I subscribe to a number of development blogs and articles, and I have been meaning to play around with the new Visual Studio extension that got announced at Build 2017 for a while now. What better time to use it than when I am about to complete the transition from “proof of concept” to fully fledged Universal Windows Store application?
Installing the Windows Template Studio Extension
Microsoft has made it super simple for anyone with Visual Studio to install this new extension. If you have Visual Studio 2017 (I have not personally tried it on an earlier version of Visual Studio), navigate to Tools – Extensions and Updates…
Once the new Extensions and Updates window appears, on the left hand side navigation pane select Online and then Visual Studio Marketplace. On the top right hand side there is a search bar, enter “windows template studio” and press the Enter key on the keyboard. You should see Windows Template Studio now appear in the list of tools and extensions. Click Install after selecting the Windows Template Studio extension; to start and complete the installation you will need to close Visual Studio.
After the installation process completes and you restart Visual Studio, you should see the extension Windows Template Studio with a green check mark. A screenshot of a successfully installed extension/tool is shown below.
Using the Windows Template Studio Extension
With the installation complete we can start using the new extension. I was super excited to see first hand how the extension could simplify the process of creating a new UWP application. If you haven’t opened Visual Studio, open the application. Create a new Project (default shortcut key is Ctrl + Shift + N). Open the Windows Universal Visual C# Template on the left hand side pane and select Windows Template Studio. Fill in your solution/project details as you see fit and click Ok.
The Windows Template Studio wizard will launch and right off the bat it offers some templates and frameworks to get you started on the right foot; a good first sign. First you get to choose a Project Type; and you get three options (I guess the options they give are ones that most developers will use when developing their apps). You also get to choose a Framework, one of which is based on a third party; it looks like Microsoft isn’t playing any favourites here and is offering what they feel is best for developers (this goes to show how much Microsoft has changed and how much they really care about developers). Click Next once you have chosen a Project Type and Framework.
If you have never developed for the Universal Windows Platform then already having a Project Type and Framework setup for you makes things much easier for you in the future. But now is where the true customization and helpfulness really begins; in this part of the wizard you get to add the Pages and Features you want to your application. To make the next couple of choices easier for you, it would be beneficial if you nailed down how you would want your application to look and how many Pages you want (but you could always manually add more at a later date).
You first get to add Pages to your application. I found this part of the wizard extremely useful as it provides some common Page Types such as Settings, Map, etc. A bonus is that you can add as many as you want 🙂
Microsoft went above and beyond for the Features part I believe, kudos Microsoft. You get a plethora of Features to choose for your project. They are some of the most common when working on your application such as a First Run Prompt, Live Tiles, and Suspend and Resume. I really appreciate how Microsoft broke them all down them into easily recognizable Features, and on top of that if you are not sure what the Features do, there is a little information button you can click to learn more. Once you have selected all the Features you want click the Create button
If you look in your Solution Explorer, you will find all the Pages and Features that you selected ready for you to work on, just like magic. It could not be any simpler. If you want to start developing for the Windows platform and you choose UWP, then it would be foolish to not use this extension. It is easy to use, offers all the basics and groundwork to get started quickly. When I start working on any new UWP project, I’ll be using this extension going forward unless I can add all the necessary features faster myself (but most likely not). Overall I am very impressed with the options that you could choose to quick start your development.