I was not the only one who created and published extensions for the Visual Studio SharePoint development tools. First there was the SPVSX toolkit by Matt Smith, Wesley Hackett and Todd Bleeker. Then, just a few weeks ago, Wouter van Vugt published his cool toolkit on-line. At some point we all noticed that while we could continue creating new extensions individually, the real power was to join the forces.
A few weeks ago I published an extension for the new Visual Studio SharePoint development tools that simplifies working with SPMetal. Upon installation the extension adds a menu to every Site node in SharePoint Explorer. Using that menu option you can generate the SPMetal definition just as if you would use the SPMetal command line interface itself.
One of the cool things about the new Visual Studio SharePoint development tools is the ability to communicate with SharePoint to retrieve and work with SharePoint content. Running SharePoint code in the context of a Visual Studio SharePoint development tools extension is pretty simple, but you do have to know one thing in order to be able to debug it.
One of the many great things that the Visual Studio SharePoint development tools allow you to do is to help you automate and simplify working with SharePoint content without leaving Visual Studio. Knowing how to retrieve a document opened in Visual Studio using its name, is one of the basic things you need to know to make your extension really powerful.
While extending the new Visual Studio SharePoint development tools, you can create extensions that do various things: from retrieving content of a SharePoint Site and its properties to manipulating it and exporting into SharePoint Project Items (SPI). As some of these operations might take a while to run, it is considered a good practice to let the user know what the extension is doing at the moment.