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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Open a Project in Expression Blend from Visual Studio

If you work in both Blend and Visual Studio you will notice that there are significant gaps in functionality between the two.  In Blend you get a rich design and animation interface (and it looks way cooler, too) but don’t get some of the much-needed development tools.  In Visual Studio, you get productivity-focused tools like intellisense but lose out on easy storyboard manipulation and the like.

Basically, if you do at least a little of design and a little of development, you need to be running both Expression Blend and Visual Studio.

From within Blend there are a number of actions that will result directly in Visual Studio opening (such as drilling into a click event on a button) if you have Visual Studio installed.  However, Visual Studio doesn’t reciprocate the favour when you’re looking for something more design-friendly.

To open your project in Blend directly from Visual Studio, you’ll need to hack together an external tool link.


Go to Tools –> External Tools in Visual Studio and add a new entry to the menu contents.  You can set your title to whatever you like (I used Send to &Blend).  Your Command should be set to the path for the EXE where you have Blend installed.  Lastly, set the Arguments property to the following:


…which will tell Visual Studio to pass the current project path and name to Blend as it opens the project.

Happy Blending!

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