Codist is a Visual Studio extension which strives to provide better coding experience and productivity for C# programmers.
The updated version has implemented pinnable & draggable symbol List, added context menus to Quick Info, a new Markdown Navigation Bar, and several Web Search selected text commands for Smart Bar. Details is listed at: https://github.com/wmjordan/Codist/releases
Advanced C# Syntax Highlight
The advanced syntax highlight function highlights every aspect of C# language elements with diverse styles, including using various font families and text styles, enlarging or shrinking font sizes, changing foreground or background colors and transparency.
Default Syntax Highlight Themes
To quickly get started with advanced syntax highlight, open a C# project, then open the Options dialog, navigate to the Syntax Highlight section, click the Light theme or Dark theme button in the dialog and see changes in effect. Don't forget to click the OK button to confirm the changes.
With the Save and Load buttons, you can backup and share your own syntax highlight settings.
If you mess up your syntax highlight styles, you can press the Reset button to reset all settings to default, or press the Light theme or Dark theme button to reapply predefined themes.
Note: There is a known issue in Codist that if you change the theme of Visual Studio, you may have to restart it to make syntax highlight settings to work properly.
It is possible to load only part of the syntax preset or backup theme by unchecking check boxes under Load following parts when importing themes.
The following screenshots of the
TestPage.cs file in the source code project demonstrates possible syntax highlight effects in the Light theme.
- The font size of type and member declarations can be enlarged, font families are also changeable, so it is much easier to spot them.
- Syntax highlight can be applied to braces and parentheses.
- Various syntax identifiers have different styles, temporary elements such as method parameters and local variables are italic, static symbols are underlined.
- Comment content can be tagged (e.g. note).
- Unnecessary code can be marked strike-through.
- Keywords are categorized and highlighted with various styles (e.g.
- Overriding members (such as
ToString) can be painted with gradient background color, so at a glance we know that the marked implementations have overrided their base classes.
- Imported symbols (from external assemblies, e.g.
ToString) can be marked with a different style (bold here), distinguishing from symbols defined in your code.
- All the above styles are customizable.
Customization of Syntax Highlight Styles
To customize and tweak the syntax highlight styles, click the sub sections inside the Syntax Highlight section to change individual styles, accordingly.
Syntax definitions under the All languages section apply to all languages; those under Comment section apply to comment taggers (see below), others apply to corresponding languages accordingly.
Note: Font size is relative value to editor default font size. Halfly checked checkboxes denote default syntax styles are used.
TIP: Open a document window before you change the syntax theme or tweak the syntax highlight settings. While you change theme, you can see how the styles change in the code document window simultaneously.
My Symbols and External Symbols
Codist can identify symbols which are defined in your source code and which are imported from external assemblies. This feature is so unique that you may not find it elsewhere.
You can customize it in the Symbol Marker tab of in the C# section of Syntax Highlight. Style My Type and Member is used for symbols from your code, and Referenced Type and Member is used for symbols imported from external assemblies.
Note: the predefined Light theme and Dark theme have defined external symbols with bold style, as the above screenshot shows.
The comment tagger highlights comments to your specific styles, according to the first token inside the comment.
Here are default effects of the some tagged comments.
To configure the comment tags, click the Tags tab, in the Comment sub-section of the Syntax Highlight section, where you can add, remove or modify comment tags.
To disable comment tagger, uncheck the check box of Comment Tagger on the Syntax Highlight option page.
The syntax style of comments or C# XML Documentations could be changed too. You can make them semitrasparent to stand behind usual code lines by changing the Opacity or the Font size value of the corresponding syntax parts.
Note: the predefined Light theme and Dark theme have defined XML Doc with a smaller font size (-1), as the above screenshot shows.
Super Quick Info
The quick info (the tooltip shown when you hover your mouse pointer on your C# source code) can be enhanced by Codist.
General Quick Info
To customize the Super Quick Info, adjust the settings in the options page.
Options in the General page apply to all code editor windows.
Hide Quick Info until Shift key is pressed
By default, Quick Info appears when you hover your mouse over a symbol or syntax token in code editor. Some programmers think this behavior interferes their workflow. Checking this option will suppress the Quick Info until Shift key is pressed.
Show info about selection length
This option will show how many characters and lines in your selection (if your selection spans over multiple lines). So you don't have to count characters one by one.
Show info about color
This option enables you preview color values. It works for hex color values (such as
#FF993300), named colors (such as
In C# code editor, it analysis system colors (such as
Color.FromRgb expression with constant values as well.
The color info not only works in code windows, but also in debugger Watch window.
Quick Info item size
From version 5 on, it is possible to limit the size of each Quick Info item, so they won't cover your whole screen. Previously, this feature works in C# editor only.
By default, Codist does not apply size limitations. You must manually set the Max width and Max height here. Extra height can be assigned to C# XML Documentations, so you can read more of them at a glance. If the contents exceed the width, they are wrapped, and scrollbars will appear when necessary, as the screenshot below demonstrates.
C# Quick Info
Super Quick Info especially enhances programming experience for C# programmers. There are plenty of options available in the options page.
Click and go to source code of symbol definition
If a symbol is defined in your source code, you can click and go to its definition on the Quick Info window. No need to hit
F12 on your keyboard any more! Even more, Codist also tells you where the symbol is defined if you hover your mouse over it.
From version 5.2 on, a Context menu with many symbol analysis commands will show up when you right click the signature of the symbol definition or any symbol that appears in the XML Doc.
Override XML Documentation
The overridden XML Documentation makes the following changes to the documentation.
- More syntax colors (adopting syntax highlight colors) for symbols.
- Icons for documetation parts.
- Selectable content of the documentation.
- Copyable quick info content (First select text with your mouse, then press
Ctrl + C shortcut key, or right click to show up a context menu with Copy command).
- Symbols inside the documentation work with Click and Go feature too. i.e. you can click them and go to the source code if available.
- Concise form of members (without leading namespace or containing type names, hover your mouse over a symbol to view its full definition).
- Extra tags, such as
<b> (for bold),
<i> (for italic) and
<u> (for underline) are supported.
- Extra information from documentations (see below).
When Override XML Documentation checkbox is checked in the options page, it is also possible to activate options under it.
Inherit from base type or interfaces option will show documentation description from base
classes or implemeted
interfaces if the XML Doc description of the current symbol is absent.
<inheritdoc cref="MemberName"/> target option will borrow description from the referenced
<returns> XML Doc and Show
<remarks> XML Doc will add content of those tags.
<exception> XML Doc option adds back documentations for exceptions to the Quick Info.
From version 5.2 on, Codist shows XML Doc for those
namespaces with an embedded
NamespaceDoc class, like what is done in SandCastle.
Additional Quick Info Items
A dozen of additional quick info items could be displayed in the Additional Quick Info Items options page.
Attributes option shows attributes of a symbol.
Base types and interfaces options shows inheritance and implementation info of a type. It is recommended to check All ancestor types and Inherited interfaces to display the complete info of the hierarchy of a type.
IDisposable interface has special importance in .NET programming, thus it is assigned a special icon and pinned to the top of the interface list.
Declaration modifier option shows modifiers to a symbol when it is not a public instance one.
Interface implementation option shows if a member implements any interface.
Method overload options shows possible overloads of a method (including applicable extension methods).
This option also helps you find out correct overloads when any argument passed to a method is incorrect.
Parameter of method options shows whether a token or an expression is the parameter of a method in the argument list. What is more, the documentation of the parameter is also displayed.
Type parameter option shows information and documentation about type parameters.
Symbol location shows where a symbol is defined.
Numeric forms shows decimal, hexadecimal and binary forms for constant integer and
The binary form is useful when working with bit flags.
String length and Hash codes for string constants.
(Hint: We can use Hash codes to quickly compare whether two strings that look alike are identical)
Navigation bar locates at the top of the code editor window. It overrides the original navigation bar. When the Navigation Bar is loadeded, it hides two drop-down lists on the original Navigation Bar, but preserves the project drop-down list.
Basically, the Navigation Bar serves the same purpose of the original one, displaying symbol information where the caret is placed.
Note: From version 5.2 on, Navigation Bar not only works with C# code documents, but also Markdown documents.
Typically you can see three or four items on the bar.
- Namespace node: the innermost namespace which contains the caret. On the above screen shot, it is the "
- Type node: the type which contains the caret. On the above screen shot, it is the "
- Region node: when the caret is between
#endregion, this node appears. On the above screen shot, it is the "
Private fields" node.
- Member node: the member where the caret is in. This node is drawn highlighted. On the above screen shot, it is the "
Nodes on the Navigation Bar are clickable.
Clicking on a Namespace node will popup a menu, displaying namespaces and types defined in the active document. You can click on those items and jump to the beginning of corresponding definitions.
