Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Finding it hard to click on that little red line to bring up the menu?


I find it really hard to get the mouse in the right place to bring up the smart tag menu:


My favourite key combo in Visual Studio is Ctrl + . (hold down control, press the dot). If you do this when you have the cursor near the smart tag, the menu will pop up. You can then use the keyboard arrow keys to go up and down to select (Enter) the option you want.

Ctrl + .



Previous tips:

posted on Tuesday, September 30, 2008 9:16:16 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Monday, September 29, 2008

I've been using Vista since it came out, and to tell you the truth I haven't found it as annoying as it's made out to be -- and I develop with UAC still turned on :)

The Tweakguides site has a nice writeup of Vista annoyances, and how to resolve them:

  1. Constantly changing folder views - how to stop the folder view switching from details to large icons semi-randomly when you're in the file explorer.
  2. Nagging UAC prompts - not that there's anything wrong with it :)
  3. Constant hard drive activity - configure super fetch, indexing, defragmenting, malware scanning. I didn't realise the defragmenter still ran weekly.
  4. Vista has bad driver support - well that's really the device manufacturer's fault...
  5. Vista is a memory hog - I didn't understand what SuperFetch did before this.
  6. Drive space keeps shrinking - shadow copies, restore points and other stuff that fills up your drive.
  7. Windows Photo Gallery freezes - haven't had this problem myself.
  8. Vista's eye candy is a performance drain - not as bad as they say, really.
  9. Vista is loaded with DRM - huh?

I haven't run into many of these problems myself, but I've picked up a few interesting things reading this article.


posted on Monday, September 29, 2008 9:51:56 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]

I'm always underwhelmed by the 4 cent per litre discount vouchers offered by the supermarkets.

On our fill up yesterday, we saved the whopping total of $2.04 on our $100.94 petrol purchase, thanks to a supermarket voucher.

Dick Smiths have gone a bit higher with their discount - 49 cents per litre:


I've been using Fuelly for the past few months to track our fuel spending. I don't know that it's providing a lot of value, but it is cathartic to process my receipts as if it's somehow helping :)


posted on Monday, September 29, 2008 8:00:24 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]

Now this definitely isn't the right blog to answer that question, but James O'Neill has written a nice post that summarises my experience trying to get Server Core up and running. The long and the short of it is that you shouldn't bother for a one-off installation:

Server Core -- Too dry and crunchy?



posted on Monday, September 29, 2008 9:23:27 AM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sara Ford points to the release of Snippet Designer by Matthew Manela.

Snippets are a remarkably cool productivity tool within Visual Studio. I say "remarkable", because many people don't even know they exist!

It's great to have a UI over the top of the snippet XML files, which are a little painful to edit by hand. Snippet Designer lets you select a section of code, and export it to the designer to create a snippet:


(I had to cheat to get the screenshot of the menu... anyone know how to do that?)

Then you're dropped into the Snippet Explorer's designer surface, where you have three or four simple steps:


  1. Right-click a symbol and create a replacement (above, I turned the 'argument' variable into a replacement). A replacement is text that the user can edit when using your snippet.
  2. Edit the details of the replacement, including the default value and tooltip text.
  3. Add a shortcut to your snippet.
  4. (Optionally) Enter $selected$ $end$ where you'd like the cursor to appear after the snippet is finished. This is imported for SurroundsWith snippets, as the text you're surrounding will be replaced here.

Then simply save the snippet into your snippets directory inside My Documents (the default location is probably right), and now you can use your snippet when editing code.

Type the shortcut string (mine was 'fow'):


Press "Tab" "Tab":


And you end up in the first replacement variable, with the default value entered. Over-write the text with what it should be, and press Tab to jump to the next replacement. Continue pressing tab until everything is correct, and press Enter. You'll jump to the middle of the replacement text:


The snippet file is just XML, so you can edit it directly, or copy it to other computers easily.

There are a lot of snippets installed out of the box, you can browse them using the old Code Snippets Manager (under the Tools menu), or using the new Snippets Explorer installed by the Snippets Designer (under View -> Other Windows).

