Extend the Visual Studio IDE

Extend the Visual Studio IDE

Since Visual Studio 2008, developers have been able to extend Visual Studio to add new capabilities to the IDE. With the new Community edition, any developer can use those extensions as well. Extend the same platform APIs as the product team to build productivity tools like the thousands of extensions on the Visual Studio Gallery, or add new capabilities to Visual Studio like our partners do today. Add new UI such as menu items and tool windows that expose useful productivity tools.


Visual Studio was built for extensibility to expand the functionality of the IDE. Here are some examples of how you can extend the Visual Studio IDE.

  • Add new UI such as menu items and tool windows to add your own tools.
  • Extend the editor and our compilers to analyze and understand your code.
  • Extend Visual Studio Online and Team Foundation Server to analyze information, manage the development workflow, or integrate external development services.
  • Integrate a new compiler and project type into Visual Studio to bring new assets into your solution.
  • Distribute your tool with the Visual Studio shell even if your users don’t have Visual Studio.
  • Reach millions of Visual Studio developers by publishing extensions on the Gallery, for free.

Getting Started

Get started by downloading the Visual Studio SDK. The Visual Studio SDK provides the libraries, tools, and project templates for creating a variety of different extensions.

These tutorials take you step by step through creating your first extensions and learning about what’s possible in the IDE.

Hello World

This tutorial takes you step by step through creating your first extension.

Create your first Hello World menu for Visual Studio

Menu and Commands

Want to your own functionality to be available on a Visual Studio menu? Learn how to add commands to the IDE.

How to: Create Menus, SubMenus, and Shortcut Menus

Tool Windows

Need a new window with your own UI inside Visual Studio? Find out how to use the templates in the Visual Studio SDK to add a tool window and design your UI.

How to: Create a Tool Window

Editor Extensions

Have you ever wondered how to get the text in the editor, add custom adornments over text, plug into the margin, or expand IntelliSense? Follow this guide to get started adding your first editor extension.

Get Started with Editor Extensions

.NET Compiler Platform (“Roslyn”) Extensions

Do you want to analyze the semantic and syntactic structure of your code? Extend the new .NET Compilers in Visual Studio to analyze and understand your code.

Getting started with the .NET Compiler Platform (“Roslyn”)

New Project Templates

Want to create a new template for you or your team and make it available in the New Project Dialog? Find out how to use the Visual Studio SDK to make your own project templates.

Creating an Installable Project Template

Deploy your extension

Want to share your extension with your peers, your team, or the world? Package your extension for anyone with Visual Studio to use.

Create a VSIX to package and deploy your extension

Learn more

Browse the Visual Studio Gallery for inspiration, then explore the Visual Studio SDK samples on the Code Gallery to learn about what else you can build.

There are many more resources to help you integrate with Visual Studio.  If you have questions, take a look at our Visual Studio extensibility forum.

The community has lots to say about Visual Studio extensibility. Here are some sites we like that have lots of useful tips about favorite extension and how to build your own Visual Studio extensions: