Visual Studio Minimalist Toolbar

Although for most functions in Visual Studio, I use shortcut keys, a couple of buttons for when you are already on the mouse is very handy. Visual Studio however has multiple toolbars and a load of buttons that, for the most part, just take up valuable screen real estate. Even on my new triple 22” wide screen setup.

The question of using the Ribbon in Visual Studio was raised on the new Visual Studio UserVoice feedback forums. I personally gave this three votes, but I am also in favour of as little toolbars as possible. So I added the comment:

The Ribbon done right would have a customizable quick access toolbar which would include the Debug button and your other frequent ones there. And as with the Office Ribbons you can collapse it to just the tabs, so in effect, you can have more screen real estate all the time while still accessing any functions you want with, at most, two clicks. Much better than continually showing and hiding the relevant toolbars. However, Visual Studio currently lets you put toolbar buttons right up in the menu row, which is where I have my common buttons and can remove any other toolbar.

That would give you something like this, as I have in Windows Live Writer:

Windows Live Writer Ribbon - Customizable and Collapsed

However, I just want to elaborate what I meant by buttons in the menu bar, as my colleagues didn’t know you could do it either.

  1. Right-click any where on the toolbars and click Customize…
  2. Select the Commands tab
    Commands Tab
  3. Menu Bar is already selected, so click, Add Command…
    Add Command...
  4. Select the command you want
    Add Command Dialog
  5. Position and Customize it’s details
    Customize Item

And here is the result:

Visual Studio Minimal toolbar

Debug Lambda Expressions

Although I think the Ribbon would clean things up nicely and allow everyone easy minimal toolbars with the quick access, better function and shortcut key discovery, as seen above, it is already quite customizable. With that in mind I think the time would be much better spent getting the debugger able to evaluate Lambda expressions. Time and time again, I am stopped because I cannot evaluate a simple .Select(x =>x == y). Whether this is in the code you have written, or just something you want to write in the quick watch or immediate window to determine the contents of something quickly. I raised this suggestion:

Debug Lambda expressions

Allow Quick Watch and other Debug functions to work with Lambda expressions.

"Expression cannot contain lambda expressions" makes this powerful language feature second-class within the IDE.

Especially for data intensive applications being able to write Lambda expressions in the Quick Watch, Watch, Immediate Windows and debug evaluation is a must have.

Which I am pleased to say has got to the top 3 on the Hottest Ideas. So please vote on it.

Debug Lambda expressions - 3rd Hottest Idea

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