Bing Developer Assistant Released

Today we're releasing the RTM version of Bing Developer Assistant for Visual Studio. To get started, download Bing Developer Assistant for Visual Studio 2013 or Bing Developer Assistant for Visual Studio 2012 from the Visual Studio Extension Gallery. This extension provides smart, contextual help to solve everyday dev problems like searching for projects, code samples and resolving code errors, all from within the Visual Studio IDE.

You can also watch this channel 9 video, which talks in detail about what’s new in Bing Developer Assistant (a.k.a BDA).

This new BDA (formerly Bing Code Search) includes everything from our August Beta release plus lots of new features and improvements we developed based on the feedback you provided.

Some key highlights of this release include the following:

Larger Pool of Code Samples

We improved our algorithm for extraction and ranking code samples from MSDN and stack overflow, which in turn increased the corpus to almost 19 million code samples: double the code sample collection in our first release – and you can do it entirely from within Visual Studio IDE!

Introducing Contextual Compiler Error Assistant

Today, when you get a compilation error you don’t recognize, you typically copy/paste the error message into the search engine of choice outside of Visual Studio. Additionally, you often manually modify the query to include all the relevant context like Visual Studio version, .NET version, project type, and language. All this work takes you out of your code and into the chaos of search results.

Now, when you get a compilation error, you can simply right click on the error and select Bing Contextual Search from the menu. The new Compile Error Assistant gathers the error information and all the relevant context to find the best potential solutions from the web using the power of contextual Bing search.

Below are the results, which will help you in resolving errors.

And now let me explain how it works:

When the user clicks on Bing Contextual help in the error dialog inside Visual Studio, the BDA client will extract context (e.g. error codes/message, project type, data types etc.). The BDA then abstracts and sends the context to the BDA service. The BDA Feature extraction component in the service will extract relevant features from the context, which the Query engine will use to fire multiple contextual Bing queries. Bing then analyzes and ranks these results for these different queries based on relevance with the given user context and then sends the re-ranked results to the BDA Client, which renders them (currently in the form of an IE window).

Introducing Contextual Code Help

You can learn about a class or method or comments in your code by using Bing Contextual Search, which is now available within the code editor. You can select some text in the code editor, right-click and issue a Bing Contextual Search. The BDA automatically gathers the selected text, your project type, language, etc to do a smart Bing search.

Intellisense Code Search Faster, Resizeable

We made the following improvements in the new Intellisense API code search experience:

You can now resize the Intellisense window, allowing you to view more information in the Intellisense window.

We also improved the code snippet search performance through client-side caching. After a code snippet is cached, the BDA still looks for new code snippets every 5 days, so your content will still be fresh. You can configure the cache location in Tools > Options > Bing Developer Assistant > Cache Configuration.

If you have tried out Visual Studio 2015, you may have noticed that the updated error list also has Bing-powered enhanced assistance built in for compile errors. As a Dev Labs extension, BDA has more advanced capabilities including contextual search for compile errors and code snippet and samples search and many more to come.

As you use the BDA, we will look for your feedback on the various search areas that you would like to see included, and that feedback will help us shape both future releases of BDA and the main Visual Studio product. As usual, our main avenue of feedback is

On behalf of everyone contributing to Bing Developer Assistant, including people from Bing, MSR, Microsoft Support and Visual Studio, we hope you enjoy this release.

- Shabbar Husain, Program Manager in Bing Experiences Team

Shabbar has been working with Microsoft for 11 years and during this time has worked on different technologies like J#, .NET Compact framework, Silverlight, and is currently in Bing. He is passionate about contextual and personalized user help and is currently focused on Integrating Bing in Visual Studio into every aspect of the development lifecycle.