Shareable Windows Terminal profile for installed Visual Studio Developer PowerShell

As I mentioned in another post, Visual Studio now provides a Developer PowerShell command prompt shortcut, which is super useful since it has all the environment variables properly set up to do things like msbuild from command line and have it pick the “right” MSBuild, as well as launching VS by just typing devenv. There is a not-so-minor drawback to these shortcuts though: they hardcode the VS installation ID, so just copy/pasting the command line in your Windows Terminal profile won’t roam nicely across machines:

C:\Windows\SysWOW64\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe -noe -c "&{Import-Module """C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019\Community\Common7\Tools\Microsoft.VisualStudio.DevShell.dll"""; Enter-VsDevShell 67c816dd}"

In addition, it hardcodes launching the old, non-cross-platform Powershell included in Windows.

So I figured I would combine the approach in that blog post with dotnet-vs to have a flexible and “forwards compatible” profile that will just launch the developer powershell for whichever version of VS you have installed, both for stable and preview versions of VS.

First step is installing dotnet-vs:

dotnet tool install -g dotnet-vs

The tool can do a ton of things with your VS installations, but we’ll just focus on how it surfaces the vswhere tool. To get your installed VS versions, you just run vs where. To get one specific property from the located VS, you run, for example vs where -prop=InstallationPath:

❯ vs where -prop=InstallationPath
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019\Community
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019\Preview
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2017\BuildTools

In my case, I have two versions, plus a build tools SKU too. If we just want the stable release of the full Visual Studio, we can instead run:

❯ vs where release -prop=InstallationPath
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2019\Community

The added release argument filters only stable VS versions. If you have more than one stable release installed, you can also pass in -first and you’ll just pick whichever is returned first. Finally, you can pass in preview instead of release and get the preview version (if any).

Armed with this, we can now build the command line to use for launching Powershell 7 (formerly Core).

The Enter-VsDevShell powershell command provided by the Microsoft.VisualStudio.DevShell.dll shown in the built-in shortcut for Developer Powershell shows the following help (run after starting a regular developer powershell from the provided shortcut):

❯ Enter-VsDevShell -?


    Enter-VsDevShell -VsInstallPath <string> [-SkipExistingEnvironmentVariables] [-StartInPath <string>] [-DevCmdArguments <string>] [-DevCmdDebugLevel {None | Basic | Detailed | Trace}]
    [-SkipAutomaticLocation] [-SetDefaultWindowTitle] [-ReportNewInstanceType {PowerShell | Cmd | LaunchScript}]  [<CommonParameters>]

Fortunately for us, we can pass in a -VsInstallPath instead of the installation ID! And we can get that install path dynamically for the current machine using vs where as shown above. Nice :)

So our profile entry (open with Ctrl+, or via the Settings menu in Windows Terminal) looks something like this:

    "guid": "{SOME_GUID}",
    "name": "Dev",
    "commandline" : "pwsh -noe -c \"&{ $dev=(vs where release -first -prop=InstallationPath); Write-Host Using $dev; Import-Module ($dev + '\\Common7\\Tools\\Microsoft.VisualStudio.DevShell.dll'); Enter-VsDevShell -VsInstallPath $dev"

You can optionally also pass -StartInPath to always open in your preferred code directory. You can add another entry for each of your VSes, by just tweaking the vs where arguments. I have another with preview instead of release and that’s it.

I usually also set a different background to quickly know which one I’m on, with "background" : "#011a3d", say.

See also Customizing Windows Terminal with Visual Studio tabs.