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How to get old extensions to work in newer versions of Visual Studio (specifically, how to use the "Visual Studio 2013 Color Theme Editor" in VS "14")

I’ve been playing around with VS “14” and the new C# 6 features, but the default theme is burning my eyes out.

I tried to install the Visual Studio 2013 Color Theme Editor, but it threw the following error:

VS14ExtensionFailed

You can get around this by modifying the manifest file.

  • Open “ColorThemeEditor.vsix” using a program like 7-Zip (the file is just a zip file).
  • Extract the “extension.vsixmanifest” file and open it in a text editor (Notepad is fine).

Look for the following section:

<installation installedbymsi="false"><installationtarget id="Microsoft.VisualStudio.Pro" version="[12.0,13.0)"></installationtarget><installationtarget id="Microsoft.VisualStudio.IntegratedShell" version="[12.0,13.0)"></installationtarget></installation>

Note the left square bracket, but the right parenthesis. Here’s the meaning (you can read more on The Visual Studio Blog):

  • [ – minimum version inclusive.
  • ] – maximum version inclusive.
  • ( – minimum version exclusive.
  • ) – maximum version exclusive.
  • Single version # – minimum supported version with unbounded max.

Technically, I’d think you’d be able to keep just 12.0 as the version number (last bullet point above), but that didn’t work.

For the sake of getting this to work, remove the brackets/parenthesis and replace the version numbers with 14.0:

<installation installedbymsi="false"><installationtarget id="Microsoft.VisualStudio.Pro" version="14.0"></installationtarget><installationtarget id="Microsoft.VisualStudio.IntegratedShell" version="14.0"></installationtarget></installation>

Also adjust the Dependency node so that the Version is “14.0”:

<dependency displayname="Visual Studio Product Updates" id="8EAF6C8E-1283-4EEE-AB6E-F0F087BFCBFD" location="http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/eng/2013-downloads" version="14.0"></dependency>

Save the file, put it back in the “vsix” file, and that may be enough to allow you to install it.

It only got me a little further:

VS14ExtensionWorking

But then I got more errors before the installation completed:

VS14ExtensionFailed2

The error message from the log (first screenshot) says:

> Install Error : Microsoft.VisualStudio.ExtensionManager.MissingReferencesException: This extension cannot be installed because the following references are missing:  
> – Visual Studio Product Updates

To get around that error, I installed the VS “14” CTP SDK.

VS14CTPSDKInstall

Rebooted, and good to go:

VS14ExtensionFinished

VS14DarkTheme


Grant Winney

Grant Winney

I write when I've got something to share - a personal project, a solution to a difficult problem, or just an idea. We learn by doing and sharing. We've all got something to contribute.

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