Welcome to a new category of .NET developer community growth around Visual Studio. The VSX team is incredibly enthused about this new effort and in particular, this special VSX edition of CODE Focus magazine. We want to extend a big thanks to our friends at EPS Software and all the contributors to this edition of CODE Focus. Now, let's jump right into this new community around VSX.

VSX, in a Nutshell

VSX, a shortcut name for Visual Studio Extensibility, represents the VSX community which is a virtual and growing ecosystem that includes the Visual Studio SDK (VS SDK), all aspects of extending Visual Studio (packages, add-ins, macros, visualizers), .NET developers who extend Visual Studio, Visual Studio Industry Partner (VSIP) companies, and the VS SDK team (also known as the VS Tools Ecosystem team). VSX is not a product or project name or project system.

Visual Studio Ecosystem

Visual Studio is the world's leading development environment, and our large partner ecosystem helped us attain that position. Hundreds of companies extend Visual Studio with features such as new development languages, application lifecycle tools, IDE enhancements, reusable components, and much more. These partner offerings help to fill the gaps in the Microsoft product line and deliver tailored end-to-end solutions to customers that we wouldn't reach otherwise.

Microsoft's VSIP program can help you build, integrate, and sell applications, tools, components, and even entire programming languages with Visual Studio and Visual Studio Team System. The VSIP program offers unique benefits to all its members helping developers, tools ISVs, and line of business and infrastructure ISVs. You can find more information about VSIP and our Partner Catalog at http://msdn.com/vsip.

The VSX Team

The VSX Team (also known as the Visual Studio Ecosystem team) is chartered with growing and strengthening this developer tools ecosystem. We ship the Visual Studio SDK, help ISVs integrate their products with Visual Studio, and engage with the enthusiast community extending Visual Studio.

The VS SDK team uses agile project management with SCRUM methodology. We release VS SDK CTPs very frequently, practically on a monthly basis.

Who Is Ken Levy?

As the Program Manager for the VSX team's community efforts, you can see me visible in the community, helping companies and developers as I work on activities such as:

  • Establish a self-sustaining developer community
  • Drive community engagement
  • Work on VSX and VSIP messaging
  • Maintain and expand the VSX presence in the developer community
  • Speak at conference and other community events
  • Establish the VSX online community infrastructure
  • Work with influencers and MVPs who are experts at extending Visual Studio

Our Developer Community Philosophy

As we work on our VSX community building efforts, here are some key strategies that drive our goals:

  • Product team members become community members
  • Community members become extensions of product team
  • Passion for the product is key driver for community growth

VSX Community Goals

Based on our VSX community philosophy, these are our high-level goals for measuring success:

  • Engage developers directly who are using the VS SDK
  • Increase product team member participation with community
  • Increase feedback from community into VS SDK
  • Increase online technical discussions of VS SDK
  • Make VS SDK more easy/fun to use to build passion

Visual Studio 2008 SDK

We want transparency with the community and it's important to us to get your feedback. As such, let me share our current thinking on the roadmap for future releases of the Visual Studio 2008 SDK.

This past summer we released the VS 2008 SDK August 2007 CTP and we plan to release the RTW (release to Web) version of the Visual Studio 2008 SDK sometime soon after the Visual Studio 2008 RTM (release to manufacturing).

The Visual Studio 2005 SDK 4.0 is the last version of the SDK for VS 2005. Upcoming versions of the VS SDK will be for Visual Studio 2008 and beyond.

Visual Studio 2008 Shell

If you create software development tools, you'll want to consider building on the Visual Studio 2008 Shell. A streamlined Visual Studio development environment, the Visual Studio Shell provides the core foundation so you can focus on your application's unique features. Use the Visual Studio SDK to create applications to distribute with the VS 2008 Shell in either integrated or isolated mode. You find more details about the new Visual Studio 2008 Shell including videos on our VSX team blog.

Visual Basic Pack for Visual Studio 2005 SDK

The Visual Basic Pack for Visual Studio 2005 SDK download provides the SDK samples converted in the Visual Basic language and a new wizard that is used for generating Visual Basic-based integration packages for Microsoft Visual Studio. This download is an add-on to version 4.0 of the Visual Studio 2005 SDK. While Visual Basic support for the VS 2005 SDK is in the form of an independent add-on install, the VS 2008 SDK will include support for Visual Basic (along with Visual C++ and Visual C# support).

VSX Developer Center

You can find the home for the VSX Developer Center at http://msdn.com/vsx along with the VS SDK download, documentation, news, resources, team blogs, community references, and more. Check out the VSX Developer Center to find many of the downloads and more detailed information for things mentioned in this letter.

VSX Team Blog

While many of the VSX team members have their own blogs (http://blogs.msdn.com/vsxteam), we have a team blog which I post to for general posts representing the team. I'll usually post news and resources about the Visual Studio SDK, the VSX community, and the VSX team members.

Monthly VSX Community Letters

You can find monthly VSX community letters from the VSX team on the VSX team blog. Feel free to provide feedback on a specific topic you would like to see mentioned in an upcoming letter to the VSX community or how to enhance the monthly letters.

Share VSX CODE Focus Magazine

You can find (and let others know about) the PDF and HTML formats of this special VSX edition of CODE Magazine free online at http://CODE-magazine.com/focus/.

Join the VSX Community

You can become a member of the VSX community by interacting on the MSDN forum for VSX (http://forums.microsoft.com/msdn), and by engaging with community experts, MVPs, insiders, and the product team itself. Subscribe or read the VSX team blog and post comments or trackback with comments on your own blog. View VSX “How-do I” videos online and stay tuned to Channel 9 (http://channel9.msdn.com) for VSX-related content. Extend Visual Studio and share the extensions with the community on our site, at http://CODEPlex.com, or other locations.

Contact the VSX Team

You can contact the product team from the e-mail link on the VSX team blog, or directly to team members who have their own blog listed at http://msdn.com/vsx. For VSIP info, use vsipinfo@microsoft.com. My e-mail address is klevy@microsoft.com, and I'd be glad to put you in touch directly with any of our team members who you see mentioned in the sidebars (20 total!) in this special VSX issue of CODE Magazine. The VSX team looks forward to hearing your feedback and suggestions and working with you to help grow and enhance a community of developers who extend Visual Studio.

* Ken Levy
Program Manager
Visual Studio Ecosystem
Microsoft Corporation*
October 2007