During a recent and very insightful talk from Black Marble the speakers highlighted the importance of being familiar with your IDE.

This resulted in a bonus point for me and another blog post for you. This time though, I’m going to talk about a feature of an extension to Visual Studio called Power Productivity Tools. It’s free and supported by Microsoft. Power Productivity Tools is a customisable set of tools that is meant to make you more productive. It features all sorts of things but I’m going to talk about just one aspect of Power Productivity Tools, and that is the enhanced scrollbar.

The Enhanced Scrollbar - it's really useful

The enhanced scrollbar gives you an extra thick scrollbar with a visualisation of the entire code file embedded in it. It should you how your code is laid out, anything that is that same as the text that is currently select, open and closed regions, comments, errors (The are no errors in my code, at least not in the screen shot 😉 ). I can even hover over code on the toolbar and have it pop up in a box next to the toolbar, right there in your window. It’s really useful for navigating code, finding out where a particular method is used, or just looking over your code to spot areas you might want to refactor.

It’s also just one part of the Power Productivity Tools extension. It’s probably the most obvious part, but there are a host of other features you can use, like a web link style Ctrl+Click function to jump the the definition of a method or variable, a more useful Solution Navigator and a whole host of options to change the way your tabs behave.

I thoroughly recommend checking it out.

There’s also another reason why it’s good to use extensions like this. Before Productivity Power Tools there were a host of similar add ins that people found useful. Now Microsoft has adopted these add ins as an extension, but chances are the most popular and most useful add ins may make it into future versions of visual studio as standard, so in some ways you’re future proofing yourself by learning this stuff now.

Of course there’s always the risk that your favourite tool won’t be adopted, leaving you bitter and twisted, and moaning about the good old days!