I ask this to the pros out there - Is it feasible to build a new LOB(Line Of Business) application with VS Shell as an stand alone application.

There are some points that I thought needs to changed, but I'm unaware how, like -

There will be no document. Instead there will be windows with controls where people enter data. There will be no file menu(new,edit). Instead there will be a login box when the application opens(something like the SQL Server Management Studio). There should be floating windows which hosts the control and some kind of window management where these windows can be minimized(obviously inside the shell) These are some of the points which I thought of. Obviously there are many other points which needs to be changed and I ask you to populate the list.

Also please point me out how to start with it, best practices and possibly any other tips which you think should be mentioned.

  • For clarification, are you trying to extend Visual Studio or just use C#/C++/VB.NET and use Visual Studio as an IDE? – Jetti Feb 22 '12 at 17:11
  • If you are asking about building a business app for business users using VS Shell.. Then that seems to me a terrible idea. Please don't! – codingoutloud Feb 23 '12 at 5:28
  • @codingoutloud I just happen to like the docking and floating that comes inbuilt. You wouldn't get that out of box in WinForms do you? And other alternatives are just wannabes, no way near as far as I think. – Soham Dasgupta Mar 16 '12 at 9:10
  • @SohamDasgupta You won't get that out of WinForms because Visual Studio 2010 is built with WPF. So if you use WPF you would be able to duplicate the features you want. – Jetti Mar 16 '12 at 12:35

This question is very broad. Probably too broad, but:

The answer is yes, you can create an MDI Parent window as the main application window and then have a variety of child forms with your different business forms.

Use a main menu on the MDI Parent to access the child forms.

You need to think about whether the application allows more than one instance to be running on one computer at one time. If not, you need to write code to maintain a single instance.

The same is true for your child windows. Is it OK for any one kind of child window to have multiple instances open?

Think about including a standard "Window" menu in your main menu so that your users can access various open windows.

  • This answer applies to GUI programming in general and I don't really feel answers the question of creating an application out of Visual Studio Shell. – Jetti Feb 22 '12 at 13:52
  • @JoelBrown Are there any examples that you can bring to notice? – Soham Dasgupta Mar 16 '12 at 9:06
  • @SohamDasgupta - You could have a look at this MSDN page, it walks you through the process: msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms973874.aspx – Joel Brown Mar 16 '12 at 12:32
  • @JoelBrown I've been doing this for the past 2.5 yrs. I just wanted specifically to copy the interface of VS. – Soham Dasgupta Mar 17 '12 at 4:29

Holy hell! Why on earth would you even want to do that? That is extending the VS Shell to something that it wasn't meant to be done with which means two things:

1.) You may run into quite a few snags

2.) You will probably find very little support out there when you do run into snags because I've never heard anybody doing this.

It could, feasibly, be done using Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) but it would be at least 10x more work than just creating a WPF application.

  • 2
    I believe you are misinterpreting the question. I don't believe OP is suggesting extending VS to build a LOB app. I believe they are asking about building a LOB app using VS. As you've pointed out, doing what you think the OP is asking about is so ridiculous that it is much more reasonable to assume that OP has a shakey grasp of English rather than a shakey grasp on reality. – Joel Brown Feb 22 '12 at 16:37
  • @JoelBrown One would stand to reason that, however, the OP specifically mentioned Isolated Shell. – Jetti Feb 22 '12 at 17:10
  • if that's really what OP is thinking, then it just begs the question: "Why would you want to do that?" Maybe they believe that Isolated Shell would be some kind of fast track to an app shell? Either way, a WinForms or WPF application would obviously be a much better path. – Joel Brown Feb 22 '12 at 17:20
  • @JoelBrown it could make sense in certain situations, however I would think that 99.9% of LOB apps would not fit that criteria. – Jetti Feb 22 '12 at 17:22

Technically, yes you very much could do LOB apps with Visual Studio shell, however the shell is probably over kill for your standard LOB apps. If what you like is the docking, moving windows around etc, you could try the Avalon Dock control available for WPF, which will give you very similar functionality, and in my experience has been simple to use, and works with a basic WPF application.

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