Implement indexed full-text search of source code, config files, and project files
Visual Studio projects can contain hundreds and even thousands of documents. Searching through these documents using Find-In-Files is slow and error prone. About a decade of academic research strongly suggests that an information retrieval approach to searching source code would be faster and provide better results.
While the Visual Studio team has noticed the need for better search tools, as evidenced by their recent "Search Everywhere" blog (see http://blogs.msdn.com/b/visualstudio/archive/2011/10/11/visual-studio-11-developer-preview-search-everywhere.aspx). Unfortunately, every recently introduced search tool still relies on regular-expressions or simple pattern-matching. To put this in context, the modern IDE uses search technology essentially identical to grep, which was created in 1973. Recent studies, such as "...How Developers Seek, Relate, and Collect Information..." (http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~marmalade/papers/Ko2006SeekRelateCollect.pdf) show this type of search fails upwards of 88% of the time.
This request is to suggest that Visual Studio completely change their default search engine. Instead of relying on a regex search, executed on demand, they should use an information retrieval approach, indexing the code ahead of time and thus providing near-instant search results. Examples of this type of search tool for source code abound. See Sando for Visual Studio, Instasearch for Eclipse, OpenGrok, etc.
Thanks for considering this update. I know it is a major one, but I love Visual Studio and believe that this change could help it remain a cutting edge IDE.
David Shepherd commented
As further evidence of the importance of this feature there are a lot of search extensions popping up on Visual Studio Gallery.
Sando Code Search Tool - http://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/06f39a31-20ce-408c-afee-8a02b484db1c
Entrian Code Search - http://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/e39a6996-ea46-459a-9f1e-9629547868bc
NavigateToAll - http://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/bdbc361a-ee69-4ba3-83ff-ab2e8122ff47