Since the beginning of this year, I have had the privilege to tour across the west coast speaking at WebCamps featuring content and demos using Visual Studio 2013. A common theme across all of these camps was the positive reaction to some particular demos targeting the productive features enhancing web development. Specifically, these demos were showcasing the goodness found in the Web Essentials extension for Visual Studio. Although I have been a fan for years, it was surprising to me how many long-time ASP.NET developers were not using it or even aware of it. Thus I am inspired to spread the word about this free add-in which is available for multiple versions of Visual Studio. It was truly an essential part of the WebCamp experience, thus why I named this post “WebCamp Essentials”.
In the spirit of the WebCamps, I would like to reveal the features that seemed to render the highest level of praise or interest – and in no particular order. Although all the features are listed categorically on the Web Essentials home page, I wanted to iterate the camp favorites by listing them under problems they address.
“What file is this static content in?”
When testing your site in a browser, you may want to know where (source file) a visual element is coming from. Since sites can be complex with nested content, it may not be easily discernable what file a static element resides in. With the browser link feature, you can toggle a mode in the browser that will enable visual selection of an element which will reveal in Visual Studio the source file in which it resides. Not only can you find content, you can change it right in the browser and see how it updates your file in Visual Studio automagically! This is made possible by script injected into the page when launching from Visual Studio – and it works across all the modern browsers.
“I prefer less typing!”
With minimal typing, you can create HTML content quickly with Zen Coding. A simple example:
<!-- type this and then tab -->
<!-- becomes -->
<div id="demo" class="groovy">Amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.</div>
“Collapsible regions please!”
/*#region name */
As mentioned, these are just a few of the many features provided with Web Essentials. If you are a web developer using Visual Studio – it is simply essential for you to employ it!