Microsoft is working on a new extensibility model for its signature Visual Studio IDE, with the goals of improving the reliability of extensions and making them easier to write. Extensions are to be supported locally and in the cloud as part of the plan.

Elaborating on the effort October 28, Microsoft cited an issue in which Visual Studio would crash because of an extension. Current in-proc extensions are subject to few restrictions over how they can influence the IDE and other extensions, allowing them to corrupt the IDE if an extension crashes or experiences an error.

A big change to the extensions model is that extensions will be made out-of-proc, helping to increase isolation between external and internal extension APIs and prevent a buggy extension from causing other extensions or the IDE to crash, slow down, or hang. Designing a new out-of-proc extension model allows Microsoft to completely redesign the Visual Studio extension APIs. 

Visual Studio extension writers have submitted feedback complaining of inconsistent APIs, an overwhelming architecture, and confusion over how to implement even basic commands. Discovering APIs, and knowing when or where to use them, can be challenging. The new out-of-proc extension model should make writing extensions more uniform and easier, with easily discoverable APIs. However, Microsoft cautioned that completing the new extension model would take time. The project is still in the conceptual phases.

Developers can participate in a survey on extensions they leverage.

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