Visual Studio Isolated Shell
The Visual Studio isolated shell allows you to create stand-alone applications that can run side-by-side with other versions of Visual Studio. It is used primarily to host specialized tools that can use Visual Studio services but also have a customized appearance and branding. Visual Studio features and menu command groups can be easily turned on and off. Application titles, application icons, and splash screens are fully customizable. For a list of customizable features, see Customizing the Isolated Shell.
To create an isolated shell application, start with a Visual Studio Shell Isolated project. This project, together with the Visual Studio SDK, contains everything that you need to develop and test your own isolated shell application. When you are ready to write the setup program that deploys your application, you must get the Visual Studio Shell (isolated mode) redistributable package.
For more information about the redistributable package, see the Visual Studio Extensibility Downloads Web site. For more information about how to deploy an isolated shell-based application, see Walkthrough: Creating a Basic Isolated Shell Application.
Working with the isolated shell
A Visual Studio isolated shell application has full access to Visual Studio services and supports special customization and branding. There are several ways you can customize an isolated shell application:
You can use VSPackages and Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) component parts to extend an isolated shell application just as you would use them in any other Visual Studio extension. For more information, see Extending the Isolated Shell.
To make Visual Studio features and menu command groups available or unavailable, update the .vsct file in the user interface (UI) project of the application.
To remove Options pages or other Visual Studio shell components from the application, update the .pkgundef file of the application.
To modify other aspects of the appearance or behavior of the shell, update the .pkgdef file of the application.
Some aspects of the shell can also be specified when the application is started. To do this, update the parameters in the call to the Start entry point of the appenvstub.dll.
For more information about the different elements that you can customize, see Elements of the Isolated Shell.
Standard Features of the Isolated Shell
The following features are standard to all editions of Visual Studio.
Toolbox Control Installer
Task List & Error List
Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) Add Service Reference
Language Integrated Query (LINQ) Support
Code browsing tools (unified find, source definition, inheritance)
Code Snippets Manager
Code Definition Window
Windows Forms Designer
Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) Designer
C# Expression Evaluator
Edit and Continue
Just-in-time (JIT) debugging
Attach to local process
Server Explorer (Simplified - Data Only)
Data bind to local data (.MDF or .MDB)
Data bind to object
Data bind to Web service
Full set of data controls
Data bind to local database server
Data Sources window
Web Forms Designer
Web Site Project
Web Application Project