Visual Assist build 2341.2 is available

The last build of Visual Assist, i.e. build 2341, introduced a bug for users of Microsoft Visual Studio 2019. If you use Microsoft’s newest IDE and installed build 2341, download and install build 2341.2.

Build 2341.2 requires software maintenance through 2019.08.05.

Check out the complete list of what’s new in build 2341.2, or download its installer.

Visual Assist build 2341 is available

The steady stream of functional and quality improvements to Visual Assist continues despite the recent hiccups with new purchasing and licensing systems. (Those systems are being ironed out.)

Visual Assist build 2341 improves one of its earliest features—enhanced syntax coloring—with the ability to set separate coloring for namespace identifiers and qualifiers, and enum members. Separate coloring of namespace identifiers and qualifiers was implemented primarily so the qualifiers can be dimmed, making it easier to read “remaining” code.

Another early feature of Visual Assist, Quick Info, became an enhancement to Visual Studio when Microsoft introduced its equivalent eons ago. Visual Assist build 2341 enhances the feature yet again by including in tooltips comments from parent classes. The additional comments are especialy valuable when referencing methods that override well-documented ones. Comments for the current symbol now include those from the immediate parent class, and the root parent.

Finally, build 2341 improves Encapsulate Field, a refactoring that lets you restrict or filter access to a member field. Encapsulate Field now allows an accessor to be omitted.

Build 2341 requires software maintenance through 2019.07.11.

Check out the complete list of what’s new in build 2341; learn to specify enhanced syntax colorslearn to enhance Quick Info; or download the installer for build 2341.

Visual Studio 2019 moves VAssistX to Extensions menu

Microsoft Visual Studio 2019 moved all extension menus, including the VAssistX menu of Visual Assist, to a new, top-level Extensions menu. According to Mads Kristensen, a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft, the menus were moved to “give the ecosystem more prominence and declutter the top-level menu when you have a lot of extensions installed“. That reasoning might be solid, but it does require an extra keystroke or click to reach extension commands.

In prior versions of Visual Studio, the VAssistX menu is opened via a single Alt+X. That shortcut, fortuitously, now opens the Extensions menu. In Visual Studio 2019, a subsequent X opens the VAssistX menu within the Extensions menu.

If you are a keyboard user of Visual Studio 2019, use Alt+X, X to reach any VAssistX command previously reached with Alt+X. And when you in the documentation for Visual Assist, know that you must use Alt+X, X every time you read Alt+X.

Those looking to restore old behavior in Visual Studio 2019 might find Extensions in Main menu useful. If you try the extension and want a single Alt+X to open VAssistX, use ‘Tools | Customize |Commands’ to change the accelerator key for Extensions, e.g. from &x to &i.

Visual Assist build 2331 is available

Extensibility has long been a strength of Microsoft Visual Studio, but extending the IDE too greatly can impede its startup. Thus, many developers are familiar with Visual Studio’s yellow status message that suggests an extension is likely causing slow startup. To alleviate slow startups, Microsoft has encouraged partners to load their extensions asynchronously. That encouragement is now a requirement in Microsoft’s latest IDE. In Visual Studio 16.1 Preview 1, extensions must load asynchronously.

Visual Assist build 2331 supports Visual Studio 16.1 Preview 1, and therefore loads asynchronously. In the new IDE, Visual Assist loads as soon as possible, often without noticeable delay. But, there are a few startup scenarios, e.g. when starting Visual Studio without a solution, that do expose subtle changes in loading.

You will know that Visual Assist is completely loaded in Visual Studio 2019 if the extension responds as you expect, or when notice appears in the status bar.

Visual Assist is not completely loaded if it looks or feels broken in the moments after startup, before a solution is loaded, or within seconds of loading a solution. Signs of incomplete loading include a toolbar that begins with disabled icons,

empty tool windows,

and failure to respond to commands in an editor window.

If Visual Assist is not completely loaded, coax it along by opening a solution, then wait a few seconds. If you try a command in an editor window and the command doesn’t work, simply retry it. Loading should have completed in the interim.

Build 2231 also adds a new command to insert a file path into the active document. The command is useful when working in strings and comments. Access Insert-Path via the VAssistX menu (Alt+X, T, P).

Build 2331 requires software maintenance through 2019.04.19

Check out the complete list of what’s new in build 2331; learn more about Insert Path; or download the installer for build 2331.

