Join Walt Ritscher for an in-depth discussion in this video Using the Start screen, part of Visual Studio 2015 Essential Training: 02 Getting Comfortable with the IDE.
- In this video, I'll explore the initial screen shown when Visual Studio starts. It's called the Start Page and it lives on this tab. This is an interactive page, organized into sections that provide assistance for starting new projects, opening previous projects, or learning more about Visual Studio. Let's examine some of those sections. In the upper left is the Start section. It contains some links for creating a New Project, opening an existing project, or opening a project from Source Control.
Let's examine this first link. I'll click on the New Project link which launches this New Project dialog. Now let's be clear, I can get to this New Project dialog multiple ways. I can also go to the File Menu and choose New Project. This is the same dialog. The benefit of using the Start Page, is that it's a few less clicks of my mouse to get to that dialog. In the Recent section of the Start Page are some of the solutions I've opened in the past.
I can click on this hyperlink to quickly open this previous solution. Now the solution is open in the Solution Explorer, and notice that the Start Page has disappeared. That's because I'm now working on my project. I'll close this solution. Notice that the Start Page doesn't show up again, I can bring that back by going to View, Start Page. In the center of the screen, are information about Visual Studio, about .NET, information from MSDN, here I can find links that say "Discover what's new in Enterprise 2015." When I click on these, it'll open a browser.
And take me to this MSDN web page. I can also read information about what's new in Windows, in Microsoft Azure, in ASP.NET 5, and so on. There's also a News feed here, and at the bottom, is a list of training videos that you can watch. For instance, I can watch this "What's new in C# 6" video. Now, this start page is configurable. You can choose what you see after Visual Studio is opened.
To do this, I need to go to the Tools Options menu. And click on Environment, and then on Startup. In this drop down, are all my choices of what I can show when Visual Studio starts. Let's examine each one of these in detail. In the app's Startup drop down are six choices which control what you see when you start Visual Studio. I'll start by examining the Show Empty Environment. This displays an empty IDE when you start Visual Studio.
There is no Start Page shown, there is no project loaded, no dialog shown, just the basic Visual Studio interface. The next setting is the Load Last-loaded Solution. This setting causes Visual Studio to load the last saved solution, and restore the UI and document windows to their previous state. Any files that were open in the solution when it was last closed are open and displayed when you start Visual Studio. Here in Visual Studio I can see the Solution Explorer, and I have the tab Editor's Tour solution open.
Next I'll look at the Open Project dialog box. This setting forces Visual Studio to display the Open Project dialog box upon startup. There is not project loaded, there is no solution loaded, there is no Start Page shown, just this dialog called Open Project. Next, we'll look at the Show New Project dialog box. This forces Visual Studio to display the New Project dialog box when you start Visual Studio. The Open Homepage instructs Visual Studio to add a tab to the Visual Studio IDE, and to load a web page into the tab.
The web page defaults to an MSDN URL. Here you can see the current URL. Notice that the tab also says "Learn to develop..." and some more text. You can customize the URL and load other web pages. I'll show you how to specify a different URL in a moment. Finally, you can choose the Start Page option. This is the default setting, so if you haven't changed anything in the Options dialog, this is what you'll see when you start Visual Studio. I often get asked "What is the difference "between showing the Homepage or the Start Page?" Let me explain more about these two items.
The Homepage is shown in a document tab. Inside the tab, is an embedded browser. That browser, which is a fully functioning browser, shows a web page. Whatever that web page can do in Chrome or IE, it can also do in the Visual Studio browser. The Start Page is also shown in a document tab. That tab contains a special Windows Presentation Foundation page. This page is programmed in C# and can interact with the Visual Studio environment. That means that any feature available in Visual Studio can be accessed from the page.
The default Start Page only provides a few features, like Load Project, and Create New Project. But custom Start Pages can be created to do much more. I promised to show you how to set a custom URL for the Home Page. To do that, I will open the Tools menu, and then choose the Options menu item, I'll move to the Startup section, and choose the Open Home Page, then I'll scroll down to the Web Browser section, and change this URL here for the Home Page.
And then click "Ok." Now the next time I open Visual Studio, I'm greeted with the custom lynda.com page. I'm nearly done with this video, before I quit, I'll reset Visual Studio back to the Default Show Start Page. It's possible to use a custom Start Page, but that's beyond the scope of this video. This concludes the look at the Start Page. Since it greets you every time you open Visual Studio, take the time to familiarize yourself with its features.
It will help you get started with your projects faster.
- Understanding tool and window types
- Working with the Solution Explorer
- Pinning tabbed editors
- Working in full-screen mode
- Sizing windows