Microsoft helps crack developer problems with Bing-based tool

The Bing Developer Assistant now works with C#, but more languages are on the way

Sometimes, even the best coders get stuck and need a little advice. Enter Bing Developer Assistant, designed to help Visual Studio developers take advantage of Microsoft's search engine to find tips on how to untangle thorny programming problems.

The free tool was released on Tuesday and aims to increase developer productivity by making it easier to find and reuse millions of code samples and projects.

For example, when developers get a compilation error, they can right click on the error and select Bing contextual search from the menu. The search takes into account things such as the error message, project and data types and programming language to try to come up with the most relevant results. If the result isn't helpful, further search refinements can be made.

Up to now, developers had to copy and paste the error message into a search engine and then modify the query on their own in order to take context into account. That's much more time consuming and distracting, Microsoft said in a blog post.

Bing Developer Assistant has also been used to improve Visual Studio's Intellisense feature, which provides context-aware help. While coding, relevant code snippets are automatically displayed. Developers can use the tool from the code editor and make local searches on their own machine when offline, as well.

For now, the tool works with C#, but Microsoft is planning to add other languages, including Javascript and Visual Basic.

To get started, developers can download the necessary add-ons for Visual Studio 2012 or 2013 from the Visual Studio Extension Gallery. A version that's compatible with Visual Studio 2015, which was made available as a preview last month, is coming soon.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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