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.

Visual Assist build 2291 is available

Visual Assist build 2291 is a minor release that fine tunes several, well-loved features–ones that seem never to be finished.

Find References (Shift+Alt+F) in Visual Assist is the big brother of the like-named command in Visual Studio. (At one time, Visual Assist provided the only version.) The results window of the Visual Assist command has long allowed collapsing of project and file nodes, but the UI to that ability was ill-suited for large solutions. Build 2291 changes that. New commands in the context menu of a results window let you collapse and expand all nodes, or collapse just the file nodes.

Collapsing all nodes is especially useful before a Find (Ctrl+F) in the dialog, because the Find automatically expands the next node that contains a found string, making it easy to locate only references of interest.

VA Hashtags, a favorite of those who have learned to use the feature, has long allowed hiding and unhiding of “noisy” hashtags. But, unhiding could be applied only to all hashtags. Build 2291 changes that. With the build, and assuming hidden hashtags are shown dimmed, unhiding is now available on individual per scope of hiding: project, directory, file, and hashtag.

Open File in Solution (OFIS) (Shift+Alt+O), arguably the most-used feature of Visual Assist, also received a small improvement. A previous build introduced the persistent filter–a filter applied automatically, every time the OFIS dialog opened. That filter can now be toggled per dialog–applying and not applying the persistent filter. Use Ctrl+R to toggle the persistent filter.

Finally, build 2291 continues our ongoing commitment to Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) with several game-development tweaks to the code-generation features of Visual Assist.

Build 2291 requires software maintenance through 2018.09.21.

Check out the complete list of what’s new in build 2291; learn about collapsing and expanding nodes in a Find References results window, hiding and unhiding of VA Hashtags, or persistent filtering in the OFIS dialog; or download the installer for build 2291.

Visual Assist build 2283.2 is available

We strive to release only high-quality builds of Visual Assist, but this latest round required a few attempts to get right. Fortunately, build 2283.2 is worth the wait. It has several, oft-requested improvements.

The dialog for Open File in Solution (Shift+Alt+O), improved just a few months ago, now includes a second edit field that lets you define persistent filters—ones active for all searches—thereby easily hiding extraneous files from the dialog. Display the second edit field via the context menu of the dialog.

Entering filtering strings to persist to all searches. For example, enter “-.moc_” to hide Qt files that begin “moc_”.

If you hide the second edit field, its filters continue to be applied to all searches. You need to empty the edit field to restore default behavior.

Users of Jira issue tracking will be pleased to know build 2283.2 includes a built-in plug-in that makes references to Jira issues in comments active Source Links. If you enable and configure the plug-in, hover over issues that include a Jira keyword to view information about respective issues.

Double-click a link to open an issue in a browser window.

Build 2283.2 also includes Add Forward Declaration, a code-generation command available in headers for pointer and reference members added to class definitions and method declarations. Access the command from the Quick Action and Refactoring menu (Shift+Alt+Q).

Teams that rely on Visual Assist will be happy to know it’s easier to share solution-related settings of Visual Assist in $(SOLUTIONDIR)\.va\. Rules for hiding VA Hashtags are written to .va\user\.vahashtags by default; designated users can maintain the file, then copy it manually to .va\shared\ where it will be read by all users of Visual Assist. And, solution-specific filters for the VA Step Filter can be written to .va\shared\, via setting in the options dialog of Visual Assist, for use by all users.

Build 2283.2 requires software maintenance through 2018.08.02.

Check out the complete list of what’s new in build 2238.2; learn about persistent filtering in OFIS, Jira plug-in, or Add Forward Declaration; or download the installer for build 2283.2.

Visual Assist build 2270 is available

Exhibiting at the Game Developer Conference (GDC) in March gave us the rare opportunity to interact—face to face—with a lot of Visual Assist users. Those who visited our booth picked up tips and swag, and left behind terrific feedback. The interactions gave us a better understanding of how Visual Assist is used, and how we could improve an already great product. A few of the improvements are included in Visual Assist build 2270, which is now available.

Source Links, introduced last June, was upgraded in build 2270 to support previewing of files whose paths appear in source comments. When Source Links and its File Viewer plug-in are enabled, hover over a path to see a preview of the file’s content. Preview-able formats include HTML, XAML, RTF, text, and image formats such as png and jpg.

Right+Click any path for file-related options.

Find References (Shift+Alt+F) has always been faster and more feature-rich than the built-in equivalent. In build 2270, the feature’s dialog was tweaked to indicate the effect of the filtering toggles D, S, R, and M.

Right+Click in a results window for toggle meanings.

Build 2270 continues our suite of improvements for users of Unreal Engine 4 (UE4). In addition to better parsing and coloring, settings related to UE4 are now easily accessed on a new page in the options dialog of Visual Assist.

Finally, Code Inspection was moved out-of-process to reduce the memory footprint of Visual Assist, thereby reducing the likelihood of an out-of-memory crash of Visual Studio.

Build 2270 requires software maintenance through 2018.04.30.

Check out the complete list of what’s new in build 2270, enable the File Viewer plug-in for Source Links, learn to filter results of Find References, or download the installer.

Visual Assist build 2258 is available

Visual Assist build 2258 is the first of the new calendar year and evidence of a return to normalcy at Whole Tomato. Last year’s dealing with bugs in the Fall Creators Update was an unwelcome distraction.

Long-time users of Visual Assist know that Open File in Solution (OFIS) has been a mainstay of Visual Assist since the product’s inception. Yet, there seems always room for improvement in the feature. With build 2258, the OFIS dialog now accepts target character positions when specified with a line number. The improvement better accommodates copying of diagnostic locations from build logs directly into the dialog.

OFIS (Shift+Alt+O) also recognizes when the current solution is in one of many directories under a git root, and expands the domain of searchable files to all files under the root—not just those within the current solution. Use the Ctrl+D toggle in the dialog to show/hide the relevant files.

For those who set bookmarks or manage to-do’s using VA Hashtags, you can now navigate the tool window of hashtags even though focus is in the edit field. Use Up-, Down-, Left-, and Right-Arrow to navigate nodes, and Enter to open/close or jump to a location.

Also with build 2258, game developers with Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) get better parsing, italics for local engine installations, smarter Create Implementation, and enabling of support for UE4 via the options dialog of Visual Assist.

Build 2258.5, with its bug fix for the options dialog, requires software maintenance through 2018.03.06.

Build 2258 requires software maintenance through 2018.02.20.

Check out the complete list of what’s new in build 2258; learn about character position in OFIS, hashtags navigation, or support for UE4; or dispense with more reading and download the installer for build 2258.5.