Tag Archives: Visual Studio

Visual Studio 2013 and 2015 icons

Thanks to VS2015 that happen to have the same icon as VS2013 it can be confusing if you have both installed (side-by-side). So as a simple solution I created my own customized icons based on the standard VS icon that also display the version (shortened). I’m simply sharing it here for other if they like to re-use it.


Simply extract somewhere on your local HDD and then customize (create shortcut/pin to taskbar and then properties, Change Icon, browse and select the icon) and whoala!.

Sharing is caring… so they say.

How to get the full update for VS2013

This tip applies to all editions and even previous versions (2012, 2012) of Visual Studio.

Since Microsoft has been releasing these updates e.g. VS2013.1 etc) the default behavior for these installers are to just download what is need at the time they are run. This is all good and well if you have only one machine that needs updating. What happens if you have to update a whole bunch of installs?

Luckily the VS2013.x installers support an undocumented (or not well) command line parameter ‘/layout’ that allows you to have the full update downloaded to a local folder. From there you can run the same installer without the parameter and it won’t download any additional stuff again.

Full command: VS2013.1.exe /layout

Happy downloading… only once.

VS 2013 Express tips

Just thought to share a tip or two about making the user experience better. The following applies to the desktop version but should also work (with some minor adjustment) to the other editions as well.

Change the all UPPERCASE main menus

In the registry, find the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\WDExpress\12.0\General. Add a (32-bit) DWORD value named SuppressUppercaseConversion and give it a value of 1. Next time you open the IDE the menu’s will be normal Title case again. It also applies to VS2012 editions as well (just change the version number to 11.0). For web express just change the ‘WDExpress’ part.

Update: If you are using the Web express edition the registry path for the change upper case menus are: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\VWDExpress\12.0\General

Adding more themes

By default there are only 3 themes (for the express versions). To add some more options go to http://alinconstantin.blogspot.com/2012/09/using-color-themes-with-visual-studio.html?_sm_au_=isV7sFqHt8JbtbNM

Adding my Source backup tool

My source backup tool id aware of the desktop express version and can automatically add itself as one of the custom tools of the IDE. See SourceBackup.

If I come across more tips I’ll add them here as well.


VS2012 Express for Desktop

I’ve been waiting for this for a while so I was glad when they finally released this. Now for some initial feedback.

First off, the download was reasonable – size and speed wise. The installation was, lets just say ok – as I had to reboot since it had to update some libraries that were is ‘use’ at the time. Registration was also not too bad – since I have an old existing Hotmail/Live account where more of the details were already populated. Running it for the first time is where the shock comes in… it is as ugly as hell (reminds me death, all grey and boring). Unfortunately the same would apply to any of the other Express and even full versions of VS2012.

VS2012 Express For Desktop development

Functionality wise it provides just the very basics – not that you can expect anything more. Since I haven’t installed the ‘full’ express version I cannot comment on any other functionality that version might have. Anyway, The only templates worth mentioning is the Windows Forms, WPF and Console ones. Again, one cannot expect anything more of this release. Interestingly enough, when creating a new project the framework version cannot be changed on the ‘create project’ dialog screen. You can only change this ‘after’ the project has already been created.

One nice thing is that you can still create custom toolbars with ‘external’ commands – I use it to run a source backup tool I created some time ago. Another thing to remember is that this tool can be installed in Windows 7, unlike the full Express version that can ONLY be installed on Windows 8. The Web express version can also be installed on 7 (plus the TFS Express version).

If you excuse the way it looks (wearing shades to protect your eyes) then this tool is not that bad… Just wish they allowed old fashioned ‘themes’ to change the look and feel of the entire editor. Ah well, it is an ‘Express’ product… Fortunately you can import your VS 2010 color and font settings to get all your customizations back (even though it does moan about a whole bunch of settings that are not applicable to this edition which you can ignore)

In order to try it out you can follow this link.

If you like to change the overall theme and don’t like the built-in Light or Dark there are some more options if you look at this blog entry.

How to run application after VS MSI installer finish

Sometimes you need to do something that is not provided ‘out-of-the-box’ – as provided by the default tools you use. Take Visual Studio’s built in ‘Set-up’ and installation projects as an example.

I wanted to simply add the option to launch the executable that was installed during the install process once the installer ends. Sounds simple and there are ways of doing this with and without Visual Studio using custom installer classes plus ‘Custom Actions’ is possible but it has its drawbacks – like it suspend the installer or you have to write extra code inside your app just to cater for that.

Interestingly enough, MSI installers actually supports this functionality ‘natively’ i.e. it is a built-in feature of MSI technology to have the option for ‘Run my app after the installer ends’. The problem is just that Visual Studio doesn’t expose this functionality itself. The only way to ‘enable’ this feature is to modify the MSI package afterwards – through a ‘Post build action’ or manually (or you can use msbuild or any other build process tool).

To do this you can use a JavaScript script that simply makes the required changes to the MSI package (its internal database). See Aaron Stebner’s blog for more details. The example script to do this is located here.

