Santosh Benjamin's Weblog

Adventures with AppFabric, BizTalk & Clouds

Posts Tagged ‘Feature Builder

Feature Builder – ‘The Book’

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One of the really cool things about Feature Builder is that the guidance documentation also opens up inside VS and is available as you build extensions. However, this can also be limiting sometimes. If you want to just read through the material end to end to get a feel for the product or need a quick reference (or prefer a hardcopy) then the VS channel doesnt help. 

Michael Lehman has provided an ‘offline’ documentation PDF which we have  now made available at the Feature Builder Contrib workspace.  Do note that this is a compilation of the guidance that unfolds inside VS so the hyperlinks wont work. This is just meant to be a ‘ready reference’ and not to replace the in-product guidance. We will try to update it for each release.

Check it out and send us feedback and also let us know what other content would be useful. As you use FB and FBContrib, if you would like to contribute any ‘User Notes’ (like the MSDN Community Content) with tips etc, then please do send that to us on the Contrib workspace and we will add it to the documentation.


Written by santoshbenjamin

September 17, 2010 at 8:49 AM

Troubleshooting the VS10 Experimental Instance

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Running the Experimental Instance from Command Line

Sometimes when running the experimental instance (for example when debugging a visual studio extension such as Feature Builder), the system throws error messages such as the error in following screenshot and asks us to run the application (that is, the experimental instance) on the command line with a “/log” parameter.


In order to run the experimental instance from the command line with the logging parameter,  enter the following on a command prompt

“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\Common7\IDE\devenv.exe” /rootSuffix Exp /log

 This will then launch the instance and the log file will be populated. In general you are looking for information there that highlights if the extension clashes with another.

Completely resetting the Experimental Instance

In my case, while there were many ‘clashes’, it didn’t tell me what was specifically wrong. So, to fix this, I had to resort to Daniel Cazzulino’s post where he explains how to reset the experimental hive completely.

In case your Start menu doesn’t have a pinned option to “Reset the Experimental Hive” (mine didn’t), you can find it in the Start –> All Programs –> Visual Studio 2010 SDK –>Tools menu

Now when you launch the “rest Experimental hive” command line option, it will show the progress of initializing the experimental hive as shown in the screen below

Reset Experimental Instance

As Daniel points out, when you first launch the experimental hive after that you need to manually enable the extensions in Extension Manager and after that it should work as normal.

One of the problems I had was that the experimental instance still had Feature Builder RC (0.9) installed so it refused to show me any of the new templates or my projects when debugging and this clean reset sorted the issue out.

Hope this helps if you run into issues with the experimental instance.

Written by santoshbenjamin

September 1, 2010 at 9:38 PM

Introduction to Feature Builder

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My first post for our MCS Solution Development Blog is now live and it’s on the topic of Feature Builder. This is the first in a series of posts in which we will go deep into the Feature Builder tooling and explore all that it offers for building Feature Extensions. I’ll link to the posts here on this blog but won’t cross post the same content, although i may post separate related content here.

Check it out and send me some feedback on the topics you’d like to see covered in this series. Also have a look at the ton of other great posts that my colleagues have been writing on everything from Azure to XAML (and all alphabets in between 🙂 ).

Written by santoshbenjamin

September 1, 2010 at 9:29 PM

Feature Builder Contrib

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Just to call out that Edward Bakker is coordinating a new Contrib project for Feature Builder. This project provides more feature extensions  such as Value Providers and Commands that can be added to an FB project. We are going to start looking into using Feature Builder for the next version of WSCF Blue.

If you are familiar with GAT/GAX and the pre-cursor to FB , Blueprints, do take a look at what we are doing in this new FBContrib project and send in your ideas and suggestions for more extensions. If you have some experience in these areas and would like to join and contribute, please let us know.

Written by santoshbenjamin

August 4, 2010 at 9:03 AM

VS Feature Builder Power-Tool

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A new Architecture power tool, the Feature Builder has been announced. This is the outcome of the earlier Blueprints project. As I had written earlier, in many ways Blueprints was the successor to GAT/GAX in terms of a platform for providing executable guidance inside Visual Studio and in its first incarnation was very much an ‘incubation project’.

To quote the introductory paragraph from the MSDN Channel 9 intro video page

“Feature Builder is an official Power Tool from the Architecture Tools team within the Visual Studio Product Group enabling the rapid construction of Visual Studio Extensions (VSIXs) that combine VS Extensibility (menus, etc.) , Project/Item/T4 templates and step-by-step guidance/documentation. The output VSIX, called a Feature Extension, delivers all these things, including the guidance, directly within Visual Studio”

The MSDN Forum for this tool is here and there is a FAQ posted by David Trowbridge, the architect on the project on this thread which explains what versions of VS are needed etc. There are a number of intro videos on Channel 9

All of this now builds on the architecture & modeling capability inside VS2010, so the tool itself cannot be run in a previous version (say VS2008) (I know it should  be pretty obvious, but equally sure that someone still using VS2008 is going to ask this 🙂 ). I guess if you attach code generation to the models that you build with this, then those could emit code for solutions in .NET 3.5.

Another question that is bound to come up now is “what happens to the old P&P software factories such as the Service Factory, Web Client SF and so on“. The P&P team have blogged about refreshing the factories for GAT/GAX 2010 and there is no public information yet on what impact, if any, this Feature Builder tool will have on those factories going forward, but as soon as I hear of any plans that can be disclosed, I’ll post a follow up.

Check out the tool and send the team feedback via the MSDN forum. I expect to dive in head first now and share what I learn here. Enjoy 🙂 .

Written by santoshbenjamin

April 2, 2010 at 2:04 PM