I suggest you ...

Allow 3rd party Extensions (vsix) in Visual Studio Express editions

As a developer of a commercial extension for Visual Studio, I was (and still am, at some level) against supporting non-paying customers.

However, over the years I came to realize that you get more flies with honey, and I now believe Microsoft should allow installing Visual Studio Extensions (vsix) in Express editions.

People use Express editions for different reason - some won't pay for their development tools out of spite, others just can't afford the next (basic) SKU, or an MSDN subscription.

Yet there are many people who create and maintain free and open source extensions for Visual Studio. While users of Express editions will almost certainly wouldn't purchase a license for a commercial extension like ReSharper, a kid learning F# at school shouldn't be prevented from installing F# PowerTools, if they wanted to.

By lowering the barrier to entry, Microsoft will appeal to enthusiasts, and will attract more people to build upon the platform, including Roslyn.

Please vote for this issue, so that the "new" Microsoft will reconsider its stance on the issue.

991 votes
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Igal Tabachnik shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

As of Nov 2014, you can now use VS Community 2013 for this: https://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/products/visual-studio-community-vs. VS Community is a free, extensible edition of Visual Studio which you can use to develop for multiple platforms. It works with any of the available extensions in the VS Gallery: https://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/.

Megan – Visual Studio team


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  • HarryAnnoyed commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Thats all fine, but VS Community can not be used in businessses, so it is completely useless in that context.

  • Ryan Pavlik commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Forget about "enterprise" - the limitations on revenue mean that most small businesses can't even use Community unless their software is all open source. My current work habits are thus to have different themes in Express and Community, so I can be sure to use the Express edition for software that isn't open source yet. If VS2015 comes out with no Express edition (particularly since they dropped the compilers from the Windows SDK), I'll be out of luck.

  • Micky Duncan commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    @Szymon Sasin "single dev and non-enterprise up to 5 developers is free to use" - Tell me how is "single dev" useful in a commercial enterprise of 1000 employees. Get your facts straight

  • Micky Duncan commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Don't close it because Community can't be used commercially only "in a classroom learning environment, for academic research, or for contributing to open source projects"

  • Caleb Jenkins commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    This request can now be closed: as stated already, Visual Studio Community Edition solves this issue. (yay!)

  • Blair Murri commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    This reportedly works (via the WiX toolset installer) with the new Visual Studio Community 2013.

  • EShy commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Yay! Visual Studio Community answers this one... And one VS instead of all the different express editions

  • Alan Bates commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I understand Microsoft's motivations (at least their publicly acknowledged ones) and I am *mostly* fine with the Express versions of the IDE not having the ability to install extensions. I personally have an Ultimate MSDN license, but I work on a team with a fairly eclectic skillset and they bring in their fairly eclectic toolchain.

    I would really like to unify the entire team on Visual Studio, but something as mundane as the Text Editor in the Express edition is beyond laughable. I cannot recommend team members to switch over from Sublime Text when they can't even install the MultiEditing extension that allows multiple cursors. Even the Macro IDE has been taken away so I can't even go create something as basic as the "LocateFileInSolutionExplorer" command.

    I agree that Microsoft should have full control over whether extension suites such as ReSharper, VSCommands, ProductivityPowerTools should be allowed on the Express SKUs, but the Multi cursor? Seriously!?!?

    I think there should at least be a better whitelist of extensions allowed in the Express SKUs. Node Tools for Visual Studio is an approved extension...but you expect to bring Node developers into the fold with a clunky code editor?

    The all-powerful IDE can't even have a decent text editor?
    The lack of basic features (even though I agree it has quite a few very nice advanced capabilities) I can't get the team to unify on Visual Studio so I can't get the pull to build something useful so that I can cost justify MSDN licenses.

    Although the time to market on any update wouldn't help me in my current situation, I think the troubles that this issue causes might at least be worthwhile to share. The crippleware Express Edition is costing Microsoft money in this particular case because I'm trying to get an open source shop to unify on the Microsoft stack. I have to be able to demonstrate that this team can build something useful to the business before I can present justification for an $18k acquisition order for MSDN licenses.

  • Alfonso Garcia-Caro commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    F# PowerTools fills a gap between C# and F# support in Visual Studio, so at least it should deserve special dispensation, like Web Essentials in VS Express for Web.

  • Ryan Riley commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I think it is possible users would be willing to pay $50-$100 for an Express-like SKU with extensions unlocked. This would provide a VS on par with IDEs like WebStorm.

  • Ryan Riley commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I am sure everyone has their pet extension. Mine is VsVim. For me, Express might as well not exist without that plugin.

  • edfagsdfhtdhgrs commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    As I know, there is a free non-express bare edition of VS, which you can transform into an IDE what you like installing extensions.

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