Microsoft has released the Visual Studio Tools for Unity (VSTU) add-on for developers working with the Unity gaming tools platform.
This move comes less than a month after Microsoft acquired SyntaxTree, a French tools vendor and maker of the popular UnityVS plug-in for Visual Studio, which is now known as the Visual Studio Tools for Unity add-on or VSTU.
“VSTU is Microsoft’s free Visual Studio add-on that enables a rich programming and debugging experience for working with the Unity gaming tools and platform,” said Jb Evain, a senior software development engineer lead on the Visual Studio Platform Team, in a post on the Visual Studio blog. “This is our first release since the acquisition of SyntaxTree, and we’re excited to have the opportunity to reach to the Unity community with Visual Studio.”
The extension is available to download for free here to all customers who own Visual Studio Pro or above. Indeed, it is now available for download on the Visual Studio Gallery at the following links: Visual Studio 2010 Tools for Unity, Visual Studio 2012 Tools for Unity and Visual Studio 2013 Tools for Unity.
Highlights of the 1.9 release include a faster debugger, faster startup, better handling of C# constructs and the ability to start your game and debugging session in one click. Attaching and detaching the debugger as well as expanding local variables is now faster, as is opening VSTU projects, Evain said. Moreover, the local variables window is now properly populated when debugging iterators or when variables are accessed inside closures, he noted.
Finally, the ability to start a game and debugging session in one click was one of the most-requested features from developers. “You can now attach the debugger and start the game by simply changing the debug target,” Evan said. However, this is only available in Visual Studio 2012 and 2013.
Evain runs the Visual Studio Tools for Unity experience for the Visual Studio Platform team. He recently joined Microsoft as part of the acquisition of SyntaxTree, a company he founded and where he led the development of UnityVS.
Over the last decade, the Unity cross-platform game engine has grown to become a widely used rendering engine and tool for game developers targeting the desktop, consoles, mobile devices and the Web, with more than 2 million developers now using Unity for game development, said blog post on the acquisition.
Somasegar said games are the most popular application type on every major mobile platform—from Xbox and Windows to iOS, Android and the Web. And Windows has long been a great home for desktop gaming, he said. For developers, Visual Studio has been one of the most heavily used tools for game development across the industry, used by big game studios and indie developers alike, Somasegar added.
Microsoft wants to tap further into this opportunity and adding SyntaxTree to its fold will help enable that. Unity offers great support for targeting or porting to Windows, across Windows desktop, Windows Store and Windows Phone.