New and improved

Microsoft unveils Visual Studio 2015

Natali Vlatko
Microsoft image via Shutterstock

Microsoft’s new and improved Visual Studio 2015 has landed, with arms open wide for development that targets all popular platforms. Microsoft wants their offering to be known as a cross-platform toolset and have the features to show for it.

Microsoft has just announced the availability of Visual Studio 2015 and .NET 4.6 for download. Corporate VP of the Developer Division at Microsoft S. “Soma” Somasegar has labelled it the “next big step” in their push to bring Visual Studio and .NET to new developers, together with renewed innovation in developer productivity for existing users.

For those looking forward to the availability of Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2015, some patience is recommended as it hangs out for a while longer in release candidate-mode. TFS RC 2 shipped on July 13, bringing with it basic license expansion, changes to schema in databases and a new capability to set policies on branches which improves the quality of code going into Git.

Punters can expect TFS 2015 to be fully available in about a month, with some adjustments made to the release schedule by Brian Harry. Harry states he wanted to “take a little extra time to ensure a seamless upgrade to TFS 2015 at (Release to Manufacturing) RTM”.

What’s new for Visual Studio 2015

Microsoft want the world to know that Visual Studio can be used for any project, on any platform. The new release is said to bring hundreds of new features for developers building for desktop, web, mobile, cloud and more.

Debugging and profiling have been brought together under the one Diagnostics Tool window, along with the introduction of the PerfTips tool which allows users to see how long code took to execute directly in the editor when setting breakpoints and step with the debugger.

Improvements have been made to the C++ debugger and two new UI debugging tools for XAML have been added. Users can utilise these to inspect the visual tree of their running WPF application, as well as the properties on any element in the tree. The Live Visual Tree and the Live Property Explorer mean you can select any element in your running app and show the final, computed and rendered properties.

Language wise, the final versions of C# 6 and Visual Basic 14 are included on top of C++ 11/14/17, TypeScript 1.5, F# 4.0 and tools for Python. Updates to the JavaScript Editor include ES6 support, JSDoc comments and tooling support for AngularJS.

A cross-platform toolset

Microsoft’s intention with Visual Studio this time around was to create a tool that allows developers to target the platforms of their choosing. In order to allow for iOS and Android development in HTML, CSS and JavaScript, Apache Cordova has been integrated to build, debug and test cross-platform apps that also work for Windows and Windows Phone. Tools for Universal Windows app development are also integrated with Visual Studio setup.

The Visual Studio Emulator for Android has been made available to users without the need to install Visual Studio, adding new Android platforms Jellybean 4.2 and Lollipop 5.1. C++ cross-platform mobile development gives you the option to share, reuse, build, deploy and debug all but the most platform-specific code across multiple app platforms.

Microsoft’s partnership with Xamerin also means you can also create projects from templates for Android Native Activity apps. The Xamerin deal gives developers the additional opportunity to extend their .NET applications to target iOS and Android.

Web and Cloud development gets a boost from ASP.NET 4.6, the newest version of Microsoft’s Web development framework, with the preview of ASP.NET 5 available to play around with. The latest Azure SDK is in there, too.

All in all, Microsoft has focused on targeting a wider range of platforms and programming models for developers from almost every ilk. A comprehensive overview of each tweak and change can be found in the release notes, as well as via the Visual Studio blog.

Natali Vlatko
An Australian who calls Berlin home, via a two year love affair with Singapore. Natali was an Editorial Assistant for (S&S Media Group).

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