Introducing Visual Studio Achievements - Bringing Some Game To The Code

22. January 2012 13:19

API Microsoft Visual Studio 

Another awesome stuff for developers from Microsoft! This past Wednesday Microsoftie Karsten Januszewski announced the Visual Studio Achievement Beta at Channel9. Guess what? as a developer, you are writing hundred lines of code every day without even getting noticed by the community!!? Well, you will get noticed now. Here is an extract from the official post from Channel9:

Bring Some Game To Your Code!

A software engineer's glory so often goes unnoticed. Attention seems to come either when there are bugs or when the final project ships. But rarely is a developer appreciated for all the nuances and subtleties of a piece of code--and all the heroics it took to write it. With Visual Studio Achievements Beta, your talents are recognized as you perform various coding feats, unlock achievements and earn badges.

Learn More About Visual Studio

Visual Studio is a powerful tool with tons of features, many of which you may not know about. Earning some of the badges may result in learning about features you didn’t even know existed!

How It Works

With the Visual Studio Achievements Extension, achievements are unlocked based on your activity. Your code is analyzed on a background thread each time you compile. In addition, the extension listens for certain events and actions that you may perform in Visual Studio, reporting progress on these events to the server.

Get the Visual Studio Extension

Download the Visual Studio Achievement Extension from Visual Studio Gallery. Install the extension and fire Visual Studio, sign in with your LiveID and straight away you will achieve 5 points for installing Visual Studio Achievement Extension. Every time you achieve, a pop-up in will be shown inside Visual Studio IDE.

Show off your achievements

Now you are earning some achievements huh!? Why not show it off on your blog. Grab the script to show off your Visual Studio Achievements. You can see my achievements widget on the right hand side of my blog. Just in case you don't like the widget, then you can customize the look and feel using CSS and providing additional parameters. You can see more widget examples here and customize it as you like. Apart from this you can also see the leading achievers at the Leaderboard.

The Achievement API

Introducing the Achievement and that too with API is super awesome. I haven't gone through the Achievement API yet, but if you are planning to write a custom tool then mash it up and share with the community.

Visual Studio Achievements Legend

So, what are the achievements that we are going to get? There are 6 different badges at the moment and we are going to see more badges in future. Here is a snap of the 6 badges:

Need to know more in detail about these badges then read about them here. Let's get started people, bring some game to the code you write from now on!!

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Top Visual Studio Extensions

18. January 2012 04:00

Microsoft Utils Visual Studio 

Visual Studio comes up with loads of stuff making everyday life of a developer easy. But there are few extensions which Microsoft and other developers have created and are available for free to the community members. I have compiled a list of free and powerful extensions which will take your programming experience few more steps ahead with Visual Studio.

NuGet Package Manager

You should have a very good reason if you are not using this or if you are not aware what NuGet is. NuGet is a free, open source developer focused package management system for the .NET platform intent on simplifying the process of incorporating third party libraries into a .NET application during development.

Visual Studio Achievement Extension

Get noticed, earn achievements while you write code. An awesome extension from Microsoft for programmers to get them in light while they right code. Bring on the game to the code!!

Productivity Power Tools

A powerfull extension from Microsoft with tons of features to make your work a lot easier. A MUST HAVE for every developer.

VSCommands 2010

VSCommands provides code navigation and generation improvements which will make your everyday coding tasks blazing fast and, together with tens of essential IDE enhancements, it will take your productivity to another level.

PowerCommands For Visual Studio 2010

PowerCommands 10.0 is a set of useful extensions for the Visual Studio 2010 adding additional functionality to various areas of the IDE.

Web Essentials

You must have witnessed most of the features provided by this extension in VS 2011 Developer Preview. For Visual Studio 2010, you can make use of these features with this extensions.


This extension provides outlining and matching braces highlighting features for Visual Studio JavaScript and CSS editor. Works both in JS/CSS files and HTML script/style blocks. Outlining is like in C# editor. It outlines {}s, []s and #region tags.


Microsoft has now introduced feature in Visual Studio 2011 Developer Preview, it is a color picker stuff in the CSS window for the ease of the developers so they don't have to remember the color codes. But for Visual Studio 2010 developers this is an excellent extension that gives you a similar flexibilty.

CSSCop - FxCop for Stylesheets

We use FxCop to follow beat coding practices, but we neglect when we work with CSS. CSSCop makes it easy to adhere to best practices for writing stylesheets. It catches common errors that affect browser compatibility and much more. You can think of it as FxCop for stylesheets.

FxCop Integrator

If you are analysing your code using FxCop, then get the FxCop extension for Visual Studio. FxCop is also available if you are using VS 11 Developer Preview. 

Image Optimizer

Adds a right-click menu to any folder and image in Solution Explorer that let's you automatically optimize all PNG, GIF and JPEG files in that folder. The optimization doesn't affect the quality of the images, but optimizes them using industry proven algorithms for removing EXIF and other metadata.

Code Compare

Code Compare is a powerful file and folder comparison tool that demonstrates new level of code comparison.

Spell Checker

The next time you comment on your code or someone else code, be sure that you are using the correct spellings. Plain text files, source code comments and strings and thing that are not HTML/ASP tags are spell checked.


