VB 2005: Things to know about the Visual Studio 2005 IDE

When you first started your Visual Studio 2005 you were asked to specify the default settings and I set mine to Visual Basic Development Settings.  If you want to change this setting, say to Visual C# Development Settings, you need to go to Tools -> Import and Export Settings… and go through the wizard to change it.

When you go create a new project, one of the project templates that you can select is Database.  This project template lets you create classes that can run inside SQL Server 2005.  Note that there is another project template of the same name under the Other Project Types option.  They are not the same.

If you have used a previous Microsoft development tool (e.g. Visual Studio 6.0), you will notice that the Solution Explorer is similar to the project group, except that it can contain projects of any .NET language and may include database, testing, and installation projects as part of the overall solution.

Application settings are now stored in an XML file named app.config but when you create a new project, it does not create one by default.  Since this app.config file is stored in the application directory, you can run different versions of your application without encountering problems that you usually get if the settings were stored in the Windows Registry.

When you get to the Assembly Information screen (by double-clicking the My Project on the Solution Explorer and on the Application tab display, clicking the Assembly Information… button), you will notice the GUID attribute there.  The value of that attribute is used as the ID of the type library that will be created when the assembly is made visible to COM applications (the checkbox Make assembly COM-Visible is checked).

A new feature in the code window is outlining.  You will notice a + or sign on the left side of your code window.  This allows you to hide or show portions of your code.  If you don’t like this feature you can disable it by selecting Edit -> Outlining -> Stop Outlining.  To bring outlining back, select Edit -> Outlining -> Collapse to Definitions

There is also this #Region directive that allows you to hide regions of code.  The code should be enclosed with #Region at top and #End Region at the end.  There should be a description after the #Region keyword which will be shown when this region of code is collapsed.  Example of code enclosed with the #Region directive:

    #Region "My region of code"
    Private Sub mySub()
        ' ...
    End Sub
    #End Region

You’ll notice in the Visual Studio 2005 IDE, that all the files that you are working on are in tabbed layout unlike in previous versions of Visual Studio, they are in MDI layout.  If you prefer the MDI layout, just go to Tools -> Options and under the Environment -> General category, on the Window layout section, select Multiple documents.

Tools -> Options is the place to customize your IDE.  It has customizations for your text editor like line numbering which if you turn it on will number all your lines of code.

You might also want to use the Dynamic Help feature in the IDE.  To show this window, select Help -> Dynamic Help or press Ctrl+Alt+F4.  This feature tries to guess what you are trying to do and shows a list of things that you might be interested in looking at.


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