From version 5 on, you can drag and drop items in the menu to reorder types within the document.
The number beneath the items indicates number of lines of the current code file.
On top of the menu there is a Search Declaration box, within which you can type and search declarations.
Besides the Search Declaration box, there are three buttons. The first one is pressed by default, which restricts the search scope to active document. If the second one is pressed, it pops up the first button and expands the search scope to current project (see screen shot below). The third button clears the search box and reverts the items back to unfiltered namespaces and types.
Note: From version 5 on, if the first character in the search box is an upper case one, the search will be case-sensitive, otherwise, it is case-insensitive.
Clicking on a Type node will popup a menu, displaying members and regions defined within the type. You can click on those items and jump to the definition of the corresponding member.
From version 5 on, you can drag and drop items in the menu to reorder members, nested types and
#regions within the document. If a
partial type spans over several code files, it is also possible to rearrange members among them.
The number beneath the items indicates number of lines of the current type.
The current symbol where the caret is on is highlighted.
Field values and auto-property expressions are also displayed on this menu. So, you can read the initial value of fields immediately.
There is also a search box in this menu, which filters content of the menu.
Note: From version 5 on, if the first character in the search box is an upper case one, the search will be case-sensitive, otherwise, it is case-insensitive.
There are several buttons beside the search box. Numbers on the buttons counts corrsponding items within the type. Hover your mouse cursor over the button, you can read meanings of them. Pressing down those buttons filters members within the menu to corresponding ones.
From version 5 on, you can right click items on the menu to bring out a context menu for curresponding members.
From version 5.1 on, the right click menu includes symbol analysis commands.
Clicking on a Member node will select the whole member. If you have the Smart Bar feature on and let it appear when selection is changed, Smart Bar will be displayed and let you perform actions onto the member.
The Navigation Bar can be configure via the options page.
If Show syntax detail option is set, the Navigation Bar not only shows available types and declarations in the code window like the original navigation bar, but also syntax nodes such as statements and expressions containing the caret.
If Show symbol info tip option is set, you can read information about a symbol when you hover your mouse onto a node.
If Highlight node range in editor option is set, when you hover the mouse over the node on the bar, corresponding span of the node will be highlighted in the editor.
If Show #region name option is set,
#region names will be displayed on the Navigation Bar. If you pad region names with some non-alphabetic characters like "
#region [====== private methods ======]", you can check the Trim non-letter characters checkbox so only alphabetic part like "
private methods" will be displayed on the Navigation Bar.
To customize drop-down menus of the Navigation Bar, change options in the Drop-down Menu tab.
Markdown Navigation Bar
The Markdown navigation bar introduced in version 5.2 lists all titles appear in a Markdown document.
Similarly, you can type in the search box to filter down the titles.
The Smart Bar is a context-aware tool bar that appears automatically when you select some text, or double tap the Shift key on your keyboard.
There are two toolbars on Smart Bar. The top bar contains general editing commands for all file types. Buttons on the bottom bar changes according to file types.
Buttons on the Smart Bar changes according to your selection, typical buttons are editing operations (e.g. Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, Duplicate, Formatting, Find, etc.), code analysis operations (e.g. Go to defintion, Find references), refactoring operations (e.g. Rename, Extract method, etc.)
Each button on Smart Bar usually has multiple functions. Left clicking, right clicking, Ctrl+clicking and Shift+clicking trigger different commands. For details, see the tooltip for the buttons. Right clicking a button usually expands the effective range of a command to the whole line, or brings out a pop-up menu for more commands.
From version 5.2 on, there are multiple predefined web search commands in the menu when you right click the Find button, which will launch your browser to search the text you select in document window. So, it is handier to look for answers from the web or find code examples in GitHub.
You can specify what browser you prefer to use in the options page.
C# Specific Commands
When you select a symbol, you may probably see a Smart Bar like below.
The C# commands are on the second row.
The first one is Go to Definition, that behaves the same as the keyboard
F12 command. With this, you no longer need hitting the
F12 key to go to definition.
The second one is the Analyze symbol... button, a menu will pop up showing possible symbol analysis commands for the symbol. Since some commands require considerable amount of calculation, items ending with "..." will require a mouse click to expand. For instance, clicking the Find Callers command in the following screen shot will search the source code and list at what places are calling the selected method in a symbol list. In the symbol list, you can filter items like the what you can do in the Navigation Bar, click items on the sub-menu and jump to the corresponding location.