I initially had trouble getting the working paths correct for my specific project but it turned out the normal ‘build’ command in VS does not always rebuild the solution. Instead you have to explicitly use the ‘Rebuild’ command on the Set-up project to make sure it recreate the MSI using the post build action script.

To summarize how to do it:

  1. First download a copy of the ‘EnableLaunchApplication.js’ script to the set-up projects directory – the directory where the .vdproj file is located.
  2. Then edit the js file to specify the actual exe name of your application you want to ‘launch’ after the MSI finish. You can of course customize it further.
  3. In the Visual Studio set up project’s project properties specify the following ‘PostBuildEvent’: cscript.exe “$(ProjectDir)EnableLaunchApplication.js” “$(BuiltOuputPath)”
  4. Take not that the spelling mistake (BuiltOuputPath) is deliberate since that is how the VS team implemented it (was probably a typo which they never fixed)
  5. Now you can use the ‘Rebuild’ command for the (set-up) project.

and thats how it works. Have fun!

Rumours of desktop development death greatly exaggerated

Ok, Microsoft has restored some faith from my side in them – after announcing that the new Visual Studio 11 (now called VS 2012) would NOT support any desktop development anymore.

They eventually changed their minds due to a lot of pressure and decided to release a desktop specific version as well – see this.

A quote from the article:

With this new Express edition, developers will be able to use C++, C#, or Visual Basic to create Windows desktop and console applications. Developers will also get access to new advances available across the Express family in Visual Studio 2012, such as the latest compilers and programming language tools, integrated unit testing, and the ability for small development teams to collaborate via Team Explorer and TFS Express.

Now, we just need to get MS to drop Metro and BioWare to fix Mass Effect 3’s ending… and the world could be a happy place again… hehe

Death to desktop development

Well, perhaps that is what Microsoft is trying to achieve with its latest move to remove all desktop development functionality from its Express versions of Visual Studio. Yes, you can still create desktop apps in the ‘pro’ version but at something like $500 it isn’t cheap for hobbyist op someone that is still learning.  Lately they have been making all kind of wild and ridiculous decisions trying to push their new ‘Retro’, eh I mean ‘Metro’ interface down our throats. I for one don’t like this new interface ‘on the desktop’ at all and I’m definitely not the only one!

Just looking at the comments in articles like these you can get the impression that more and more people (developers) are really not liking this new direction that ‘they’ are taking. It is one thing to create something new and exciting but another to actively alienate/irritate your existing followers just to try and push them into a new direction (which might or might not suit them). Is this rush to try and play ‘catch-up’ with ‘the fruit company’ so important that they actually are shooting themselves in the foot? Yes, that is right, they are actively playing the catch-up game but is loosing it with every move they are trying. Not a good move if you want to survive in the end. As big as they are (once) ‘they’ are now in the ‘failing’ game – as Adam Savage would say – Failure is always an option. Microsoft is now ‘living’ that lotto!

Was good knowing ya: RIP Microsoft 1975-2012

VS11 Beta – Initial impressions

Ok, I’ve just installed the VS11 Beta. I know this might sound ‘weird’ to some (like the new, leading and bleeding edge guys) but I’m glad the ‘old’ stuff are still in there – aka Windows and Console type of applications. There are the obviously new project types that allow you to create all the new Metro interface apps but also a few other changes. For one, the built in Visual Studio Installer seems to be no more – the only option is the ‘Enable Installshield Limited Edition’.

Interestingly under ‘Other languages’ (since I choose C# as primary language) JavaScript now has its whole own section. These are all Metro project types. There are of course also VB.Net, C++, SQL Server and F#. Then LightSwitch also has its own options.

But since I mostly (ok only these days) use C# lets look at that. If you look at the screenshot the first thing you notice is the lack of colours. Yes, everything is now ‘Metro’ (or Retro like I call it). 

For my purposes there are the Windows Forms, Windows Services, Console and Class library projects. Also the standard ASP.Net types are still there. Most of the new ones are Metro related. Then as far as .Net frameworks are concerned you can choose anything from 2.0 to 4.5 (like 3.0, 3.5, 4.0). Interestingly, 4.5 does not have a ‘Client Profile’ option like 4.0 and 3.5. I have to wonder if they somehow made the complete 4.5 smaller so it could be compared to 4.0 client profile again??

Looks like there are a whole lot more performance analysis features included but I’ll have to ‘play around’ with it to see how it works before I make any judgement (on whether I like it or not).

As a first test I created a plain old Windows Forms project:

As you can see other than the boring colour scheme nothing else changed much. At least that is a good thing. The toolbox seems to have all the old controls in it. I might be mistaken but it looks like the team explorer stuff might be built in (this is the Pro Beta).

Well, those are my initial impressions and I’m not disappointed (yet). Best is you can try it out yourself!

Windows 8 Consumer preview ISO and VS11 Beta downloads

In case you were looking for these:



The VS11 downloads also include the new TFS Express Beta…

Useful Visual Studio 2010 Keyboard Shortcuts

This might be a bit old news for some but for those that forgot or never knew – here is a quick reference link on keyboard shortcuts inside Visual Studio.