A great extension which will automatically generates XML documentation comments for methods and properties based on their type, parameters, name and other contectual information.

Numbered Bookmarks

Creating bookmarks in Visual Studio and then remembering them is a tough task when you have thousands lines of code. Numbered Bookmarks allows users to create and recall bookmarks by using numbers. User can create 10 bookmarks (starting from 0 to 9). User can add or navigate to the particular bookmark by using the same shortcut key.

Snippet Designer

The Snippet Designer is an open source plugin which enhances the Visual Studio IDE to allow a richer and more productive code snippet experience.

For the moment, this is it, but I will update the list once I get to know more excellent extensions. Are you aware of any other extensions you think is really cool and excellent, then please do share with me/us.

Currently rated 3.0 by 2 people

SocialCounter.NET - .NET Library To Get Social Stats

4. January 2012 14:32

API C# Projects Web 

Few months back I have shared a code snippet on my blog which will get Twitter followers count, Facebook page like counts and Feed readers count. Now I have release a complete set of functions including Google plus counts, Facebook friends count and there will be more to come as I explore more.

You can read in more detail about the library here.

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HTML 5: Show Your Support / Tell The World

3. December 2011 12:29


If you really love working with HTML5 the this is then time to show some support for HTML5. Use the HTML5 badge builder to create a badge and use it on your blog/website to show your support. The badge builder allows you to customize the badge with tech you use with HTML5. You can see the badge I customized with the tech under badge section on the right.

The site for HTML5 has to offer more than just a badge. You can download HTML5 Logos, stickers, T-shirts, jacket, grey hoodie and beanie to show your love or I must say more precisely show off your HTML5 love. The HTML5 T-shirts are awesome and worth buying if you want to show off. Take a look at HTML5 Logo T-Shirts and buy one if you really like HTML5 and yes if you want to show off and make other jealous.

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Get Song Lyrics From LYRDB With ASP.NET MVC And JQuery

26. November 2011 14:59


Most of the times I have seen people looking for song lyrics on online MP3 or lyrics database sites. Few of them provide API to fetch lyrics which is good for developers. has a powerful API but they don't provide any API call to fetch lyrics. The two most popular APIs on the web that I am aware of is WikiLyrics, LyricsDB (popularly known as LyrDB), there is another API from ChartLyrics but I don't find it as useful as the other two APIs. The WikiLyrics API works beautifully, but it has one drawback the lyrics fetched from the service is incomplete. I wrote a complete desktop application to fetch lyrics, album art, artist image, album name and album release date but never made it available to download for public. I am planning to release it to general users. But till then you can take a look at this simple little app which I created in my spare time to fetch lyrics from LyrDB.

This little simple application is in ASP.NET MVC. I am not a designer so I will take advantage of the default design. In the home controller I have a simple method named GetLyrics which accepts two parameters Artist Name and Song Name. The method returns results in JSON as it will be good for me to parse the results in JQuery. Take a look at the code:

public ActionResult GetLyrics(string ArtistName, string SongName)
            string response = string.Empty;
            string LyrURL = string.Empty;
            string url = "" + ArtistName + "|" + SongName + "&for=match";
            WebResponse wResp = (WebRequest.Create(url) as HttpWebRequest).GetResponse();
            using (StreamReader sReader = new StreamReader(wResp.GetResponseStream()))
                response = sReader.ReadToEnd();

            if (response == "")
                response = "No Lyrics found on LyrDB for " + SongName + " by " + ArtistName;
                goto Output;

            string[] lyrID = response.Split('\\');

            response = "";

            LyrURL = "" + lyrID[0]+"&callback=?";


            return Json(new
                success = true,
                Lyrics = LyrURL
The above code does not return the lyrics but the URL to get the lyrics. I am a big Jquery fan and as usual I will be using it here to make an AJAX call and load an IFRAME with the lyrics URL.
$(document).ready(function () {
        $("#btnSearch").click(function () {
            $("#btnSearch").attr('disabled', true);
            $("#LyrFrame").attr('src', '');
            var Artist = $("#txtArtistName").val();
            var Song = $("#txtSongName").val();
            var url = "/Home/GetLyrics?ArtistName=" + Artist + "&SongName=" + Song;
                url: url,
                type: "POST",
                dataType: "json",
                data: "{'ArtistName': " + Artist + ",'SongName': " + Song + "}",
                success: function (data) {
                    $("#lyrics").html("<iframe id=\"LyrFrame\" src=\"" + data.Lyrics + "\" marginwidth=\"0\" marginheight=\"0\" frameborder=\"0\" vspace=\"0\" hspace=\"0\" width=\"980\" height=\"750\"></iframe>");
                    $("#btnSearch").attr('disabled', false);


The URL in the above script calls GetLyrics method which is inside Home Controller takes artist and song name as query string. On the success of the call the IFRAME gets loaded with the lyrics URL. The output will look something like this:


You can download the application source code from the below link, but I want to tell you that it will not fetch each and every song lyrics for you. It's a database and it can provide us only information it has. But the desktop application I am will release in future will check around 2 lyrics API at least and I believe that my application guarantees 100% result. So follow my upcoming posts.

Download: (886.46 kb)

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