I'll be showing off the Snippets support in future Visual Studio tips n tricks talks. If you're interested in more tips, I have a Visual Studio 2008 series on this blog, or you can visit Sara Ford's blog.


posted on Saturday, September 27, 2008 11:29:59 AM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [3]
 Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Last month the guys from Mindscape released a Visual Studio File Explorer Addin. This is really useful if you don't have good source control integration within Visual Studio, or you want access to the full goodness available from an explorer window, but within Visual Studio.

The feature list:

  • Fully Shell Enabled – So shell extensions like TortoiseSVN work just fine.
  • Command Prompt Here – Opens a command prompt at the current folder.
  • Snap to Solution – Sets the root folder to the current solution’s folder.
  • Split View – Windows Explorer style.
  • Open Item – Either in Visual Studio or the registered application.
  • Options Dialog – For configuring the add-in.

And a screenshot:


It's good at twice the price! Download for free from the Mindscape site: Visual Studio File Explorer Addin


posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2008 1:00:50 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]

The presenters at last months Code Camp have made their slides available via their own blogs:

Thanks for presenting guys!


posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2008 12:08:53 AM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sara Ford has been publishing a great series of Visual Studio 2008 tips of the day, since July 2007.

I have given a couple of Visual Studio tips'n'tricks talks lately, and have recommended to the audience that they should go back to the beginning of the series and read her tips from the start.

If the thought of reading over a years worth of daily posts in a web browser scares you, I have assembled a Yahoo Pipe that grabs posts from 410 days ago and sends them out in an RSS feed, just like it was July 2007:


Each day you'll get the most recent posts from 410 days ago showing up in your feed reader.

Click the above link, and choose one of the options to add it to your feed reader, or you can even subscribe to email alerts each time there is new content (well, actually it's 410 day old content masquerading as new content).

Yahoo Pipes

Yahoo Pipes are pretty cool, they let you do transformations on a bunch of different types of data sources, and then re-expose them as a new feed.

In this case I have used an RSS feed from a Google blog search, as they allow you to search for posts on a given site and return all the results Google has cached. In Sara's case, Google will return 368 posts whereas her own feed only gives the most recent 15.

The pipe just builds up the right query string for Google, and then passes the url to the feed fetcher. The source is visible when you visit the pipe, although I have to admit that it's pretty simple and you could probably figure it out yourself :)

Blog series

It's interesting when you try to join part-way through a long running series on someone's blog.

The newest post at the top of their site (and your feed reader) is halfway through the series, so you have to scroll or read through the archives to get the earlier posts.

I often find when I stumble across "Part 7 of 11" blog posts that entering late puts me off subscribing to that blog, because of the weight of having to read so much to catch up so I can join the conversation.

Perhaps having a "Subscribe to this series from the beginning" link using a similar trickle fed time shifted approach would help people overcome that?


It did feel a little like having 10,000 spoons when all I needed was a knife to use a Yahoo beta product to pull data from a Google search to send people to a Microsoft employee's blog posts. Ain't the internet great!

Many thanks to Sara for the great series.


posted on Saturday, September 13, 2008 12:16:34 AM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Thursday, September 11, 2008

I got asked this last night in Christchurch: "How do you make it so regions are always expanded?"

There's a couple of different ways to do this:

  • You can turn off outlining altogether, in the Advanced Settings under C#:
  • You can learn the keyboard shortcuts for expanding and contracting outlines: Did you know how to collapse and expand code - Sara Fords blog
  • Or, you could reduce your use of regions (I've found they're often used to hide code, when really it should be refactored).


posted on Thursday, September 11, 2008 12:08:41 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
That was embarrassing. I went to demo the "Copy References" feature in Visual Studio 2008, and I couldn't remember how to do it.

That's because it's not in the standard install of Visual Studio, but is part of the PowerCommands for Visual Studio 2008 package.

Check out the feature list that I've copied below. Some really useful stuff, you should download now and install it!

Enable/Disable PowerCommands in Options dialog
This feature allows you to select which commands to enable in the Visual Studio IDE.  Point to the Tools menu, then click Options.  Expand the PowerCommands options, then click Commands.  Check the commands you would like to enable.
Note: All power commands are initially defaulted Enabled.

