If you haven’t seen the news, PowerShell Tools for Visual Studio is now available on the Visual Studio Gallery! The first beta brings with it many enhancements from alphas past and supports VS2013 RC. Here’s a quick overview of the current state of the extension.
The current requirements for PoshTools are PowereShell v3 and Visual Studio 2012 or 2013RC. Several people have asked for VS2010 support and I’m researching the necessary changes. Also, there is a lot of interest in supporting VS2013 Isolated Shell. If the extension could be released in this manner it would make it completely free; just like the Python Tools for Visual Studio.
- Visual Studio 2012 or 2013 RC
- PowerShell v3
- Already Installed on Windows 8 and Server 2012
- Windows Management Framework v3 for Downlevel Systems
The extension adds language support to the Visual Studio editor. Some of the most important features are syntax highlighting, IntelliSense and code folding. IntelliSense with help you complete cmdlets and functions, variables and parameters. Code folding can collapse script blocks and comment blocks. Overall, syntax highlighting should be very similar to the ISE but there are known issues.
In addition to the basic functionality described above, the extension also adds support for the function navigation drop down bars on the top of editors. Using the v3 AST PowerShell API, I was able to discover the functions defined within the current file and present the navigation bars seen at the top of the editor window.
A big next step for the editor is snippet support but extensions do not support this; making it a bit tricky to implement. If you have a particular function you’d like you see in the editor, head over to GitHub.
On top of the big changes to the editor there have also been some big changes to the debugger. The goal was the surpass the ISE in terms of debugging functionality. To accomplish this, I added support for the locals, break point and call stack windows.
The locals window shows all the variables in the current scope and enables the user to expand complex objects to dig down into the object. Just like when debugging other .NET languages, type information is provided. Next on the plate for the locals window is the ability to modify values at runtime. In addition to locals window support, I’m also looking at adding Watch window support.
Another key window when debugging is the break point window. It displays all current pending breakpoints that are set within all the open projects. Like any other break point, the file name and line number are provided. There is no support for conditional break points but would be a good feature to add in the future.
Another important debugging window that is supported by PoshTools is the Call Stack window. Using the Get-PSCallStack cmdlet, the extension can display the current call stack when stepping or breaking in the debugger. There is currently no support for moving call stack frames and interrogating session state.
Finally, like with PowerGUI VSX, there is a project system dedicated to PowerShell. It’s been discussed to add different types of project systems for modules or generic collections of scripts but this isn’t currently the case. The extension exposes a project system that recognizes PSM1, PSD1 and PS1 files. In the current beta there is no support for automatic signing or manifest creation. There are dialogs created for this purpose but the MSBuild tasks and targets aren’t yet hooked into the project system.
I’d love to hear feedback about the current status of the extension. If you are trying it out please leave a review on the Gallery or enter any issues on GitHub.