Visual Studio 11: The Wishlist

There's little doubt that Microsoft's Visual Studio is already among the most comprehensive, and best, development suites available. I tend to be the type of person who flits back and forth between software, using what fits the job best. For example, NetBeans is my go-to for Java, and Aptana Studio for web development. However, I find myself choosing Visual Studio a shocking majority of the time for pretty much everything else.

However, for all it's strengths, Visual Studio 2010 is far from ideal for my workflow, and there are two areas where I would like to see a major rethinking of the software in its new version.

1. Better multi-monitor support

How many devs out there use a single monitor. Go ahead, raise your hands. Anyone? Anyone? Hmmm... Development is one of the areas where having multiple monitors is pretty much a necessity, so why is VS's support for it so barebones?

Sure, you can move any of the interface elements over to the other side, but it's simply not enough. Depending on language, I end up organizing things differenty, but I generally end up with 3 sections.

  1. The first section, on the left, are my working files. These are the ones I am actively editing. The ones I want to keep close at hand.
  2. The second section, on the right of my main monitor, are my reference files. Here, I keep all the classes, etc. that I am trying to interface with, or in C++, my header files.
  3. The third section is I/O. All those txt or dat files that you load into the program at launch. Settings, input, whatever I might need to edit to change the output or results.

And this is where VS fails. While it allows you to pull any tab out, and place it on your secondary display, if I want to put multiple files over there, I either have to stack them and use the taskbar (on my other monitor) to switch, or I have to have them side by side.

The panel position selection overlay in VS2010

I'd love to see this behavior: Drag the first tab over there, and it acts just like in VS2010. Drag the second one, and it gives you the position select overlay that the main window does, allowing you to dock things side by side in a single window, or create a second tabbed window for a single project.

2. Stop making me look at the console

The Windows console has had so few upgrades since the earliest days of Windows it's embarrassing. Why, in 2012, can't I highlight and copy/paste from the console with hotkeys? Why do I have to go set defaults to adjust the height of the window?

Instead, when you run a console application in Visual Studio, I want to see a tab or pane, or something in the IDE instead, like NetBeans. It's more integrated, easier to search, copy, parse, and analyze.

3. The little stuff

  • If I highlight text and hit a bracket or quotation mark, I probably mean to enclose the highlighted text with it. I probably didn't want to replace it.
  • If I've typed the full name of a variable already, and then hit down, I mean to navigate to the next line. Not select the thing that's already there from the auto-complete list. It should disappear once you've completed the name

I'm interested to hear from other programmers here: What would you like to see in the new Visual Studio?