JavaScript IntelliSense

IntelliSense helps you write code faster and with fewer errors by providing information while you code. As you work with client script in the JavaScript editor, IntelliSense lists the objects, functions, properties, and parameters that are available based on your current context. You can select a coding option from the pop-up list provided by IntelliSense to complete the code.

IntelliSense makes it easier to complete the following tasks:

  • Find member information.

  • Insert language elements directly into your code.

  • Maintain your context without having to leave the code editor.

  • Support custom IntelliSense with XML documentation comments and JavaScript IntelliSense extensibility.

For information on new JavaScript language service features, see What's New in Visual Studio 2012.

This topic contains the following sections:

  • Determining IntelliSense Context

  • Processing IntelliSense Information

  • JavaScript IntelliSense Features

  • JavaScript IntelliSense Extensibility

  • JavaScript Validation

For more information about the IntelliSense functionality of Visual Studio, see Using IntelliSense.

Determining IntelliSense Context

JavaScript IntelliSense provides coding choices based on all script that is relevant to your current script context. This includes scripting elements in the current file. It also includes any code that is referenced directly or indirectly from your script, such as script file references, assembly script references, service references, and page-associated references.

Your current script context is created based on the following items:

  • Functions that are defined in all script blocks in the active document. Inline script blocks are supported in files that have the file-name extensions .aspx., .ascx, .master, .html, and .htm.

  • script elements with src attributes that point to another script file. The target script file must have the file-name extension .js.

  • JavaScript files that reference other JavaScript files by using a reference directive.

  • Reference groups for global objects, IntelliSense extensions, or delay-loaded script files.

  • References to XML Web services.

  • The ScriptManager and ScriptManagerProxy controls, if the Web application is an ASP.NET AJAX application.

  • The Microsoft Ajax Library, if you are working in an AJAX-enabled ASP.NET Web application.


    IntelliSense is not supported for script that is in event-handler attributes on HTML elements, or that is defined in href attributes.

Processing IntelliSense Information

To provide JavaScript IntelliSense, the language service performs the following operations:

  • Creates a list of dependent JavaScript files that are based on references in the active document, and based on recursively examining script references in the referenced files.

  • Traverses the list and collects type information and other relevant data from each file.

  • Aggregates the data and passes it to the JavaScript language service, which makes the type information and data available to IntelliSense.

  • Monitors the files for changes that might affect the IntelliSense list and updates the list as needed. Scripts on remote stores (such as those referenced using HTTP) do not get monitored.

JavaScript IntelliSense Features

JavaScript IntelliSense supports the following objects:

  • Document Object Model (DOM) elements

  • Intrinsic objects

  • User-defined variables, functions, and objects

  • Objects defined in external files using references such as script references, reference directives, and reference groups.

  • Objects specified in XML documentation comments, such as parameters and fields.

  • Objects described using standard JavaScript comment tags (//). For more information, see Extending JavaScript IntelliSense.

  • Objects supported using the extensibility mechanism. For more information, see Extending JavaScript IntelliSense.

  • ASP.NET AJAX objects

When IntelliSense is unable to determine the type of an object, it provides options for statement completion using identifiers in the active document. For more information, see Statement Completion for Identifiers.

HTML DOM Elements

JavaScript IntelliSense provides programming references for Dynamic HTML (DHTML) DOM elements, such as body, form, and div. Only the elements that are included in the current document and master page are displayed by IntelliSense. JavaScript IntelliSense also supports the window and document objects and their members.

Intrinsic Objects

JavaScript IntelliSense provides programming references for the natively intrinsic objects Array, String, Math, Date, and Number. For more information about intrinsic objects, see Intrinsic Objects (JavaScript).

User-defined Variables, Functions, and Objects

When you change a JavaScript file, Visual Studio scans opened and referenced documents to determine all available code resources. This includes the variables, functions, and objects that you have created. These resources are then available to JavaScript IntelliSense. 

For more information about user-defined variables, functions, and objects, see Creating Your Own Objects on the MSDN Web site.

External File References

You can include various types of external file references to achieve IntelliSense support in your code. External file references may be script references, reference directives, or they can be specified using reference groups.

Script References

Instead of writing all client script in a page, you can reference external files that include scripting code. This makes it easier for you to reuse code between pages, and it enables client script to be cached by the browser.

If you are not working with an ASP.NET AJAX-enabled Web page, you can reference an external script file by using the src attribute in the opening tag of a script element. The src attribute specifies the URL to an external file that contains the source code or data.

The following example shows markup that uses the src attribute in a <script> tag to reference a script file.

<script type="text/javascript" src="~/Scripts/JavaScript.js">

If you are working with an ASP.NET AJAX-enabled Web page, you can reference script files by using the ScriptReference object of the ScriptManager control.

The following example shows markup that uses a ScriptReference object in a ScriptManager control to reference a script file.

<asp:ScriptManager ID="ScriptManager1" runat="server">
    <asp:ScriptReference Path="~/Scripts/JavaScript.js" />

IntelliSense also supports script files that are embedded as resources in an assembly in ASP.NET AJAX Web applications. For more information about embedded script resources, see Walkthrough: Embedding a JavaScript File as a Resource in an Assembly.