Format document on save / Remove and Sort Usings on save
The Format document on save option formats the tabs, spaces, and so on of the document being saved.   It is equivalent to pointing to the Edit menu, clicking Advanced, and then clicking Format Document. The Remove and sort usings option removes unused using statements and sorts the remaining using statements in the document being saved.
Note: The Remove and sort usings option is only available for C# documents.
Note:  Format document on save and Remove and sort usings both are initially defaulted OFF.

Clear All Panes
This command clears all output panes. It can be executed from the button on the toolbar of the Output window.

Copy Path
This command copies the full path of the currently selected item to the clipboard. It can be executed by right-clicking one of these nodes in the Solution Explorer:
The solution node; A project node; Any project item node; Any folder.

Email CodeSnippet
To email the lines of text you select in the code editor, right-click anywhere in the editor and then click Email CodeSnippet.
Insert Guid Attribute
This command adds a Guid attribute to a selected class.  From the code editor, right-click anywhere within the class definition, then click Insert Guid Attribute.

Show All Files
This command shows the hidden files in all projects displayed in the Solution Explorer when the solution node is selected.  It enhances the Show All Files button, which normally shows only the hidden files in the selected project  node.

Undo Close
This command reopens a closed document , returning the cursor to its last position.  To reopen the most recently closed document, point to the Edit menu, then click Undo Close.  Alternately, you can use the Ctrl+Shift+Z shortcut.
To reopen any other recently closed document, point to the View menu, click Other Windows, and then click Undo Close Window.  The Undo Close window appears, typically next to the Output window. Double-click any document in the list to reopen it.

Collapse Projects
This command collapses a hierarchy in the solution explorer starting from the root selected node. It can be executed from three different places: solution, solution folders and project nodes respectively.

Copy Class
This command copies a selected class entire content to the clipboard. It can be executed from a single project item or a project item with dependent sub items.

Paste Class
This command pastes a class entire content from the clipboard. It can be executed from a project or folder node.

Copy References
This command copies a reference or set of references to the clipboard. It can be executed from the references node, a single reference node or set of reference nodes.

Paste References
This command pastes a reference or set of references from the clipboard. It can be executed from different places depending on the type of project. For CSharp projects it can be executed from the references node. For Visual Basic and Website projects it can be executed from the project node.

Copy As Project Reference
This command copies a project as a project reference to the clipboard. It can be executed from a project node.

Edit Project File
This command opens the MSBuild project file for a selected project inside Visual Studio. It can be executed from a project node.

Open Containing Folder
This command opens a Windows Explorer window pointing to the physical path of a selected item. It can be executed from a project item node

Open Command Prompt
This command opens a Visual Studio command prompt pointing to the physical path of a selected item. It can be executed from four different places: solution, project, folder and project item nodes respectively.

Unload Projects
This command unloads all projects in a solution. It can be executed from the solution node.

Reload Projects
This command reloads all unloaded projects in a solution. It can be executed from the solution node.

Remove and Sort Usings
This command removes and sort using statements for all classes given a project. It can be executed from a solution node or a single project node.
Note: The Remove and Sort Usings feature is only available for C# projects since the C# editor implements this feature as a command in the C# editor (which this command calls for each .cs file in the project).

Extract Constant
This command creates a constant definition statement for a selected text. It can be executed from the code window over a selected text.

Clear Recent File List
This command clears the Visual Studio recent file list.

Clear Recent Project List
This command clears the Visual Studio recent project list.

Transform Templates
This command executes the associated custom tool with text templates items. It can be executed from a DSL project node or a folder node.

Close All
This command closes all documents. It can be executed from a document tab.


posted on Thursday, September 11, 2008 9:51:09 AM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Well, what a nice town centre.

I was down in Christchurch this afternoon presenting at the Christchurch .NET users group. It was great to finally see the group in action, since it has been running as long as our group in Wellington.

I presented a repeat of my Visual Studio Tips n Tricks talk to a crowd of about 40 keen Cantabrians. It was good to see that a couple of newcomers had come along for the night, hopefully they'll see you back again!

It was my first trip to Christchurch in 28 years.

I don't remember much about Christchurch from my first trip (I was two years old). I remember Dunedin well, as I had a traumatic experience after locking myself in a bathroom, but obviously nothing as memorable happened in Christchurch.

