Visual Studio 2013

CTRL + BACKSPACE

I’ve been working in Visual Studio for years – long enough that many of the most useful keyboard shortcuts are now permanently embedded in my finger muscle memory. Sure, there are plenty of shortcuts I need to look up from time to time but I usually think I have a pretty good handle on them. Every once in a while though, I do something silly and Visual Studio either rewards or punishes me in an unexpected way. Today was one of those days.

For whatever reason, I was holding the ctrl key when I hit backspace in VS2013 and suddenly the entire property name just disappeared! I tried it again and the preceding dot disappeared. One more time and the object name disappeared.

I have no idea how it’s taken me this long to stumble upon this shortcut but I’m glad I did! You can see the behavior in the animation below.

VisualStudioQuickBackspace

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Receiving Webhooks With IIS Express

One of the projects I’m currently working on is using a service that reports various events back to our system via webhooks. Since the features I’m working on aren’t ready for deployment yet I was looking for a decent way to test the integration in my development environment to ensure that I’m not only receiving the correct data but also that I’m handling it properly.

The service’s documentation recommended pointing the webhooks to another service such as RequestBin to inspect the contents. I did mess around with that approach for a bit and although I was certainly able to see the requests in the RequestBin log and push them on to the application with fiddler, it really didn’t seem like an adequate solution and I was tired so I went to bed.

It turns out that sleeping on it was exactly what I needed. Sometime overnight I subconsciously worked out a better solution; I could open up IIS Express to handle remote connections and configure NAT on my router to forward requests for that port directly to the IIS Express instance. It turns out that getting all this working was actually quite simple.

Allowing Remote Connections

Allowing remote connections to IIS Express requires a little work but it’s pretty straight-forward and is outlined in this stackoverflow post. In short we need to:

  1. Create an additional IP binding for the IIS Express site to allow traffic from all hosts.
  2. Allow connections to the port from anyone
  3. Create a firewall rule to allow traffic to the port on the development machine

Creating an IIS Express Binding

IIS Express sites are managed per-user. To create the IIS Express binding we simply need to create a new entry for the site in the configuration file located at %userprofile%\documents\iisexpress\config\applicationhost.config. In the file locate the site then duplicate the binding, changing the allowed host to *. For example, if the current binding is:

I’ve used port 99999 in these examples for demonstration purposes only. You’ll want to use the port listed in your configuration file.

<binding protocol="http" bindingInformation="*:99999:localhost" />

You’d create a copy and change localhost to * such that it reads like this:

<binding protocol="http" bindingInformation="*:99999:*" />

It’s very important that you leave the original binding in place. Yes, it is redundant to have a binding for all hosts and another for only localhost but Visual Studio uses the localhost binding to initialize IIS Express. If that binding isn’t present Visual Studio will create a duplicate site entry and you’ll likely start seeing errors such as the one pictured below.

URL Binding Failure

URL Binding Failure

Setting Security on the Port

Once you’ve created the IIS Express binding you need to allow connections to the port. This is done by executing target=”_blank”>netsh to add a URL reservation for the new binding. In this case we’ll be using netsh http add urlacl to register the address we bound to the IIS Express site and granting permission to everyone.

netsh http add urlacl url=http://*:99999/ user=everyone

Note that “everyone” refers to the Everyone group in Windows. If you’re using a non-English version you’ll need to change that to the localized name for your language.

Creating a Firewall Rule

The final step is allowing traffic to that port through the local firewall. Accomplishing this varies according to which firewall solution you’re using. For Windows firewall you can control this through the control panel or by executing the following netsh command which changes some advanced firewall configuration settings.

netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name=”IISExpressWeb” dir=in protocol=tcp localport=99999 profile=private remoteip=any action=allow

Configuring NAT

Configuring NAT is not something I can really help with in this article because each environment will have its own instructions and restrictions. For me and my home office network it was easy because I simply had to add a custom application that referenced the configured port and host machine in my router’s firewall configuration.

Alternatively, I could have configured the IP Passthrough to route traffic to the development machine but I deemed this to be too much exposure to the outside world and left it with NAT.

Accepting Webhooks

Once I’d configured everything on my network to accept the webhook traffic I went to the external application’s dashboard and registered my computer as a webhook recipient using the WLAN IP address I obtained from my router’s status page and the port I bound to IIS Express for the application. I then set a breakpoint in the webhook processing logic, ran the application, made a change in the remote system to initiate sending an event, then watched in amazement as my breakpoint was hit and the watch window showed data received from the remote service.

Mission accomplished.

Changing the Default TFS Check-in Action

It’s been a number of years since I worked with TFS. Now that I’m back in that world one of the things that has bitten me is that by default any tasks tied to a check-in are resolved by default. Automatically marking tasks as complete has left me scratching my head in bewilderment as I wondered why a task I’m actively working on was no longer listed under my tasks. I can see the utility of this behavior in some circumstances but I often make incremental check-ins as I work through more complex tasks so clearly I don’t want checking in my changes to automatically close the task.

Since relying on my memory to change the check-in action from Resolve to Associate clearly isn’t adequate here I looked for some way to change the default behavior. I found that there are two ways to achieve this, neither of which are obvious.

The first method is to remove the Microsoft.VSTS.Actions.Checkin action from the work item template. The other method applies only to the client machine but requires a registry edit. Neither option is particularly great but given that the first option requires you to have authorization to modify the template and applies to each user of the template, I opted for the second approach.

To disable the default resolution option you need to locate HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\VisualStudio\12.0\TeamFoundation\SourceControl\Behavior\ResolveAsDefaultCheckinAction and change the ResolveAsDefaultCheckinAction value from True to False. After making the change, restart Visual Studio and the Associate should now be selected the next time you try adding a work item to the check-in.

ResolveAsDefaultCheckinAction option

More VS2013 Scroll Bar Magic

Yesterday I wrote about map mode, an exciting enhancement to Visual Studio 2013’s vertical scroll bar. If you haven’t enabled the feature yet, go do it, I’ll wait.

If you had the Productivity Power Tools extension installed prior to enabling the feature, you may have noticed that there are some extra annotations in the scroll bar. These annotations, shown in the form of vertical lines and “bubbles” illustrate scope and nesting level.

You can control whether these annotations are displayed by changing the “Show code structure in the margin” setting under Productivity Power Tools/Other extensions in the options dialog. So far, I think they’re pretty helpful so I plan on leaving them enabled; at least for a while.

EnableCodeStructure

VS2013 Scroll Bar Map Mode

At Nebraska Code Camp this past weekend, Mike Douglas talked a bit about the developer productivity enhancements included in VS2013. One of the features that I’d missed until his talk was the vertical scroll bar’s map mode.

Beyond the now familiar annotations for changes, errors, and cursor position, the scroll bar’s map mode shows a low-resolution depiction of the structure of the code in the current file. This can be helpful for ascertaining the context of a particular piece of code or identifying duplicated code by observing patterns in the structure, among other things.

Perhaps just as useful is that when map mode is enabled, the scroll bar can also show a tooltip containing a preview of the code at any point on the map. To see the tooltip, simply hover over a point of interest.

I’ve only just started to use this feature but I think it’ll aid immensely in code discovery.

EnableScrollbarMap