Types of Windows
There are two types of windows in the Visual Studio .NET IDE: tool windows and document windows. Tool windows are listed in the View menu and change based on the current application and the various add-ins you may have installed. Document windows are those windows that you open in order to edit some item in your project.
The windows you have learned about in this chapter, including Toolbox, Solution Explorer, Properties, Help, and Server Explorer, are all tool windows. You can manipulate and arrange these tool windows in the development environment in various ways. You can make these windows automatically hide or show themselves. You can have a group of them display in a tabbed format. You can dock them against the edges of the environment or have them free-floating, by first selecting a window and then selecting or clearing the Dockable option on the Window menu. You can even display these windows on a second monitor if you have dual-monitor capability. (To place tool windows on different monitors, use the display settings in the Control Panel to set up your multiple-monitor configuration. You can then drag the tool window to the other monitor. Only tool windows in a floating mode can be moved outside of the application frame.)
Normally, dockable windows snap into place when you drag them near a dockable location. If you want to drag a window without having the window snap into place, hold the Ctrl key down as you drag the window.
Tool windows provide some special features, including the following:
You can open multiple instances of certain tool windows. For example, you can have more than one Web Browser window open at one time. Use the Window, New Window menu to create new instances of windows.
Docked tool windows can be set to hide automatically when you select another window. When you set a tool window to auto-hide, the window slides to one of the sides of the development environment and only displays a tab showing the window icon and name. You can click or hover over the window's tab to unhide the window. Once you've opened the window, you can click the pushpin icon on the title bar of the window to keep it open and docked.
Double-click a docked window's title bar to undock the window. Double-click it again to dock the window.
Visual Studio .NET uses document windows (as opposed to tool windows) for all editable documents. These windows never dock. You'll use document windows for all your code editing and all design surfaces. You will be using many of the different document windows as you read through this book, so we will not spend a lot of time on them right now.
Visual Studio .NET supports two different interface modes for document windows: Multiple Document Interface (MDI) and Tabbed Documents. You can change modes using the Tools, Options dialog box. Select the Environment options and then the General pane. In MDI mode, the IDE provides a parent window that serves as a visual and logical container for all tool and document windows. Tabbed Documents mode displays all document windows maximized, and a tab strip on top shows the names of the open documents for quick navigation.
Once you start playing with your windows, you may find that getting them back to the default setting is rather difficult. Not to worry: Simply select Tools, Options, Environment, Reset Window Layout to return to your default window layout.