The town centre is very picturesque, and walking alongside the Avon River in the sun was lovely. Reminds me that I should get out of the office more often.

The highlight of my walk was seeing the trams in action. It's great to see rails through the centre of town.

In other news, I was happy to see that Paula Tesoriero won a gold medal in track cycling (and later, a bronze) at the Paralympics. Paula was at Kapiti College the same time as me -- it's great to see a fellow student succeeding on the international stage!


posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2008 11:39:36 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]

I talked about this briefly last week -- if you want to administer Hyper-V using PowerShell, what options do you have?


Hyper-V proffers some functionality through WMI classes in the “root\virtualization” namespace. You can access the raw WMI classes from PowerShell using examples like in my talk, or you can use the great library James O'Neill has uploaded to CodePlex: PowerShell Management Library for Hyper-V

Ben Pearce is doing a series on scripting Hyper-V with WMI which you should definitely check out.

System Centre Virtual Machine Manager 2008

SCVMM is a new product that will be releasing soon. It offers a unified management interface and set of services for managing a datacenter full of virtual machines. It is an additional product purchase, and so not everyone will have it.

I haven't used them, but apparently SCVMM's PowerShell cmdlets are a lot more natural to use than WMI. Further information about the PowerShell interface is available in this Scripting Guide.


Ultimately, you'll need to evaluate both approaches to see which one fits. WMI-based scripts will probably be usable in more situations, but SCVMM scripts will be easier to author and maintain.


posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2008 12:12:57 AM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Tuesday, September 09, 2008

As promised, here's the transcript of the PowerShell commands I used in my talk:

TechEdTranscript.txt (107.64 KB)

The bulkservers scripts that I used were from Ben Pearce's blog: Administering Servers in Bulk. I've uploaded my versions of the scripts here: BulkServerScripts.zip

Following is a synopsis of the commands I used in the talk.

Get a list of all classes in the CIMV2 namespace:

> get-wmiobject -namespace "root\cimv2" -list

Get a list of all disks on a remote machine:

> gwmi -class win32_logicaldisk -computer columbus

Update the Volume Name of a disk. Note that often when making changes to WMI properties, you need to Put() the object to set your changes back on the original machine:

> $disks[0].VolumeName = "Kirks disk"
> $disks[0].Put()

List hotfixes applied to a machine:

> gwmi win32_quickfixengineering | format-table hotfixid

Get a representation of the running OS. You can shutdown, reboot etc:

> $os = gwmi win32_operatingsystem

Get all the network adapters on a machine:

> $nics = gwmi win32_networkadapterconfiguration

You can update the IP addresses, netmasks etc:

> $mynic.enablestatic($newip, $newmask)

Get a list of the Hyper-V virtual machines:

$vms = Gwmi –namespace “root\virtualization” –class msvm_computersystem

Set one of the virtual machines to the running state:

> $VM.RequestStateChange(2)

I hope that these examples show you the variety and power of things you can manipulate using PowerShell over WMI. You can access almost every physical or logical device that is connected to your computer (or another computer on your network), as well as administer many different software products.



posted on Tuesday, September 09, 2008 11:52:50 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]

I had fun preparing and presenting the Visual Studio Tips n Tricks talk at TechEd last week... although I think about half the jokes fell flat!

Here's the slides -- you'll see there's not much of value in them:

DEV313-Jackson-VisualStudioTips-Clean.pptx (1.4 MB)

...and that's because most of the talk was the demo. I walked through a lot of Visual Studio keyboard combinations that I find useful, as well as walking through some of the features that can make you more productive, such as the snippet manager, settings management and macros.

Here's a table of all the keyboard shortcuts I used:

