As I mentioned yesterday I was at a cross-roads regarding if/how I should continue with my little olde XPath syntax hilighter. After spending a while looking into visual studio add-ins as an option, I eventually took the plunge and downloaded and installed VSIP for VS 2005 beta 2 (along with the documentation refresh). This evening I’ve been perusing the documentation (which is quite good) for insights into what is possible with VSIP. The short answer seems to be - everything. I guess this is unsurprising but VSIP opens up VS in a very deep way to extension (maybe more deeply than what is warranted for my simple util, but it’s interesting to look at the options). As far as “language” extensions to VS go (a custom sytnax hilighter for XPath say would be called a language service in VSIP parlace) two options available up-front are an un-managed package called Babel, or a managed interface called the Managed Package Framework (MPF). Other VSIP coolness: there is a Visual Studio Language Service Wizard, and when you install VSIP you get a link to the very 31337-souding “Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Experimental“ added to your start menu.
Two “demo“ language service packages I’ll be looking into over the next couple of days are Visual IL from Craig Sikbo and this very simple language service (written for a Tech-Ed 2004 integration ‘cook-off’ with VS 2005 VSIP beta 1) by Allen Denver.