Reference Directives

A reference directive enables Visual Studio to establish a relationship between the script you are currently editing and other scripts. The reference directive lets you include a script file in the scripting context of the current script file. This enables IntelliSense to reference externally defined functions, types, and fields as you code. 

You create a reference directive in the form of an XML comment. The directive must be declared earlier in the file than any script. A reference directive can include a disk-based script reference, an assembly-based script reference, a service-based script reference, or a page-based script reference.

The following example shows examples of using disk-based reference directives. In the first example, the language service looks for the file in the same folder that contains the project file (for example, .jsproj).

/// <reference path="ScriptFile1.js" />

/// <reference path="Scripts/ScriptFile2.js" />

/// <reference path="../ScriptFile3.js" />

/// <reference path="~/Scripts/ScriptFile4.js" />

The following example shows how to create a reference to an assembly-based script.

/// <reference name "Ajax.js" assembly="System.Web.Extensions, ..." />

The following example shows how to reference service-based script:

/// <reference path="MyService.asmx" />

/// <reference path="Services/MyService.asmx" />

/// <reference path="../MyService.asmx" />

/// <reference path="~/Services/MyService.asmx" />


JavaScript IntelliSense is not supported for script that is contained in Web service (.asmx) files in Web Application Projects (WAP).

The following example shows how to reference page-based script.

/// <reference path="Default.aspx" />

/// <reference path="Admin/Default.aspx" />

/// <reference path="../Default.aspx" />

/// <reference path="~/Admin/Default.aspx" />

The following rules apply to a reference directive.

  • The reference XML comment must be declared before any script.

  • You must use XML comments syntax with three slashes. References made by using standard comments syntax (two slashes) are ignored.

  • Only one file or resource can be specified per directive.

  • Multiple references to page-based scripts are not allowed.

  • If a page reference is specified, no other type of reference directives is allowed.

  • File names use relative paths. You can use the tilde operator (~) to make application-root-relative paths.

  • Absolute paths are ignored.

  • Reference directives in referenced pages will not be processed—that is, reference directives are not resolved recursively for pages. Only script that is referenced directly by the page is included.

Reference Groups

You can use reference groups to specify that particular IntelliSense .js files are in scope for all your JavaScript projects. Three reference groups are available: Implicit (Windows), Implicit (Web), and dedicated worker reference groups. Implicit (Windows) references are for Windows Store apps using JavaScript, and Implicit (Web) references are for HTML5 projects. Files included in these implicit reference groups are in scope for every .js file opened in the Code Editor.

The dedicated worker reference group is for HTML5 Web Workers. Files specified in this group are in scope for .js files that have an explicit reference to a dedicated worker reference group. Implicit references do not apply to .js files that have an explicit reference to a dedicated worker reference group.

You can use configuration options for the JavaScript Code Editor to specify implicit references. For more information, see Options, Text Editor, JavaScript, IntelliSense.


The IntelliSense references are typically used to provide IntelliSense support for global objects and for IntelliSense extensions. You can also use this feature for scripts that must be loaded at runtime using the script loader.

XML Documentation Comments

XML documentation comments are text descriptions that you add to script. These text descriptions are displayed in IntelliSense when you reference the commented script. For example, you can provide information about a function's parameters and return value. XML documentation comments are available only from referenced files, assemblies, and services. For more information, see XML Documentation Comments (JavaScript) and How to: Create JavaScript XML Documentation Comments.

IntelliSense can display code references for XML comments in the following file-reference scenarios:

  • A .js file that references another .js file.

  • A .js file that references an .aspx file.

  • An .aspx file that references a .js file.

IntelliSense is not available when one .aspx file references another .aspx file.


ASP.NET AJAX also supports JavaScript IntelliSense. ASP.NET AJAX includes a client framework that extends the standard types that are available in ECMAScript (JavaScript). To enable JavaScript IntelliSense to provide details about ASP.NET AJAX objects, XML documentation comments have been added throughout the Microsoft Ajax Library. These XML documentation comments are displayed when you use types and members that are contained in the ASP.NET AJAX Library.


Private members are not displayed by JavaScript IntelliSense. Private members are denoted in ASP.NET AJAX as members that begin with an underscore (_).

JavaScript IntelliSense Extensibility

The JavaScript language service provides objects and functions that enable you to modify the IntelliSense experience for developers who use third-party libraries. These features are especially useful when the default language service isn't able to provide all the information that you want to provide to customers. For more information, see Extending JavaScript IntelliSense.

JavaScript Validation

JavaScript scripting validation occurs constantly in the background. When Visual Studio detects syntax errors in the JavaScript code, feedback is provided in the following ways:

  • Underlined elements in the editor. Wavy red underlines indicate errors. If you hold the mouse pointer over the error, a tooltip displays the error description.

  • Error List window. The Error List window displays the error description, the file where the error occurred, the line and column number, and the project. To display the Error List window, in the View menu, click Error List.

  • The Output window shows references that were not loaded.

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See Also


How to: Create JavaScript XML Documentation Comments


Extending JavaScript IntelliSense

Statement Completion for Identifiers

XML Documentation Comments (JavaScript)

Other Resources

Using IntelliSense

About the DHTML Object Model

List Members

SRC Attribute | src Property