C# Key Combo VB Key Combo
View.ShowSmartTag CTRL + . CTRL + .
Edit.Find CTRL + F CTRL + F Quick find
Edit.IncrementalSearch CTRL + I CTRL + I Incremental find
Edit.FindInFiles CTRL + SHIFT + F CTRL + SHIFT + F Find in files
Edit.Replace CTRL + H CTRL + H Quick replace
Edit.ReplaceInFiles CTRL + SHIFT + H CTRL + SHIFT + H Replace in files
Edit.GotoNextLocation F8 - Go to next location (in search results)
Edit.GotoPrevLocation SHIFT + F8 - Go to previous location (in search results)
Edit.FindNext F3 F3 Repeat search
Edit.FindPrevious SHIFT + F3 SHIFT + F3 Search previous
Edit.FindNextSelected CTRL + F3 CTRL + F3 Search for next with selected text
Edit.FindPreviousSelected CTRL + SHIFT + F3 CTRL + SHIFT + F3 Search for previous with selected text
View.NavigateBackward CTRL + - CTRL + - Go back to previous location (Browser-style)
View.NavigateForward CTRL + SHIFT + - CTRL + SHIFT + - Go forwards to next location
View.ViewCode F7 F7 View code
View.ViewDesigner SHIFT + F7 SHIFT + F7 View designer when in markup
View.ViewMarkup SHIFT + F7 SHIFT + F7 View markup when in designer
Edit.CycleClipboardRing CTRL + SHIFT + V CTRL + SHIFT + V Cycle through Visual Studio clipboard
Edit.GotoBrace CTRL + ] - Jump to opposing brace / XML tag
Edit.GotoBraceExtend CTRL + SHIFT + ] - Select text to the opposing brace / tag
Edit.GotoFindCombo CTRL + / - Jump to the find combo in the toolbar
Window.ShowEzMDIFileList CTRL + ALT + DOWN ARROW CTRL + ALT + DOWN ARROW Show popup of all open files
Debug.Start F5 F5 Start with debugger
Debug.StartWithoutDebugging CTRL + F5 CTRL + F5 Start without debugger
Debug.Restart CTRL + SHIFT + F5 SHIFT + F5 Restart the program
Debug.StopDebugging SHIFT + F5 CTRL + ALT + BREAK Stop debugger
Debug.RunToCursor CTRL + F10 CTRL + F10 Run to the cursor
Debug.ToggleBreakpoint F9 F9 Set / remove breakpoint
Debug.DeleteAllBreakpoints CTRL + SHIFT + F9 CTRL + SHIFT + F9 Delete all breakpoints
Debug.EnableBreakpoint CTRL + F9 - Enable a breakpoint
Debug.StepInto F11 F11 Step into a method
Debug.StepOut SHIFT + F11 SHIFT + F11 Step out of a method
Debug.StepOver F10 F10 Step over a line
Tools.RecordTemporaryMacro CTRL + SHIFT + R - Start recording a macro
Tools.PlayTemporaryMacro CTRL + SHIFT + P - Playback a macro

If you want an even more comprehensive list of keyboard combinations, you can check out the following links, or go exploring in Tools > Options > Keyboard:

C# Keybindings

VB Keybindings

C++ Keybindings



posted on Tuesday, September 09, 2008 11:02:41 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [5]
 Sunday, September 07, 2008

It just struck me while playing around with Chrome that I have been using Gmail for more than 4 years.

At the time, I thought "I'll never use up 1 gig of mail storage", but luckily, Google has been steadily adding to my quota - faster than the rate I'm using it up.

I primarily use my Gmail account for mailing list subscriptions, as it is really fast for scanning and reading mailing list posts, and still has the nicest interface for reading conversation threads that I have seen. As most of my mailing list subscriptions are "read only" (I lurk, without posting), Gmail is my own private little search engine over the mailing lists I subscribe to.

Fears of instability, data lock-in or data loss have so far been unfounded. There have been occasional issues accessing Gmail, but none that have caused me undue distress.

All in all, I'd say a pretty good 4 years.

posted on Sunday, September 07, 2008 4:44:24 PM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [0]
 Thursday, September 04, 2008

Hello TechEd campers....

I hope I didn't freak you out too much with my awesome dance moves -- hopefully I woke you up!

I've cleaned up my slide deck marginally, and I will upload it to Commnet shortly.

I'll be posting up the slides, sample scripts and the transcript of my demo over the next few days, so subscribe to my RSS feed, or check back soon.

Always welcome to hear feedback (good or bad), or receive dance tuition. Contact me at kirk@pageofwords.com.



SVR316 - Windows PowerShell and Windows Management Instrumentation: Unveiling Microsoft's best kept secret

posted on Thursday, September 04, 2008 6:17:35 AM (New Zealand Standard Time, UTC+12:00)  #    Comments [5]