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.

Visual Assist build 2248 is available

Visual Assist build 2248 closes our dealing with recent bugs in Windows 10 and a problem with Visual Studio 2017. Prior posts in this blog describe the bugs and the workarounds, but the outcome of the ordeal is that if you use Windows 10—version 1703 or 1709—update to the latest build from Microsoft. And if you use Visual Studio 2017, update to build 15.5 of the IDE. Visual Assist operates as expected with the updates.

Find References, a staple of Visual Assist for more than a decade, was improved in build 2219 such that results designate, and can be filtered on, class creation/construction hits. Build 2248 extends the hits to include calls to CreateInstance and CoCreateInstance. Toggle the hits by pressing ‘c’ in a result window; see only the hits with the ‘d’, ‘r’, and ‘s’ toggles.

Code Inspection continues to mature in build 2248 with three new quality checks, all of which can be quick fixed:

  • Range-based loop variable can be a const reference
  • Local variable can be a const reference
  • Prefer transparent functor

With build 2248, game developers who use Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) get specifier completion for the UCLASS(), USTRUCT(), UFUNCTION(), and UPROPERTY() macros. If you develop with the engine, be sure to set the registry to make Visual Assist compatible with UE4. The registry setting enables the specifier completion as well as other UE4-specific behavior.

Build 2248 requires software maintenance through 2017.12.16.

Check out the complete list of what’s new in build 2248, learn about toggling within Find References, or download the installer.

Visual Assist build 2237 is available

Visual Assist build 2237 fixes one bug applicable only to users with Unreal Engine 4 (UE4). The fix prevents a hang of Visual Studio that might occur when smart suggestions appear for UPARAM().

If you develop with UE4, download the installer for build 2237.

If you don’t develop with UE4, or have no idea what UE4 is, you are welcome to skip the build.

Visual Assist build 2237 requires software maintenance through 2017.10.03.

Visual Assist build 2235 is available

Two recent, significant additions to Visual Assist—Source Links and Code Inspection—continue to mature in build 2235. The build also provides a valuable set of enhancements and fixes for established features of Visual Assist.

Source Links now opens hyperlinks found in comment blocks using one’s external, default browser. And although Microsoft finally introduced the functionality in Visual Studio 2017 15.3, Visual Assist makes it available in all versions of Visual Studio going back to 2010. Additionally, Source Links opens website addresses written without the http or https protocol.

Code Inspection expands its set of quality checks by two in build 2235:

  • Integer literal can be replaced with ‘true’ or ‘false’
  • Reduce container capacity with shrink_to_fit() instead of copy and swap

Code Inspection also allows fine tuning of quick fixes, configured in the options dialog for Visual Assist:

Developers taking advantage of lightweight solution load of C/C++ projects in Visual Studio 2017 15.3 will find that the Open-File-in-Solution dialog of Visual Assist list files in lightweight-loaded projects as deferred.

Visual Assist parses files in deferred projects as the projects, or their containing solutions, are loaded.

Finally, build 2235 expands the options dialog for Visual Assist with pages that configure the behavior of GoTo Implementation (Alt+G), GoTo Related (Shift+Alt+G), and VA Hashtags.

Build 2235 requires software maintenance through 2017.09.25.

Learn to connect to external applications and website using Source Links, check out the complete list of what’s new in build 2235, or download the installer.

Visual Assist build 2231 is available

Build 2231 provides several small but noteworthy improvements for all users of Visual Assist, and one extraordinary improvement for developers who use also Unreal Engine 4 (UE4).

Visual Assist typically parses all files in a solution, and the system headers it includes, the first time a solution is opened. For a large solution, parsing might take a few minutes. For a solution that includes UE4, parsing might take tens of minutes.

Build 2231 improves initial parse times for all large solutions. For typical solutions, parse times drop 10-20% with the new build. For UE4 solutions, parse times can drop a whopping 75%. For UE4, the reduction can be so great you might assume Visual Assist is broken; it’s not. It’s faster.

Source Links, which turns comment expressions into links to external applications, was introduced in the last blog post. With build 2231, the feature can now find strings by regular expression, not just keyword, so you can connect more often to more external applications. For example, if candidate links to an external bug tracker sometimes include a prefix ‘c’ that must be excluded from tracker URLs:

You can extract values, e.g. “2134”, via a regular expression that accounts for the optional ‘c’ and includes named group “VALUE”:

Also, if you write a custom Source Links plug-in to connect to an external application, you can now tell Visual Assist where to find your plug-in.

Build 2231 also improves support for NuGet projects, projects that include Google Test, and multiple monitors in mixed-mode DPI.

Build 2231 requires software maintenance through 2017.08.15.

Check out the complete list of what’s new in build 2231, learn about Source Links, learn to enable support for UE4, or download the installer.

Visual Assist build 2223 is available

This post is a 2-for-1 build announcement: 2219 and 2223. Build 2219 made some nice improvements to Visual Assist but a day after release of the build, several bugs were discovered in it. Build 2223 is the bug-fix build. This announcement for build 2223 includes the improvements of build 2219.

Source Links, previously a standalone extension available only in the Visual Studio gallery, is now integrated into Visual Assist. If your code comments refer to external applications or websites, Source Links will connect those references to the external systems. You will be able to hover over references to see tooltips, and double-click to jump directly into external systems. Source Links are ideal for connecting code comments to bug trackers, case managers, documentation, and source code control systems.

A popular and long-time staple of Visual Assist, Open File in Solution (Shift+Alt+O), received a few improvements. The dialog now allows inclusion of files not explicitly part of a solution but are in solution directories, and inclusion of files otherwise hidden by extension.

On a related note, symbols in solution files that reside in a “\Program Files” directory are now considered stable, and therefore can appear in italics. (Previously, no solution file was ever considered stable.) The change was driven primarily to accommodate binary distributions of Unreal Engine 4 whose stable engine files are part of every game solution. If you develop with a binary distribution of UE4 installed to “\Program Files”, enable italics on the Coloring-and-Attributes page of the options dialog for Visual Assist.

Also primarily for UE4 users, the priority of the parsing threads of Visual Assist can be lowered.

Code Inspection continues to suggest more improvements. The feature now inspects for:

  • Check emptiness with empty() instead of size()
  • Redundant get() on smart pointer
  • Redundant ‘return’ or ‘continue’ statement
  • Reset unique_ptr with ‘= nullptr’ instead of ‘delete p.release()’

Build 2223 requires software maintenance through 2017.06.22.

Learn about Source Links, check out the complete list of what’s new in build 2223, or download the installer.