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5 Great Visual Studio Extensions to Boost Your Productivity in 2020

The last thing any developer wants is to spend time on repetition and boilerplate.

Huh? Boilerplate?

You know, the same sections of standard code that are mostly copied and pasted all over your project. For example, setters and getters for properties, parameterized constructors, and setting up dependency injection. There’s more, but you get the point.

We all want to spend less time on the typing part of the job and more on the thinking and problem solving part. And while organizations like Microsoft, JetBrains, and Eclipse do a good job at providing basic functionality, the real winners are exposed in the community extensions.

Most text editors and development environments support plugins, extensions, and even highly customized user interfaces. Visual Studio stands out as a great and extensible IDE with a huge community of extension developers.

Let’s dive in to this modest list of some of our favorite productivity-boosting Visual Studio extensions.

Heads Up!
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ReSharper

This is it. The Rolls-Royce of extensions. ReSharper is like having always-on static analysis that updates as you write more code. No need to wait for your continuous integration build processes to finish. You’re doing it live!

It’s famous not only because it’s great at what it does, but also because many of Visual Studio’s best analysis features were lifted directly from this extension.

If you find yourself having trouble refactoring your redundant lines, code smells, typos, and strangely created method signatures, this extension will highlight those issues, suggest solutions, and automate the implementation of whatever solution you ultimately choose.

When you’re working in large projects, sometimes navigation through the project structure and sheer volume of files is painful. ReSharper has the ability to jump to any file, type, or member in your project based on a fuzzy match of what you think the object’s name is. Trust us, this is a game changer when you’re trying to find a method you wrote last week but can’t quite remember where it is.

Did You Know?
ReSharper was created and is maintained by JetBrains. Take a look at other great JetBrains tools on our huge list of the best programming tools that you need today.

CodeMaid

Nobody likes messy and unorganized code. You know the kind. Someone who left behind lines littered with wrong indentations, trailing spaces, and too much white space.

That’s where CodeMaid comes in to save the day.

With options to clean your code files individually or across entire projects, there’s no excuse to have dirty files. You can even set up the extension to trigger the cleaning action when you save a file.

Within individual files, there are some context based options as well.

Join two lines together? No problem. Sort a section of code alphabetically? Done deal. Format comments to auto-wrap at a line break? Yep, it’s got that.

But wait, there’s more! Beyond cleaning your files, you can navigate through project files in a tree view and sort files for better findings and viewing. There are many more features in this extension that will absolutely make you more productive.

Indent Guides

Sometimes you just can’t beat simple. And that’s exactly what the Indent Guides extension is.

Have you ever worked on a file with a lot of indentation and realize it’s impossible to see where the braces for methods and conditions line up?

What if you had a simple guide which visualized the alignment of those braces? All of life’s problems would be solved.

Well guess what? This extension has got you covered.

You can apply a solid, dotted, dashed, thick, or thin vertical line along each indentation mark in your code file. This prevents brain strain when trying to find where your methods, conditions, and other indentations begin and end.

Honestly, it’s baffling why this extension isn’t natively baked into Visual Studio by now.

Image Optimizer

Not all extensions are focused on improving your experience with text and code. That’s good because projects are often made up of sounds, images, libraries, and other pre-compiled assets.

Image Optimizer is a simple right-click menu built into the Solution Explorer which allows you to optimize images for best quality or best compression.

The best quality option is a bit misleading but makes sense when you figure out what it’s actually doing. When you choose this option for an image in your project, the extension will use lossless optimization to improve the file size without improving the quality of the image.

The best compression option claims to save up to 90% in file size without a large hit in quality.

Supported file types and their associated compression algorithms are below:

SQLite/SQL Server Compact Toolbox

Have you ever needed to connect to a database with a tool to explore objects (tables, keys, columns, etc) and regretted it because the tool is not very intuitive?

Have you struggled managing your local SQLite or SQL Server CE (Compact Edition) instances for your application?

Here comes SQLite/SQL Server Compact Toolbox to the rescue. This extension is directly embedded into the menus of Visual Studio providing a seamless experience to anyone who is already familiar with the Visual Studio interfaces.

The extension supports exploring database objects visually, scripting schema diff files for comparisons, migrating to and from other databases (SQL Server, SQL Azure, SQLite), query creation, query result exploration, execution plans, documentation, and a lot more.

Further Reading
Be sure to check out our huge guide to becoming a software developer and see how Visual Studio can help you succeed.
Justin Skiles

Justin Skiles

Justin has been developing enterprise application software for over 10 years primarily using Microsoft stacks, Azure, and various open source tools. He has most recently been trying his best as a Manager and Director of Software Engineering in the health care industry.

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