Useful Visual Studio External Tools

Introduction

I have been meaning to document this for a while. Every time I set up a new machine I have to check the configuration of my Visual Studio external tools.

External Tools? If you don’t know what I am talking about then take a look at the image below.

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Currently I have the following External Tools:-

  • Create GUID – this allows me to quickly get a new GUID when creating all those SharePoint resources, including Content Types, List Schemas, Feature Receivers etc.
  • Get Public Key Token – this uses the .Net Framework Signing Tool (sn.exe) to get the Public Key token, although with the new SharePoint tools in Visual Studio this isn’t needed so much there are always those odd occasions.
  • Get Full Assembly Name – This is used lots particularly when having to hack together various SharePoint Xml files or Entity Framework resource connection strings. I can’t take credit for this one, Sahil Malek – http://blah.winsmarts.com/2009-12-SharePoint_Productivity_Tip_of_the_day.aspx), did all the hard work.
  • Get IIS Web Application Information – This saves me so much time when debugging code especially, feature receivers, application page, web part code. The tool will display a list of all the Web Applications and there Process ID (PID).

Setting up the Tools

Create GUID Tool

First of all locate the Guidgen Tool which should be found in your Windows SDK folder. The path will depend on the Windows Version you are running, this one is for Windows 2008 R2. “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v7.0A\”

  • The GUID Generator application can be found in the bin subfolder
  • Full Path: “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v7.0A\Bin\guidgen.exe”
  • Now you have the path, fire up Visual Studio

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  • Click Tools->External Tools
  • Click Add
  • Title: Generate GUID
  • Command: : “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v7.0A\Bin\guidgen.exe”
  • Click Apply

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When this tool is used then the following window will popup:-

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Get Public Key Token Tool

This retrieves the public key token for the assembly that is associated to the file that is open in Visual Studio.

To setup the tool do the following:-

  • Get the Path to the SN.exe tool which is found in the .Microsoft SDK Path
  • “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v7.0A\Bin\sn.exe”
  • From Visual Studio
  • Click Tools->External Tools
  • Click Add
  • Title: Get Public Key Token
  • Command: : “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v7.0A\Bin\sn.exe”
  • Attributes: -Tp $(TargetPath)
  • Check “Use Output Window”
  • Click Apply

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When the External Tool is used then the following output will appear in Visual Studio’s Output Window

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Get Full Assembly Name Tool

This tool is excellent and saves me lots of time when you need the full Assembly Name for all the numerous SharePoint development tasks.

The setup of the tool comes from Sahil Malek (http://blah.winsmarts.com/2009-12-SharePoint_Productivity_Tip_of_the_day.aspx).

  • Fire up Visual Studio
  • Click Tools->External Tools
  • Click Add
  • Title: Get Full Assembly Path
  • Command: PowerShell
  • Arguments: -command “[System.Reflection.AssemblyName]::GetAssemblyName(\”$(TargetPath)\”).FullName”
  • Check “Use Output Window”
  • Click Apply

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The output for this tool is as follows:-

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Get IIS Web Application Info

This tool is great for getting information on the Web Server Application Pools. This is great if you need to debug a particular Web Application Pool Process.

  • Fire up Visual Studio
  • Click Tools->External Tools
  • Click Add
  • Title: Get IIS WP Info
  • Command: “c:\windows\system32\inetsrv\appcmd.exe”
  • Arguments: list WP
  • Check “Use Output Window”
  • Click Apply

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The Output for this tool is as follows:-

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Conclusion

I hope you find some of those tools useful, I would love to hear about any that you use.

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