Things I Think Are Cool is a blog series where I talk about things I have found interesting and helpful. They can be time savers, productivity tools, podcasts, books, products, or even people.

When I'm developing - I often find the need to have multiple solutions open at once. Whether it's to see how I did something previously - or whether I need to look at the source code of Xamarin.Forms to see why something I'm working on isn't working... I may be in the Xamarin.Forms source code more than I'd like to admit :)

Anyway - having multiple solutions open at one time is advantageous to my workflow.

When Xamarin Studio was the only IDE in town for Xamarin development on the macOS, I thought the only way to have multiple solutions open at once was to have multiple instances of Xamarin Studio open.

I used redth's (of Xamarin Android fame) great tool - Xamarin Studio Launcher to do the dirty work of opening multiple instances of Xam Studio for me.

It worked great ... until Visual Studio for Mac entered the picture as the IDE we need to use going forward.

How then am I to have multiple solutions open at once??

That's what this week's Things I Think Are Cool is all about ... the many ways to do that with Visual Studio for Mac.

Why It's Cool

It turns out there are 3 (so far) ways of getting Visual Studio for Mac to have multiple solutions open at once. (And like the old Schoolhouse Rock song ... 3 Is a Magic Number ... I've been looking for a way to work that song into a post!)

(Update 5/25/17) There are now 4 ... count 'em 4 ways to have multiple solutions open in Visual Studio for Mac!

The first two ways are the old standby of having an application launch another instance of VS for Mac - thus a new solution can be loaded into it.

The above mentioned redth created an app called MS Solution Launcher that not only allows you to launch VS for Mac - but also allows you to launch Xamarin Studio as well. The app can even associate your preferred version (Xamarin or Visual Studio) to all *.sln files.

It's the Cadillac of launchers!

The second way is a quick app that I wrote that only launches new instances of VS for Mac. I wrote it before I found out about MS Solution Launcher... but still serves a purpose.

It's small and only does one thing. (It launches VS via a bash script open -n "/Applications/Visual" that I wrapped inside an Automator workflow.)

The final third way is to actually have several solutions open at once within the same instance of VS for Mac! Jim Bennett pointed this out to me - and essentially it amounts to hitting the "Options" button when opening a new solution (see below for Jim's post with more details).

Unbeknownst to me - you could actually do the same thing with Xamarin Studio! As Jim said - it's a very well hidden feature!

The final way was pointed out to me by Lluis Sanchez Gual, the team lead for Visual Studio for Mac....

Who knew there were so many ways?!?

How Do I Get It?

That's Cool!