How to Set Up VA

Visual Assist is a coding productivity tool for C++ and C# developers. It extends Visual Studio to make the programming experience better by providing tools for understanding code, checking code, and writing code. Some of its benefits include fast navigation, code inspection and modernization, many refactorings, code correction, Unreal Engine 4 support (for which it is famous), and code assistance. In this article, we will walk through the steps needed to set up Visual Assist and show you a very brief overview of how to use it.

1. Installing Visual Assist

First, visit the Whole Tomato Visual Assist website to download the installer. You can use Visual Assist for free for a month as a trial, or alternatively, you can choose to buy a license from the get-go. Keep in mind that once your free trial is over, you will need to buy the license to keep using it.

On the main page, click the red “Try it for free” button, and on the next page, click “Download Free Trial” to download the installer.  

Before downloading the file, you will need to fill in some required information.

Once you have completed this step, your download will begin.

When you are done downloading the installation file, open it to begin the installation process. Visual Assist supports many versions of Visual Studio, and you can install it for any version you have on your computer.

Once the installation is complete, you can immediately start making use of Visual Assist.

When you run Visual Studio, Visual Assist will show you a tip. You can turn this off, but we recommend you keep it on since it shows helpful information about what you can achieve each time you start.

And that’s it! Visual Assist is installed. 

Visual Assist is very powerful but has a very low UI. That’s great for power users who know it well, but if you’re new to using it, it can be harder to discover all the things it can do. Read on for a short intro about using it with a new application. 

Using Visual Assist

The following few steps show you how to create a new application in Visual C++. If you’re familiar with this, you can skip ahead to where we demonstrate Visual Assist.

When starting Visual Studio, you will be directed to the Welcome page, where you will be able to create new projects from the pop-up window. Click on “Create new project” to move to the next step.    

You can create different types of applications using Visual Studio. In this guide, we will create a Windows C++ application for the purpose of illustration. 

Select Windows Desktop Application (note the C++ label) to start building your app. You can select whichever type of application you are interested in building. Once this is complete and you have successfully configured your project, you will finally be able to make use of Visual Assist. Click on “Create” and watch the magic unfold.  

Note that Visual Assist is low UI to prevent it from getting in your way while making use of Visual Studio. Click on “Extensions” in the toolbar and navigate to “VAssistX,” which will present a list of functionalities that you can explore.

You can also access the Quick Action and Refactoring menu by using the following shortcut (Shift+Alt+Q). For a comprehensive list of keyboard shortcuts, click here.

3. Like Visual Assist?

When your trial comes to an end, you will be prompted to use a license. Select “Buy” to purchase a license or “Register” to use an existing one. 

By now you should be able to set up Visual Assist without any problem and start making use of it alongside Visual Studio. To find out more about Visual Assist and some of its functions, and why everyone from developers in major studios right down to students uses it, click here.

Bartłomiej Filipek Reveals Why He’s a Big Fan of Visual Assist

Bartłomiej Filipek Reveals Why He’s a Big Fan of Visual Assist

Bartlomiej Filipek is a software developer from the Polish city of Cracow. Bartek, as he prefers to be called, started coding when he was 14 years old, after reading “C++ in 24h”, and got his first real programming job in 2007. Bartek broad professional experience includes Native Windows Desktop Apps, OpenGL, Gamedev, BioFeedback games, .NET, large-scale app development, flight planning, and graphics driver coding. As a master’s student he also created lectures about OpenGL and gamedev. Since 2014 he has worked as a C++ software developer for Xara.

Bartek took time to tell us about his experience with Visual Assist, and why he’s a big fan.

When did you start using Visual Assist and how long have you been using it?

It’s hard to recall, but it was very early in my professional career. After using Visual Studio (VS 2003 and 2005) for some time, I knew I needed some more productivity enhancements. Visual Studio 2005or 2008 wasn’t best at that. I searched for solutions and found Visual Assist – which was amazing.

What was it like building software before you had Visual Assist?

Visual Studio was great for development, but it lacked some essential improvements like the refactoring helpers. I wasn’t able to efficiently rename my variables or member functions. And most importantly, the speed of Intellisense was relatively poor on large solutions. Sometimes I had to wait a couple of seconds to get the list of methods for my object.

How does Visual Assist help you create your applications?

First of all, I love many refactoring tools that I get with VA. I can quickly and safely rename my variables, functions, and much more. Another important part is code extraction and the ability to move the code back and forth between a header file or the implementation. Additionally, VA is super fast with even larger projects, and I can quickly get a list of member functions, function signatures, and much more. Recently, I have also been exploring VA Code Inspections which helps with code modernization.

What made Visual Assist stand out from other options?I think it’s at least three elements:

I think it has three elements:

  • Performance (as it’s super fast even for large solutions)
  • Lots of refactoring capabilities 
  • Lots of options to understand and move through code faster

What made you happiest about working with Visual Assist?

I like the overall speed of Virtual Assist, I can quickly jump around my code, see definitions, list member functions and even make notes with Hashtags.

What have you been able to achieve through using Virtual Assist to help create your applications?

I think I can write safer code (thanks to code inspections), avoid code smells (like large functions because I can quickly make them smaller with code extraction tools). And overall, it contributes to better quality and readability of my code.

What are some future plans for your applications?

At Xara – my main job – we plan to make some great enhancements to our powerful document online editor. For my other projects, especially blogs and educational content, I hope to experiment with some latest C++ 20 features and practice good modern C++ techniques.


Thank you, Bartek! You can find the link to Bartek’s blog here

https://www.wholetomato.com/downloads