15 Most Useful Visual Studio Extensions

For .NET developers, Using Visual Studio (VS) is unavoidable, unless they are using different operating systems from Windows. The most recent version of VS is 2013 and VS 2014 will be officially released soon. There are still many developers using VS 2012 as well. VS itself is still a powerfull IDE but, with plenty of extensions provided from Visual Studio Gallery, VS can be more powerful to use. In this article, I will introduce 15 most useful VS extensions for development, as well as some more extensions to consider. Of course, this solely comes from my personal development experience, so other developers might have different opinions. Please bear this in your mind. :-)


1. NuGet Package Manager

If you haven’t used NuGet for your development, you are doing it wrong.

2. SlowCheetah - XML Transforms

Like Web.config transformation, SlowCheetah enables your App.config to get transformed for your configuration profiles – DEBUG, DEV, TEST and RELEASE. Unfortunately, no longer maintenance will be provided for VS 2014.

Code Readability

3. CodeMaid

As it argues, it does do all development dirty works. This is a powerful tool to clean your source codes that contains a lot of spaces and tabs. It also provides McCabe complexity scores to consider refactoring points. There are much more features that I haven’t utilised.

4. Indent Guides

This is just a small thing but offers you a better readability for indentation.

5. Ref12

Punching F12 gives you metadata information, which is not sufficient enough. With this extension, F12 will show you the source codes from http://referencesource-beta.microsoft.com.

Entity Framework

6. Entity Framework Power Tools Beta 4

Are you sick of creating POCO classes for code first approach in Entity Framework? This will significantly reduce your work with just a few mouse clicks.

Unit Testing

7. NCrunch

During the development, NCrunch runs unit tests in parallel, which has been already written for your application, to provide your test code coverage. That code coverage checking is performed in real-time. If you want a cheaper option, dotCOVER from JetBrains might be yours.


With this extension, you can easily add a NUnit test project for your ASP.NET MVC website development. It also provides a unit test template with NUnit. Therefore, if you are sick of structuring NUnit test class, this will significantly reduce your typing efforts.

It doesn’t support VS 2013 or later, though.

9. NUnit Test Adapter

If you are a big fan of NUnit and want to integrate its test adapter with your Visual Studio, this extension will give you much breathing. You don’t have to run the test runner separately.

Web Development

10. Javascript Parser

This provides structural indicators when you are working on large amount of javascripts.

11. SideWaffle Template Pack

This extension offers various project templates and item templates for building websites, Windows apps, and a lot more.

12. Web Essentials

If you code HTML, CSS, JavaScript or anything related to web development, with this extension, you will get a lot of help to make your life easier.


13. VSCommands for Visual Studio

There are tens of features supported by this extension including visual assistance, build assistance and debug assistance.

14. Productivity Power Tools

This provides many features as if they are just bundled with native Visual Studio. Without this, you might feel somethings are missing.

15. ReSharper

No need to say more. Just use it.


So far, I’ve just briefly revised 15 VS extensions you might be interested in. Some of them are the ones you’ve already been using, others are not. The following three extensions might be attractive for you to use.

Unit Test Generator

Are you a big fan of MS-Test? This extension helps you create unit test classes, methods and other stuffs with one click.

xUnit.net runner for Visual Studio

You prefer using xUnit to other testing framework and have been sick of running tests in a command-line? This integrates your test runner with Visual Studio.


Business requirements can be directly bound into your codes. If you are happy to apply BDD approach for your project, this extension will give you a lot of freedom. This works pretty well with any of your unit testing framework.

You don’t have to install all of them, even you can use your VS without extensions. However, once you get used to any extensions, you won’t be happy without them.

Happy coding!