Visual Studio Achievements Program Brings Gamification to Development

Starting today, developers who use Microsoft Visual Studio have a new way to highlight their skills, get recognition for the amazing work they do every day, and add some competitive fun to the development day.

Visual Studio Achievements, a Visual Studio plug-in, enables developers to unlock badges and compete against one another for a place on a leader board based on the code they write, its level of sophistication, and the Visual Studio capabilities they use to do so. Developers finally have the ability to actually show their friends, colleagues, project managers, spouses and customers how good they are at what they do all day and sometimes into the night.

Visual Studio Achievements is both playful and pragmatic. Built on ideas from the developers themselves, it is intended to be a humorous community-building game as well as a path to the many, and, to some, unknown features offered in Visual Studio. This is one of several initiatives Microsoft is undertaking to recognize developers for their tireless and indispensable work.

The three dominant factors shaping development in the industry today are how developers build apps, how they make money, and how they uniquely solve hard problems with new scenarios. The development environments, as well as the tools, need to be geared around how to make it easier and more enjoyable for Microsoft developers to do these three things. When you add in the prediction that by 2015, more than 50 percent of organizations will gamify their innovation processes, Achievements is a small but important element in delivering on that commitment.

The Visual Studio Achievements plug-in analyzes a background thread each time code is compiled, as well as listens for particular events and actions from Visual Studio. When certain criteria or actions are detected, the plug-in triggers a pop-up alert and awards a new badge, which is then displayed on the public leaderboard and the developer’s Channel 9 profile.


The Channel 9 team created the Visual Studio Achievements extension after reading a post by Rudi on the While True blog and the subsequent discussion on Reddit. Rudi’s post outlined a detailed list of mock achievements and badges for Visual Studio, which spurred more than 700 comments. Developers chimed in with their own ideas for badges and achievements, and the concept took shape. 

Jeff Sandquist, Senior Director of Developer Relations at Microsoft, loved the concept of bringing gamification to Visual Studio Achievements, and the idea went from a potential side project to an imperative and came to light over the course of six months.

“We talk to developers every day because their work and ideas fuel our products, projects and services,” said Sandquist. “Now there’s a fun factor as well as a healthy, competitive environment for Visual Studio developers to show off their everyday contributions that are otherwise unnoticed.”

· There are 32 achievements with six categories and corresponding badges.




Customizing Visual Studio

Don’t Try This At Home

Good Housekeeping




Just For Fun

Power Coder

Unleashing Visual Studio

· Each time you earn a badge, a unique page is created with your profile picture, the badge and a description. You can tweet about achievements, share them on Facebook, and show a list of achievements on your blog using the Visual Studio Achievements Widget.


Download it today from the Visual Studio Gallery.

Posted by Karsten Januszewski
Software Development Engineer, Channel 9, Microsoft

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