Solution Explorer gets new features in VS 2011

The more I play with VS 2011 (in Dev Preview, don’t hold me if things in future versions don’t have what I’ve mentioned below), the more interesting I find it. Productivity Power Tools is a VS plugin which has some interesting features (blogged here) and one of them was the Solution Navigator. A good number of the features from Solution Navigator have been incorporated in the good ol’ Solution Explorer now.

Below is what my console application looks like in the Solution Explorer.


Not just the files in the project, you can also see the properties and methods declared in a file. Double-click on a method and it’ll open the file (if not open yet) and take you directly to that method declaration.

You can search for a particular file/type in the search bar provided above.


If you want to get back to the previous view, you can click either click on the back arrow on the top. The forward and back navigation keys remember your previous actions. So you can click on the back button to go back to the full view and then return to this one by clicking on the forward arrow… cool!

You can collapse all projects if you have a bunch of projects in a solution, by clicking the up arrow button.

One of the things that did not exist in Solution Navigator was the concept called ‘Promote’ (at least that’s what I call it). Click on the icon that appears on the right side of the selected item and you’ll get a popup menu like below:


Clicking on ‘Contains’ shows all the types declared in that file. If you of click (just click, not double- or right-click) on any of the listed types, a tab opens up.


Have a look at the ‘Promote’ icon on the tab (now you know why I called this the ‘Promote’ feature), clicking it will ‘promote’ this to an actual tab and shift it to the left along with other open tabs. Hmm.. interesting.

There is one thing that I think is a ‘nice to have’ feature. Just as we can ‘open-up’ a file and see the types declared in it, we should be able to do so even on referenced assemblies in the project. So we could just expand the System assembly and see what classes are declared in it right-away. May be the VS team is already working on it.

Verdict: Though still in Dev Preview, VS 2011 and .net 4.5 are already making news!


  • Nice changes!

    Can we also get some features to handle solutions with many projects in it? Like > 100?
    One of the feature required is "collapse solution". Its available as a plug-in, but its bugy.


  • I'm surprised that Microsoft is already moving forward with another version of Visual Studio.  VS 2010 is quite an inovation as compared to the previous ten years--where VS 7.0 through VS 2008 weren't much different from one another.  

    I figured that it would have been at least two years before another version, let alone another innovation, of Visual Studio was released (or previewed).

    I thought they would've released VS 2010 R2 or something similar.  I'm not complaining in any way and I like innovations from Microsoft (they are not as rare today as in the past).

    I run Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate and so far I've used the equivalent of 2010 Professional, meaning that I haven't used the test features or anything that comes with Ultimate over Professional.  

    But I still love it--the look and feel.  Everything except a few minor quirks which really don't interfere in my development process so I don't mind at all.

    If I could afford to buy the new versions right away I would.  As it stands, I'm lucky I was able to grab a $6,000 development environment in 2010.  

    We'll just wait and see.  As for me personally, I wouldn't use any other development environment than Visual Studio.  Unless of course I'm using it alongside of VS, which I do quite often (use 3rd party apps in conjunction).

    Thanks for the great review by the way as I put my five dollar and two cents worth in. ;)

  • Goooood, but this was appeared in Eclipse very long ago. ^_^
    But the "go back" function is also very cool!

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