Roaming Extensions? Yeah!

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I've been blogging about Visual Studio Extensions here for about, well, forever. During that time I've found a few that I can't live without. A few that I always have to find and install again, and again on every new dev machine.

Visual Studio 2013 introduced roaming settings (Synchronized Settings in Visual Studio) and immediately extension addicts asked when we'd get something like this for extensions.

It took a while and a new Visual Studio version, but last week the Visual Studio Platform Team released...

Roaming Extension Manager

Allows users to roam and download Visual Studio extensions across machines

The Roaming Extension Manager helps you keep track of all your favorite extensions across all of your development environments. Roaming your extensions keeps track of the extensions you have installed by creating a synchronized list in the cloud.


When you sign into Visual Studio, you can quickly see a list of your extensions by going to Tools, Extensions and Updates, and clicking Roaming Extension Manager. It tracks which extensions you have installed and lets you choose which ones to are added to your Roaming list. With more cool extensions appearing in the gallery every day, this tool makes it quick and easy to set up each dev environment with your favorite extensions.

Using the tool you will notice 3 icon types:

  • Generic Episode Image Roamed Icon: denotes an extension that is part of your Roaming List, but not installed on this machine. You can install these via the “Download” button.
  • Generic Episode Image Roamed & Installed Icon: denotes all extensions that are part of your Roaming List and installed in this environment. If you decide you do not want to roam, you can remove these via the “Stop Roaming” button.
  • Generic Episode Image Installed Icon: denotes all extensions that are installed in this environment, but are not part of your Roaming List. Can be added to roaming list via the “Start Roaming” button.

These icons will show you the current status of your list. You can have any extension in any state, so customize to your heart’s content! Or let us do it for you! Any extension downloaded while you are signed will be added to your list as  Roamed & Installed and will therefore be part of your Roaming list giving you access to it from any machine

Roaming Extension Manager: Control and Consistency down to the last Extension

[UPDATED 7/31] On 7/31 we released an update to the extension. This update includes notifications for extensions, and a change in the UI where the status icons (installed / roaming) are on the left.

[Original Post]

On July 28th, we released Roaming Extension Manager, an extension that will help you better manage your Visual Studio extensions across multiple machines. Hold the applause! For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Roaming Extension Manager “roams” your list of extensions, so now when you are setting up a new development environment or simply trying to push a few extensions from one machine to another, you don’t have to remember the names of the extensions or take screen shots. Instead, we provide you with a list displaying all of your extensions installed across all of your environments and allow you to download directly from that list.

How does this actually work? We create a cloud based Roaming List that tracks the extensions you have installed across all of your Visual Studio development environments looking just like this:


Autonomy without loss of control

While developing this tool we focused on creating an extension that provides you with not only autonomy, but also the ability to fully self-manage your extensions as needed.

From our earlier conversations with you, we learned that it’s best to automatically set all downloaded extensions to roam by default. That is, any extension that you download while signed in will automatically be added to your Roaming List as Roamed-Installed (Icon indicating that the extension is installed on this machine and is roamed to other machines). If you download an extension when not signed into the IDE, on your next sign in we will add these extensions to your Roaming List.

At this point you can just sit back and let us handle the rest. When you want to add an already installed extension onto another machine, just go to the Roaming Extension Manager to download your extension. ...


Not on the Gallery, Not a Problem

We have you covered in the case when you have created your own extension or are using an extension not currently available on the gallery. Any such extensions will also be roamed for you, with the caveat that the Roaming Extension Manager cannot download them for you. What you will see instead is a name and description of the extension, so you can easily search for it and install it.


[Update] Notifications

On July 31st, we released a new update for the Roaming Extensions Manager featuring: Notifications. When you start Visual Studio, if we notice that you have installed an extension on another machine, but do not yet have it installed on this machine we will let you know via the Notification Hub. Additionally, we will notify you when there are any updates for the extensions you have installed. This way you can easily keep your extensions consistent and current across all your machines!

Moving Forward

If you have any bugs, possible improvements, or additional functionality you would like to see in the extension let us know by adding suggestions on UserVoice, visit us on Stack Overflow with tag “visual-studio-extensions”, or leave a comment below.




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