Creating a Settings Category


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In this walkthrough you create a Visual Studio settings category and use it to save values to and restore values from a settings file. A settings category is a group of related properties that appear as a "custom settings point"; that is, as a check box in the Import and Exports Settings Wizard. (You can find it on the Tools menu.) Settings are saved or restored as a category, and individual settings are not displayed in the wizard. For more information, see Customizing Development Settings in Visual Studio.

You create a settings category by deriving it from the DialogPage class.

To start this walkthrough, you must first complete the first section of Creating an Options Page. The resulting Options property grid lets you examine and change the properties in the category. After you save the property category in a settings file, you examine the file to see how the property values are stored.


Starting in Visual Studio 2015, you do not install the Visual Studio SDK from the download center. It is included as an optional feature in Visual Studio setup. You can also install the VS SDK later on. For more information, see Installing the Visual Studio SDK.

Creating a Settings Category

In this section, you use a custom settings point to save and restore the values of the settings category.

To create a settings category

  1. Complete the Creating an Options Page.

  2. Open the VSPackage.resx file and add these three string resources:

    Name Value
    106 My Category
    107 My Settings
    108 OptionInteger and OptionFloat

    This creates resources that name the category "My Category", the object "My Settings", and the category description "OptionInteger and OptionFloat".


    Of these three, only the category name does not appear in the Import and Export Settings wizard.

  3. In MyToolsOptionsPackage.cs, add a float property named OptionFloat to the OptionPageGrid class, as shown in the following example.

    public class OptionPageGrid : DialogPage  
        private int optionInt = 256;  
        private float optionFloat = 3.14F;  
        [Category("My Options")]  
        [DisplayName("My Integer option")]  
        [Description("My integer option")]  
        public int OptionInteger  
            get { return optionInt; }  
            set { optionInt = value; }  
        [Category("My Options")]  
        [DisplayName("My Float option")]  
        [Description("My float option")]  
        public float OptionFloat  
            get { return optionFloat; }  
            set { optionFloat = value; }  


    The OptionPageGrid category named "My Category" now consists of the two properties, OptionInteger and OptionFloat.

  4. Add a ProvideProfileAttribute to the MyToolsOptionsPackage class and give it the CategoryName "My Category", give it the ObjectName "My Settings", and set isToolsOptionPage to true. Set the categoryResourceID, objectNameResourceID, and DescriptionResourceID to the corresponding string resource IDs created earlier.

        "My Category", "My Settings", 106, 107, isToolsOptionPage:true, DescriptionResourceID = 108)]  
  5. Build the project and start debugging. In the experimental instance you should see that My Grid Page now has both integer and float values.

Examining the Settings File

In this section, you export property category values to a settings file. You examine the file and then import the values back into the property category.

  1. Start the project in debug mode by pressing F5. This starts the experimental instance.

  2. Open the Tools / Options dialog.

  3. In the tree view in the left pane, expand My Category and then click My Grid Page.

  4. Change the value of OptionFloat to 3.1416 and OptionInteger to 12. Click OK.

  5. On the Tools menu, click Import and Export Settings.

    The Import and Export Settings wizard appears.

  6. Make sure Export selected environment settings is selected, and then click Next.

    The Choose Settings to Export page appears.

  7. Click My Settings.

    The Description changes to OptionInteger and OptionFloat.

  8. Make sure that My Settings is the only category that is selected, and then click Next.

    The Name Your Settings File page appears.

  9. Name the new settings file MySettings.vssettings and save it in an appropriate directory. Click Finish.

    The Export Complete page reports that your settings were successfully exported.

  10. On the File menu, point to Open, and then click File. Locate MySettings.vssettings and open it.

    You can find the property category you exported in the following section of the file (your GUIDs will differ).

    <Category name="My Category_My Settings"   
          RegisteredName="My Category_My Settings">  
       <PropertyValue name="OptionFloat">3.1416</PropertyValue>   
       <PropertyValue name="OptionInteger">12</PropertyValue>   

    Notice that the full category name is formed by the addition of an underscore to the category name followed by the object name. OptionFloat and OptionInteger appear in the category, together with their exported values.

  11. Close the settings file without changing it.

  12. On the Tools menu, click Options, expand My Category, click My Grid Page and then change the value of OptionFloat to 1.0 and OptionInteger to 1. Click OK.

  13. On the Tools menu, click Import and Export Settings, select Import selected environment settings, and then click Next.

    The Save Current Settings page appears.

  14. Select No, just import new settings and then click Next.

    The Choose a Collection of Settings to Import page appears.

  15. Select the MySettings.vssettings file in the My Settings node of the tree view. If the file does not appear in the tree view, click Browse and find it. Click Next.

    The Choose Settings to Import dialog box appears.

  16. Make sure that My Settings is selected, and then click Finish. When the Import Complete page appears, click Close.

  17. On the Tools menu, click Options, expand My Category, click My Grid Page and verify that the property category values have been restored.