Microsoft Gears Up for Collaborative, AI-Infused Visual Studio 2019

Microsoft is doubling down on Visual Studio's collaboration and AI features for the next big version of the popular IDE.

Visual Studio

Some of the earliest signs that Visual Studio 2019 is on the way can be spied over at GitHub, the popular online code repository that Microsoft is acquiring for $7.5 billion in company stock.

"Because the Developer Tools teams (especially .NET and Roslyn) do so much work in GitHub, you'll start to see check-ins that indicate that we're laying the foundation for Visual Studio 2019, and we're now in the early planning phase of Visual Studio 2019 and Visual Studio for Mac," revealed John Montgomery, director of program management for Visual Studio at Microsoft, in a June 6 blog post.

.NET is the software development framework with which many Windows coders are intimately familiar. Roslyn, meanwhile, is the code name for the .NET compiler platform from Microsoft.

For Visual Studio 2019, Microsoft will continue to focus on the integrated development environment's (IDE) productivity- and collaboration-enhancing features, along with improving its reliability and making it easier for developers to get started on their projects. "Expect more and better refactorings, better navigation, more capabilities in the debugger, faster solution load, and faster builds," Montgomery said.

Also expect Microsoft to double down on Visual Studio's Live Share feature.

Announced in November 2017, Live Share allows developers to work on the same code together, similar to the co-authoring capabilities found in some Office 365 applications like Word and Excel that allow colleagues to jointly edit Office documents at the same time. Montgomery envisions teams of coders, even if their members don't share the same time zone, working collaboratively in real time using the feature.

Microsoft is also focusing on "working with online source repositories more seamless," Montgomery said. It's a goal that echoes the "empowering developers" theme that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explored in a June 4 blog post announcing the GitHub acquisition.

"Going forward, GitHub will remain an open platform, which any developer can plug into and extend," Nadella wrote. "Developers will continue to be able to use the programming languages, tools and operating systems of their choice for their projects—and will still be able to deploy their code on any cloud and any device."

Visual Studio will also lean on Microsoft's cloud to deliver some AI-powered assistance in the form of IntelliCode. Introduced in May during the software giant's Build 2018 developers conference, IntelliCode is an AI helper that learns over time and can suggest APIs, tidies up formatting and makes recommendations that reduce errors and improve code quality.

Microsoft is using its Azure cloud-computing platform to train IntelliCode and deliver its recommendations in Visual Studio. To ensure that IntelliCode adheres to best practices, its machine-learning model was initially trained with over 2,000 high-quality GitHub repositories.

For now, Microsoft is being tight-lipped about exactly when Visual Studio 2019 will be in developers' hands. An announcement is expected in the next couple of months, Montgomery said. Coders who participate in the Visual Studio 2017 Preview program will be among the first to know when the first beta version of Visual Studio 2019 is available, he added.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...