The Open Sourcing of the GitHub Extension for Visual Studio
Writing extensions to Visual Studio is really hard. As in turn your hair gray hard. In fact, I now have gray hairs and I didn’t when I started the GitHub Extension for Visual Studio project (true story).
Some of the challenge is in the fact that Visual Studio has been around a long time and has accumulated multiple different extensibility systems (such as DTE and MEF) and points (such as Editor extensions and Project Systems) to learn. But that’s not the real challenge. The real challenge is that Visual Studio is so flexible and offers so many extensibility points that it can be hard to figure out where to start. It’s almost too much of a good thing.
Fortunately, Andreia and I had the help of the Visual Studio team at Microsoft as we worked together to add GitHub features to the release candidate for Visual Studio 2015 last April. Not to mention the fact that Andreia has more Visual Studio extensibility experience in her pinky than ten of me would have.
Well today Microsoft announced the RTM of Visual Studio 2015. Congratulations!
We figured, what better time than now to open up the code we used to build the extension? In discussions with the Visual Studio team, we all agreed that the more real world examples of Visual Studio extensions are out there, the better for everyone. This is in part why we released the GitHub Extension for Visual Studio under the MIT license today.
I’ll be honest with you, the extension doesn’t do a whole lot today. What it does do is important, it handles the authentication aspects (including two-factor authentication) of working with Git and GitHub. It makes it easy to clone repositories into Visual Studio as well as publishing new projects.
But we plan to do so much more. Our next major feature will add support for creating Pull Requests right from Visual Studio similar to the way GitHub for Windows supports it.
If this sort of thing appeals to you, we’d love to have you participate. Every contribution matters whether it’s logging an issue or submitting a pull request.
On a personal level, this has been a fun project for me. The idea of extending my primary development environment has always appealed to me, but I never felt I had the time to learn how.
It was great to work with people who are world class experts in this environment. I learned a huge amount. Not to mention the fact that even though I’m a manager now and don’t get to code as much as I used to, I made an exception (out of necessity) and spent a lot of time writing code for this project which made me very happy.
Preparing for this project is what lead me to write the Encourage Extension (shameless plug).