Delivering on a promise – the essential extension pack

Mads Kristensen

During Microsoft Build 2020 in May, developers watching the live stream asked me to make it easy to acquire the basic extensions all Visual Studio users would benefit from. What a great idea, so of course I said yes. The wait is now over, get the The Essentials extension pack today!

Image madsk 2020 build session

During my Visual Studio 2019 (remote dev) tips & tricks session at the Build conference, I showed off a few extensions. I’m a big fan of Visual Studio extensions and write quite a few of them when I have the time. So, when asked several times for a quick and easy way to install the most useful extensions, I said “sure, I’ll make an extension pack”.

An extension pack is a single extension that asks Visual Studio to install one or more other extensions. They are super easy to make and both Web Essentials and Extensibility Essentials are examples of extension packs. Those are two extension packs targeting very specific types of development and not relevant for any other.

It takes longer to come up with a name for an extension pack than to build one

This new extension pack has two requirements:

  1. Must only contain extensions relevant to all developers
  2. Its name must end with the word Essentials (my rule)

First, I needed to identify the extensions I can’t live without and then remove ones that aren’t useful for all developers. That gives me this list of extensions:

Second, I had to come up with a good name. Something that describes a set of extensions that are generally useful, performant, reliable, and of high quality. I couldn’t think of anything clever, so the name I came up with is:

Basic The Essentials

Can you do better?

Is this the best list of extensions and could the name need some improvement? Let me know in the comments below.

If you want to create your own extension pack, then check out the walkthrough and the source code of Basic The Essentials. That’s a bit misleading, because no code is required to create an extension pack. It’s just a JSON file built in a certain way.