RTM. Check out the complete list of what’s new in build 2073 or download the installer.

A Developer of Visual Assist Saves Energy

I am a long-time member of the development team for Visual Assist. I also read a lot, often about the workings of the brain.

I read recently Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. The author divides thinking methods into fast and slow. Fast is automatic; slow requires effort. Fast occurs when you drive a car on an empty road; you have capacity to think about something else. Slow occurs when you multiply 43×15 in your head.

“As you become skilled in a task, its demand for energy diminishes,” writes Mr. Kahneman. “Studies of the brain have shown that the pattern of activity associated with an action changes as skill increases, with fewer brain regions involved.”

The author goes on to write, “a general law of least effort applies to cognitive as well as physical exertion. The law asserts that if there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course of action. In the economy of action, effort is a cost, and the acquisition of skill is driven by the balance of benefits and costs. Laziness is built deep into our nature.”

Fair point: I often prefer to be lazy—when I think and when I exert myself physically.

“But, why do I write about brain matters in a blog about Visual Assist?” you ask. I write because Mr. Kahneman’s assertion might articulate—in nerd speak—the deep reason I like Visual Assist.

Take the following scenario of simple code generation: flushing out case statements for a switch on an enum. I have completed this scenario so often it now requires only fast thinking. I go to an enum declaration using Alt+G, select its cases, copy-paste them into my switch body, and execute a couple of tricks like search and replace, block select to insert “case” before each enum item, and finish the task.

I suspect you invent your own steps for the code-editing scenarios you tackle repeatedly. Your slow-thinking tasks become fast-thinking ones with repetition. The tasks become mundane. You are driving a car on an empty road.

When I find myself in such a state of “driving”, I have capacity to think about Visual Assist. I often wonder if I can give my mundane, fast-thinking task entirely to Visual Assist. I wonder if I can get more lazy.

As a developer of Visual Assist, I have the luxury of implementing features in Visual Assist to pursue the laziness that Mr. Kahneman says is deep in my nature.

And as a user of Visual Assist, I take advantage of the product’s many features because they provide the least demanding courses of action. Visual Assist lets me conserve my energy.

I am hooked on creating Visual Assist, and hooked on using it.

Look for Add Missing Case Statements in the next build of Visual Assist.