Review: Visual Studio Hacks
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Published: 18 Apr 2005
Unedited - Community Contributed
If you want to master the core aspects of Visual Studio .NET, Visual Studio Hacks should be on your bookshelf.
by Anand Narayanaswamy
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There are many books available for learning C#, Visual Basic .NET, and Visual C++ .NET. Yet there are comparatively few books pertaining to Visual Studio .NET. For developers keen to learn tips and tricks for their favorite IDE, O'Reilly has released a new book, Visual Studio Hacks.

Visual Studio Hacks presents 100 hacks divided into 13 chapters. The first chapter examines the fundamental concepts of Projects and SourceSafe. The second chapter covers concepts related to the Visual Studio code editor, including Intellisense and refractoring. The next three chapters cover navigating and customizing Visual Studio. The fifth chapter thoroughly examines debugging code, SQL Server and running processes. This chapter closes by showing how to write a custom visualizer.

Chapter 6 examines some useful hacks such as using the command prompt, building a custom tool, and code generation. For example, hack 53 explains the creation of a connection string in a step-by-step manner. This chapter also helps you to learn some of the advanced concepts such as updating project references.

Chapter 7 deals with help and research. Chapter 8 covers comments and documentation. You will learn, among other things, how to create XML-based comments with Visual Basic .NET, and how to generate documentation from XML-based comments. This chapter also demonstrates how to integrate your own documentation into Visual Studio .NET.

Chapters 9 and 10 examine the Server Explorer and Visual Studio tools. For example, hack 80 shows how to obfuscate your .NET code, and hack 82 shows how to generate UML documents from code.

Chapter 11 examines a popular topic among developers: Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO). The chapter covers installation issues, creation of a command bar in Word 2003, and displaying a WinForm application from Excel 2003.

The final two chapters will help you to learn advanced concepts associated with Visual Studio. For example, with the help of hack 89, you will learn how to write a Visual Studio Add-in. Hacks 92 through 100 include how to use Visual Studio to run unit tests, spell check your code and comments, and test regular expressions.

Each hack in this book is explained in easy-to-understand language, with the help of screenshots. The author provides complete source code with most hacks. This will surely help readers to learn the concepts quickly. Tips are given wherever required along with each hack.

From my point of view, the book should have included more hacks covering ADO.NET and Reflection. The author should also devote a hack to remote server access using Visual Studio. I hope the author will consider these issues when editing the book for its next edition. Even though the book has been written by a single author, many developers contributed hacks. The author maintains a website for this book, which can be reached at 

Overall, this book is an excellent reference book for all levels of developer.

About the Book

Visual Studio Hacks
By James Avery
O'Reilly Media Inc
478 Pages
US $24.95

Reviewed by Anand Narayanaswamy, Microsoft MVP,

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