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VS extension checklist

Visual Studio Extensibility Checklist

Here is a list of things to make sure to remember before publishing your Visual Studio extension.

Adhere to threading rules

Add the Microsoft.VisualStudio.SDK.Analyzers NuGet package to your VSIX project, which will help you discover and fix common violations of best practices regarding threading.

Add high-quality icon

All extensions should have an icon associated with it. Make sure the icon is a high-quality .png file with the size 90x90 pixels in 96 DPI or more. After adding the icon to your VSIX project, register it in the .vsixmanifest file as both the Icon and Preview image.

Name and description

Studies show that extensions with a short and descriptive name and an accurate description are more likely to be installed by users. Make sure the name reflects the essense of what the extension does. The short description in the .vsixmanifest file should set expectations as to what the extension does. So a brief mention of what problems it solves and what main features it has are key.

Write good Marketplace description

This is one of the most important things you should do to make your extension successful. A good description consist of:

  • Screenshots/animated GIFs of the UI added by the extension
  • Detailed description of the individual features
  • Links to more details if applicable

Add license

This license will be shown on the Marketplace, in the VSIX installer and in the Extensions and Updates... dialog. One should always be specified to set the expectations for the users. Use to help find the right license for you. The reason it is important is to remove any questions and ambiguity which is important for many Visual Studio users.

Add privacy notice

If the extension collects data such as telemetry or in any other way communicates with a remote endpoint, add a note about it in the description.

Use KnownMonikers when possible

Visual Studio ships with thousands of icons which are available in the KnownMonikers collection. When adding icons to command buttons, see if you can use the existing KnownMonikers icons since they are part of a design language familiar to the Visual Studio users. Here's a full list of KnownMonikers and grab the KnownMonikers Explorer extension to find the right one for your scenarios.

Make it feel native to VS

Follow the same design patterns and principles that Visual Studio itself uses. This makes the extension feel natural to the users. It also reduces distractions caused by poorly designed UI. Make sure that all buttons, menus, toolbars and tool windows are only visible by default when the user is in the right context to use them. There are some rules of thumb to follow:

  • Don't ever add a new top level menu (next to File, Edit, etc.)
  • No buttons, menus and toolbars should be visible in contexts they don't apply to
  • If auto load is necessary (it probably isn't), do it as late as possible.
  • Use VisibilityConstraints to toggle visibility of commands instead of relying on auto load

Use proper version ranges

It can be tempting to support versions of Visual Studio all the way back to Visual Studio 2010 to ensure that everyone can use your new extension. The problem with that is that by doing so, it is no longer possible to use any APIs introduced later than that minimum version the extension supports. Often, those new APIs are important and help improve performance and reliability of both your extension as well as Visual Studio itself.

Here are our recommendations for deciding what versions of Visual Studio to support:

  • Support only the previous and current version of Visual Studio - don't support older versions if possible
  • Don't specify an open ended version range. E.g. [16.0,). Learn more about version ranges.

This is a template for a GitHub issue you can copy paste directly into a new issue on your own repo.

Follow the [Visual Studio Extensibility Checklist]( to ensure it meets the minimum requirements for a high-quality extension.

* [ ] Adhere to threading rules
* [ ] Use high-quality icon
* [ ] Add descriptive name and description
* [ ] Write good Marketplace description
* [ ] Add license
* [ ] Add privacy notice if applicable
* [ ] Use KnownMonikers when possible
* [ ] Make it feel native to VS
* [ ] Use proper version ranges
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"Show in Help/About" - is there something equivalent for MEF editor extensions - where there is no Package?

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There is not. Just add a package class to the MEF project

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justcla commented Jun 12, 2018

Add a ReleaseNotes.txt or, better yet, link to a ReleaseNotes / Readme on GitHub.

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Something that would be helpful would be to know that if you use Newtonsoft.Json, that all versions are suppressed. Version 9.0.1 is included in VS2017, but if I reference a newer version it is suppressed when the VSIX is built. The error "file cannot be found" when I run the extension is technically accurate, but there isn't any warning or information that the assembly will be suppressed when building my extension.

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