Various commands will be conditionally listed under the Analyze symbol... menu. Here is a list of commmands for an interface.
The Find Members command under Analyze symbol... lists all members defined within a type. For some special types, for instance,
Brushes, etc. The preview is shown on the list.
For Visual Studio extension developers, the preview offers more, for instances, it allows previewing images of
KnownImageIds, colors in
The Find Implementations command for an interface type will display all types that implement that interface. The same command will also appear for interface members, which finds out corresponding members that implement the specific interface member.
When we begin to work with new libraries, we usually have to learn new types and APIs. Two typical senario are that "what methods, properties return specific instance of a type?" and "what methods can an instance of a given type can be passed into?". Thus, Smart Bar provides Find Instance Producer and Find Instance as Parameter for type names. The following screen shot demonstrates the reslt of finding instance producers which returns an instance of
From version 5.2 on, there are two buttons on the top right corner in the result list of symbol analysis commands. The Pin button will keep the list on the screen. And you can use your mouse to drag those lists around.
Symbol marker draws markers for C# symbols.
Typically, you can double click a symbol in the C# source code, select the Mark Symbol command on the Smart Bar and choose the desired highlight marker on the drop-down menu.
After applying the command, all occurrences of the marked symbol will be marked with a different style.
To remove symbol marker, click the Remove symbol mark command in the drop-down menu of the Mark symbol command.
Symbol markers will be cleared when the solution is unloaded.
Note: The style of symbol markers can be customized in options page of the Syntax highlight feature. The default colors are listed below. You also need to turn on the Syntax Highlight feature in order to make this feature work.
Behavior of Smart Bar
By default, Smart Bar appears after selection changes, you can alter the behavior in the options page by unchecking the Show Smart Bar when selection is changed checkbox.
Smart Bar automatically disappears when you move your mouse cursor away from it, or execute a certain commands on the Smart Bar, or click somewhere else in the code editor window, emptying the selection.
To make the Smart Bar reappear, you can tap the
Shift key on your keyboard twice within a second. This behavior can also be suppressed by unchecking the Show/hide Smart Bar with Shift key checkbox.
Smart Bar in Other Windows
Smart Bar also works on Output, C# Interactive, Immediate (Debug), Find Results and some other text selectable window panes. If you select a path within those windows, extra commands will pop up allowing you to open it directly or locate it in Windows Explorer.
From version 4.4 on, some extra buttons will show up on Smart Bar in C/C++ code windows.
Scollbar Marker draws extra glyphs and shapes on the vertical scrollbar for the following syntax elements:
- Line numbers (marked with gray dashed lines and numbers)
- Selection range (marked with semi-trasparent color blocks over the bar)
- Special comments tagged by comment tagger (marked with small squares)
enum declarations (marked with lines indicating their ranges and a square, and their names indicating their declaration locations)
- C# compiler directives, e.g.
#pragma, etc. (marked with a gray spot)
- C# symbol match marker (matches symbol under the caret, marked with an aqua square)
Please see the first screenshot of this article. The markers can be toggled via the options page.
In the Display tab of the General options page, several display enhancement options are offered.
Within the Extra line margins group box, you can adjust margins between lines to make code lines more readable.
Programmers who do not like ClearType rendering, which made text blurry and colorful, may want to try Force Grayscale Text Rendering options.
From version 5 on, it is possible to output a time stamp after each build.
For VSIX developers, there is also an option to automatically increment version number for your VSIX manifest file.
Open the Codist section in the Tools->Options dialog. In the General section you can toggle features of Codist.
Feature controllers contains check boxes which can be used to enable/disable features of Codist.
When you are running on a laptop with battery. Disabling Codist may help it sustain a little bit longer.
Someone who does not like the syntax highlight or use another syntax highlighter can also turn off the Syntax Highlight feature individually here.
These options will take effect on new document windows. Existing document windows won't be affected.
To share or backup your settings of Codist, you can use the Save and Load buttons.
I have learned a lot from the following extension projects (sorted by the dates when I learned from them).
And every donaters, beta testers to this project.
Codist comes from the open source community and it goes back to the community.
Codist is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.
This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.
You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see "https://www.gnu.org/licenses".
Bugs and Suggestions
Please post New Issue in the GitHub project if you find any bug or have any suggestion.
Your vote and feedback on the Visual Studio Extension Marketplace are also welcomed.
Support Codist by Donation
If you like Codist and want to support the future development of it, you can donate to the author.
You can donate any amount of money as you like. The recommended amount of donation is
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