Options in Visual Studio 2013

This blog entry is a transcript of a video. You can view the entire contents of my Visual Studio videos on YouTube.


In this video, I would like to cover a few of the options in Visual Studio. On the screen now, you can see the Visual Studio Integrated Development Environment, or IDE. If I click on the Tools menu and then Options, I can bring up a dialog box.

The default location, when it opens, is the General Options for the Environment.


In the newer versions of Visual Studio, you have the option to change your theme.


The default theme for both Visual Studio 2012 and 2013 is the light theme.


If I click on the menu, I see I can choose the Dark or Blue theme, as well. I will select the blue theme, as it is new for Visual Studio 2013. Personally, I think this theme adds a bit, especially in the offset of the toolboxes, but is not that much different from the light theme.


I can also open the options and choose the Dark theme. If you want to reduce eye strain in lower light environments, this is a good theme to use.


Task List

Still under Environment is another nice feature that I don’t find utilized very often. That is the task list settings.


One great use for the settings here is to add your own tokens. As I try to push quality, one token I like to add to the list is ADD TESTS. While TODO will cover this in many environments, I find adding this tag and giving it high priority puts the point across that the team should be focused on ensuring they are writing tests first and ensuring proper code coverage. I add the //ADD TEST comments during code reviews, as test coverage is part of the review.

I have also found that adding team members’ names can be useful in some instances, especially with distributed teams.

One more environment thing. If you want to see videos, like I have on my front page, you have to turn them on. This is done by clicking the Download Content every checkbox under Startup.


Projects and Solutions

If I move out of Environment and down to Projects and Solutions I can show you the next thing I change. Since my development machines are not shared, I want to place my code in a common place. My location is C:\projects. I keep the templates in their normal location, however, as I see no reason to dink too much with these templates.


Project Options

If I am on a project using Visual Basic, which is rare, I also like to click on the Visual Basic options and turn Option Strict on. I am not sure why Microsoft chooses to turn this of, but it is rare I do not use Option Strict when using VB.


Source Control

The main option with Source Control is choosing your source control plug in.


This is necessary if you are using something other than Team Foundation Server. In Visual Studio 2013, the only other built in option is Git. There is one other setting that you sometimes have to use here. If you are set up to use a proxy server, there is an option to use a proxy server for file downloads.

Text Editor

One option I always set here is on All Languages. I used to make sure Line numbers was set here for everything, but almost everything includes line numbers.



There is a nice feature under Debugging called Symbols. While you rarely have to use this in day to day operations, this option allows you to download the .pdb, or program database, files so you can debug into the .NET framework code. This was released in the Visual Studio 2005 timeframe, if I remember correctly, and I actually caught a bug in the framework using these symbols. Someone had already logged the bug and I found a hotfix, but it certainly saved some time for the team on developing.


To use this, you click on the checkbox and specify a folder. You can also add your own symbol cache in your organization to debug code that is published from other teams by clicking on the folder icon above the locations box.


On a note similar to symbols is the Package Manager options. If you are using nuGet in your organization, you will want to look at the ability to add your own package source.


Click on the plus sign and add the repository here.


That pretty much covers the options I have used with any regularity. A few are a bit obscure, like the symbols or Package Manager settings, but there are some nice ones you should find useful.

Peace and Grace,

Twitter: @gbworld
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/gabworld


One Response to Options in Visual Studio 2013

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