A Visual Studio Extension in a Weekend

29 May 2013 15:05

I wanted to write a Visual Studio extension (for VS2012) that, when you open a solution, renders and displays Markdown documentation in Visual Studio.

This enables you to include welcome documentation for developers who’ve just joined the project

My aim was to write this in a single weekend. I made a load of notes as I went along, and I’ve just finished writing them up as a series of blog posts, which you will find here.


A VSIX-deployed Visual Studio extension, written in C#. When you open a solution, it will start IIS Express, running a small web application (using Nancy) to render the markdown into HTML. It will open the built-in web browser page in Visual Studio, pointing at this application.

Why IIS Express? Initially, simplicity.

I considered adding a document window in Visual Studio, hosting a WebBrowser control, because this would give me more control over what was rendered, and would allow bi-directional communication between the rendered view and the extension. I decided not to do this, because I only had a weekend, and I don’t have the first idea how to host a custom document window inside Visual Studio.

The blog posts