Extending Blend for Visual Studio 2013

So, I got a comment yesterday on my post about Extending Blend 4 and Blend for Visual Studio 2012 asking if I knew how to get it working for Blend for Visual Studio 2013..

My initial thoughts were, just change the location to get the blend dlls from Visual Studio 11.0 to 12.0 and you’re all set, so I went to do that, only to discover that the dlls I normally reference, well – they don’t exist. So… I’ve made a presumption that the actual process of using MEF etc is still the same. I was wrong.

So, the route to discovery – required DotPeek and opening a few of blends dlls..

Browsing through the Blend install directory (./Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0/Blend/) I notice the .addin files:

image

So I decide to peek into the SketchFlow dll, then promptly remember SketchFlow is quite a big thing, and hunting through there is not ideal, luckily there is another dll using an .addin file, ‘Microsoft.Expression.Importers.Host’, so we’ll go for that instead.

image

We can see it’s still using the ‘IPackage’ formula, but where is that sucker? Well, we just press F12 on the ‘IPackage’ bit and DotPeek takes us there, with a very handy comment at the top:

// Type: Microsoft.Expression.Framework.IPackage
// Assembly: Microsoft.Expression.Framework, Version=12.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a
// MVID: E092EA54-4941-463C-BD74-283FD36478E2
// Assembly location: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0\Blend\Microsoft.Expression.Framework.dll

Now we know where the IPackage interface is defined, so let’s just try writing a control.

Last time I did a separate dll for the control, this time I’m not, but it still works if you want to do it that way.

Let’s build a control!

STEP 1

Create a new WPF application

image

Naming doesn’t matter any more! I have gone with ‘Hello2013’ (see what I did there?)

STEP 2

Delete:

  • App.Config
  • App.xaml
  • MainWindow.xaml

We won’t be needing them

STEP 3

Change your application to be a Class Library instead.

image

(You might also want to delete the ‘vshost’ stuff in your output directory now, as they only exist for hosting the WPF app, and just cause clutter)

STEP 4

Add a reference to the ‘Microsoft.Expression.Framework.dll’ (which you can find in ‘C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0\Blend’ – that’s Program Files (x86) if you’re on an x64 machine!).

STEP 5

Add a User Control, I’m going with ‘Hello2013Control’, and following from last time, it’s just a TextBlock in a Grid:

<UserControl x:Class="Hello2013.Hello2013Control"
             xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation"
             xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml"
             xmlns:mc="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/markup-compatibility/2006" 
             xmlns:d="http://schemas.microsoft.com/expression/blend/2008" 
             mc:Ignorable="d" 
             d:DesignHeight="300" d:DesignWidth="300">
    <Grid>
            <TextBlock>Hello Blend for VS 2013</TextBlock>
    </Grid>
</UserControl>

STEP 6

Add a class to load the package – I’ve called it – yes you guessed – Hello2013Package, which will look like this:

namespace Hello2013
{
    using Microsoft.Expression.Framework;
    using Microsoft.Expression.Framework.UserInterface;

    public class Hello2013Package : IPackage
    {
        private Hello2013Control _hello2013Control;
        private IWindowService _windowService;

        public void Load(IServices services)
        {
            _windowService = services.GetService<IWindowService>();
            Initialize();
        }

        private void Initialize()
        {
            _hello2013Control = new Hello2013Control();
            if (_windowService.PaletteRegistry["HelloPanel"] == null)
                _windowService.RegisterPalette("HelloPanel", _hello2013Control, "Hello Window");
        }
        
        public void Unload(){}
    }
}

You might note that compared to the 2012 version we’re no longer [Exporting(typeof(IPackage))]. The file you create in STEP 7 covers this for us.

STEP 7

Add a new file called: ‘<PROJECT_OUTPUT_NAME>.addin’ – in reality you can call it anything and it’ll still read it in just fine, it’s just nicer if it all matches up, so I have ‘Hello2013.addin’. Content wise, we need to have:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<AddIn AssemblyFile="Hello2013.dll" />
obviously, replacing ‘Hello2013.dll’ with whatever your dll is called.

STEP 8

We set the ‘addin’ file to be copied to the output directory:

image

STEP 9

Build!

STEP 10

Go to your output directory (./bin/debug) and copy the 3 files (Hello2013.dll, Hello2013.pdb, Hello2013.addin) and then paste into the ‘Addins’ folder in your Blend directory (C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0\Blend\Addins)

STEP 11

Start Blend for Visual Studio 2013

STEP 12

Go to the ‘Window’ menu and select ‘Hello Window’

image

STEP 13

Marvel at your new control!

image

Feel free to email me / comment with any problems!

Print | posted @ Friday, November 1, 2013 9:09 AM

Comments on this entry:

Gravatar # re: Extending Blend for Visual Studio 2013
by Friedhelm at 11/4/2013 4:07 PM

Hi Chris,
you have a done a great Job. I was very surprised as I read the news this morning.
My Extension also runs on Blend for VS 2013!
Thank you very much!!!

Friedhelm, Germany
Gravatar # re: Extending Blend for Visual Studio 2013
by Chris at 11/4/2013 4:51 PM

Glad it all works and helped!
Gravatar # re: Extending Blend for Visual Studio 2013
by Friedhelm at 1/14/2015 1:10 PM

Hi Chris,
some weeks ago, I installed the Visual Studio 2015 Preview to see what's new. There again the old Blend extension/addon-stuff will not run. Do you have some Information about this?
Best regards Friedhelm
Gravatar # re: Extending Blend for Visual Studio 2013
by Chris at 1/15/2015 9:26 AM

Hi Friedhelm,

None at present, it looks like they've combined Blend into VS properly now, so the namespaces and files are all over the place. I'm having a look into it now...

Cheers

Chris
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