Visual Studio Productivity Power Tools 2013 Kills Productivity

Update: This issue has been resolved and verified. You can get it from Visual Studio Gallery at http://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/dbcb8670-889e-4a54-a226-a48a15e4cace

At Build 2014, Microsoft did a suitable job of persuading me to run the latest version of Visual Studio. I updated to Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 RC and also installed the Productivity Power Tools 2013 extension. Soon afterwards, I started seeing long-lasting hangs in Visual Studio while editing my fairly modest C++ solution.

I initially tried to ignore the problem by killing and restarting Visual Studio, but this quickly compounded my frustration. My next tactic was to record one of these hangs using Windows Performance Recorder (see my previous post for background on this tool).

Upon opening the recorded trace in Windows Performance Analyzer, I came to the conclusion that Visual Studio had stopped pumping Windows messages. As we see in the graph below, thread 5959 went 179 seconds without checking for new messages. Why?

vs-hang1

One possibility was that the UI thread was waiting on another thread. However, when I opened the CPU Usage (Sampled) graph and filtered it to thread 5956, I could see that the thread was pegging the CPU. My machine has four logical processors and so 25% CPU usage means that one of my processors was being utilized completely.

vs-hang2

After loading symbols, I was able to drill down into the aggregated stack. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, but I eventually saw some enlightening function names on the stack.

vs-hang3

The aggregated stack usage showed that a lot of processing time was being spent in SolutionErrorFilter.dll. At this point, I remembered that I had installed the Productivity Power Tools 2013 extension so that I could see errors highlighted in Solution Explorer.

After proving to myself that SolutionErrorFilter.dll was not part of the base Visual Studio 2013 installation (it was installed to the extensions folder), I uninstalled the Productivity Power Tools 2013 extension. At this point, somewhat ironically, my productivity increased back to normal levels.

Big thanks to Microsoft for releasing symbols for Visual Studio, as well as for appropriately naming their binaries.

Despite this issue, I still recommend the Build 2014 talk entitled Tips and Tricks in Visual Studio 2013. I will post other favourite talks soon.

Update (from Microsoft): 

Thank you for your feedback. We are aware of the issue and are investigating a fix. We’re tracking this issue through connect id 816883.http://connect.microsoft.com/VisualStudio/feedback/details/816883/ide-becomes-unusable-if-error-list-contains-too-many-entries

We will resolve this issue as a duplicate of that one. You can vote 816883, but we’re already looking to make a fix.

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4 Responses to Visual Studio Productivity Power Tools 2013 Kills Productivity

  1. brucedawson says:

    Have you filed a bug? I know that Productivity Power Tools is not part of the main VS release, but it is created (I believe) by the VS team and I’m sure they would appreciate a bug report, especially if you have a repro.

    Thanks for doing these investigations.

  2. Alnoor Allidina says:

    Good point. I did end up filing a bug, and it seems to be working its way through the system.

  3. From MS:

    Greetings from Microsoft Connect!

    This notification was generated for feedback item: Productivity Power Tools 2013 Extension Hangs VS which you submitted at the Microsoft Connect site.

    Thank you for your feedback. We are aware of the issue and are investigating a fix. We’re tracking this issue through connect id 816883. http://connect.microsoft.com/VisualStudio/feedback/details/816883/ide-becomes-unusable-if-error-list-contains-too-many-entries

    We will resolve this issue as a duplicate of that one. You can vote 816883, but we’re already looking to make a fix.

  4. Hello All

    This issue has been fixed in the new release of Productivity Power Tools. You can get it from Visual Studio Gallery at http://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/dbcb8670-889e-4a54-a226-a48a15e4cace

    Let us know if you continue to experience issues.

    Mark Wilson-Thomas
    Program Manager, Visual Studio Editor.

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