Visual Assist build 2324 is available

Microsoft’s recent spate of builds of Visual Studio 2019 is driving the recent succession of builds of Visual Assist. Build 2324 is no exception. It’s only feature of note is support for Visual Studio 2019 RC.

If, for some reason, you are still using Visual Studio 2019 Preview 1-3, Visual Assist build 2324 will install to your IDE, but know that Visual Assist is no longer supported in the environment.

Build 2324 requires software maintenance through 2019.03.08.

Check out the complete list of what’s new in build 2324, or download its installer.

Visual Assist builds 2316 and 2318 are available

For those experimenting with Microsoft Visual Studio 2019, you will be pleased to know that support for Visual Assist in the preview releases of the new IDE is underway.

The two builds of Visual Assist, builds 2316 and 2318, were introduced in short succession to support the first two previews builds of the new IDE. Both builds install to all previews of the IDE, including to Preview 3, despite our installer’s claim it’s installing to Preview 2. Support is beta quality. See release notes for known issues.

Build 2316 includes several bug fixes, and just one additional improvement. The build improves access to the command to insert VA Snippets of large or infrequently used blocks of code. Open the VA Quick Action and Refactoring menu (Shift+Alt+Q) in whitespace, and select Insert VA Snippet.

Build 2318 includes support for a new licensing system that 1) includes a customer portal to track new licenses and their renewals of software maintenance, and 2) simplifies the adding of licensees to a team with the new licenses.

Beginning with build 2318, you can register a new license of Visual Assist using VAssistX | Help | Register. If you have a two-line activation key, you can reach the traditional enter-key dialog by opening the registration dialog, then clicking “Legacy product registration with two-line activation key” at its bottom.

Build 2316 requires software maintenance through 2019.02.05, and build 2318 requires maintenance through 2019.02.17

Check out the complete list of what’s new in builds 2316 and 2318; learn more about VA Snippets or the new registration process, or download the installer for build 2316 or build 2318.

Visual Assist build 2302 is available

Honestly, the title of this post should be “Visual Assist build 2302 has been available for a long time”. I have been lax in writing.

Fortunately, if you enable notifications of new builds in the options dialog of Visual Assist, you would have discovered build 2302 not long after it was released. And if you clicked through a what’s-new link, you would have learned what improved with the build. I write today primarily for those who do not get in-product notifications of new builds yet follow these build announcements.

Build 2302, released mid-December, is a follow-on to build 2301—a build that did not reach the threshold of in-product notifications. Hence, this post describes what’s new in builds 2302 and 2301.

If you are one to “access the future of Visual Studio” and are already experimenting with Visual Studio 2019, build 2302 has preliminary support for the preview build of the IDE. See our release notes for known issues.

For those of you who have debugged multi-threaded applications, you have undoubtedly been annoyed by the debugger’s switching to a thread you are *not* debugging only because another thread hit a breakpoint. You lose context and have no easy way to return to debugging of the first thread.

Build 2301 introduces a command, Bind Breakpoints to the Current Thread, that does what its name implies. When enabled, other threads that hit breakpoints are automatically continued, and you can debug in peace. Toggle the command via icon in the Visual Assist toolbar, or entry in the VAssistX menu (Alt+X, B, T).

Build 2301 introduces another command, Skip All Breakpoints, to improve the debugging experience in Visual Studio. Until the build, switching between the debugging of different parts of an application was cumbersome. One could not tell the debugger to honor only breakpoints in a single part of an application; one had to skip unrelated breakpoints individually, or disable and lose them all. With Skip All Breakpoints, you can effectively toggle all unrelated breakpoints so they are skipped automatically. To debug one part of an application, Skip All Breakpoints, then return breakpoints in the one part to their default state. Get to the command via icon in the Visual Assist toolbar, or entry in the VAssistX menu (Alt+X, B, B).

For those who use Source Links to connect substrings in comment blocks to external applications and websites, you will be pleased to know that Visual Assist [finally] supports sharing of link definitions. When a solution is open, create a shared solution definition via the Add-button drop-down.

Shared solution definitions are created in a subdirectory of the solution directory, .va\shared\SourceLinks, that can be checked into source control that, in turn, makes the shared definition available in read-only mode to all users of Visual Assist.

Builds 2302 and 2301 also improve support for Unicode and UTF-8, and improve code generation for users of Unreal Engine 4 (UE4).

Build 2302 requires software maintenance through 2018.12.13.

Check out the complete list of what’s new in build 2302; learn more about the debugging features in Visual Assist, or download the installer for build 2302.