In September, I attended Sara Ford's session at Remix UK on Visual Studio IDE Tips and Tricks which was a really useful session in showing me just how little I knew about the shortcuts available within the Visual Studio IDE. Like many .Net developers, I've been using Visual Studio in one incarnation or another for years now and haven't necessarily spent time familiarising myself with the efficiency updates, new features and new keyboard shortcuts. I found the presentation format quite hard to gather the shortcuts from though and ended up trawling through Sara's blog of tips to get further details on the ones that looked handy (incremental find for instance).

I volunteered to do a session for the developers at Madgex as part of the ILP programme to pass this useful material on, and to encourage myself to find more tips. In preparing the talk (which is tomorrow) I've made a lot of use of a copy of Sara's book Microsoft Visual Studio Tips: 251 Ways to Improve Your Productivity as well as suggestions from the team.

I hadn't got very far into the book before I found myself changing settings in Visual Studio and trying things out - always a good sign. This is definitely a book to have next to you whilst you're sitting at your development machine and not one for general reading as I found some of the tips needed to be tried to make complete sense of them. I've also found myself trying out a lot of them on different environments - Visual Studio 2005, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server Management Studio (which doesn't get a mention in the book, but has quite a lot of tips that just work) to see what works in which scenarios, and which will prove useful to me and how I develop code. I've found the tips to be good-sized nuggets of information, almost all of which cover one scenario in isolation. They are easy to read and follow, and contain good text instructions with screen shots when they are helpful.

I'm not sure how much long term use this book has, I suspect it is one to have in the office shared amongst a group of developers so that everyone can have a browse, pick some efficiencies and pass the book on rather than one to dip into on a regular basis. Despite the fact that the tips from the book are also on her blog, the book makes them a lot more accessible and easier (at least for me) to read and implement. So, in summary, a worthwhile addition to a development library.