Any executable file can be added to the External Tools menu. This tutorial looks that the steps necessary to add legacy application to Visual Studio via the External Tools menu.
- [Voiceover] I have this utility application named Environmental Variables Inspector. It shows the environmental variables from my Windows command prompt. It's a custom utility that is used by our dev team. Here's what it looks like when you run the application. As you can see, it's a simple app that lists each environmental variable name and the corresponding value assigned to the variable. So I can see that my app data folder is at this location and that the ChocolatelyInstall is located here, and so on.
Now I'll add this application to Visual Studio in the External Tools menu, and I'll do that by copying this path. So I'll hold down the shift key and then right click, and choose Copy as path, then switch to Visual Studio. In Visual Studio, you add an item to the External Tools menu by going to Tools, then Choosing this menu item here External Tools, and then choosing the Add button. I'll give my tool a new title and here I'll paste in the path to the executable, then I will choose OK.
Now, when I'm ready to show that application, I can go to the tools menu, find my item here, click on the menu item, and it launches the application. To make the menu item more accessible, especially for developers who won't or can't use a mouse, I should add an accelerator key to my menu. So I will select my item again and the way you add a accelerator key is by putting an ampersand in front of the letter that is the activator.
Now when a developer wants to use the accelerator keys, they press the alt key while in Visual Studio, and if you look at the menu at the top of the screen, you can see that some of the letters are underline. If you look at the tools menu, you can see that T is underlined. That means, I can press the T key to activate that menu. Now here in the External Tools menu, if I press the G, that would run this external tools. If I press the K, it would run the Error Look up, and if I press the V, it will run my tools. So I will try that. I'll press V.
And there's the application. The advantage of using External Tools for this example is minor, but it is still useful. It gets more powerful when you can pass parameters to the external tool. That's my next demo!
- Installing extensions
- Using CodeMaid, Productivity Power Tools, and other Visual Studio extensions
- Adding external tools
- Creating custom item and project templates
- Building your own custom extensions
- Creating VSIX installers
- Sharing custom extensions
Skill Level Beginner
Q: This course was updated on 08/22/2017. What changed?
A: New videos were added that cover installing and exploring extensions, creating custom project and item templates, and creating custom extensions.