Microsoft has launched a plug-in for Visual Studio, Microsoft’s IDE for Windows Development, called Bing Developer Assistant. The plug-in addresses some significant complaints by developers, which is always a good sign, since these are the people that help make the platform valuable. And one of the biggest selling points of Microsoft’s pitch to its developers is a refined and integrated developing environment and experience.
The Bing Developer Assistant has three main features. First is integration with IntelliSense. While coding, a relevant code snippet – example code you can learn from or use as a base – will populate the IntelliSense frame. IntelliSense is one of the biggest selling points of Visual Studio. While writing code, it provides smart completion suggestions and a quick summary of the API you are using. This integration has made this feature, considered by many to be best in class, even better. This expansion of IntelliSense is currently only available in C#, with the promise of support for other languages coming soon.
Second is the Sample Browser window. This is a tab inside Visual Studio where you can search for code snippets and code sample projects – complete visual studious projects you can download and run/tweak. Contrasting this with other IDE’s where you have to download projects by searching the internet and finding compatible projects to your IDE makes it much more impressive.
Third is offline search. Both of the features above are available in offline mode. You can search for code snippets in your local projects, or downloaded sample projects. This is one of those features that is not praised much when it exists, but sorely missed when it doesn’t. Missing offline support in search was also one of the biggest complaints that developers had. It is nice seeing Microsoft addressing that, and expanding offline support.
This extension is an integration and refinement of two plug-ins that already existed, the Sample Browser and Bing Code Search. Microsoft took the chance to make developers happy, make the tools more intuitive and integrated. And these are exactly the type of features that make many swear by Visual Studio, and help lure developers into a welcoming and accommodating environment.
Aside from all of this, it is rather interesting how integrated Bing is becoming into Microsoft’s ecosystem. Moves such as branding a search plug-in with Bing, helps more people become accustomed to Bing, and promotes its brand – which is its biggest weakness facing the uphill battle against Google’s brand, which is ranked second in the world by Interbrand.