Microsoft Delivers Final Version of Visual Studio 2013 Update 3

Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 Update 3 features a host of enhancements, including CodeLens support for Git, Chef support and improved Agile tooling.

Visual Studio 2013 Update 3

Microsoft has released the final versions of Visual Studio 2013 Update 3 and Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2013 Update 3.

Microsoft has been on a quarterly release cycle for its flagship integrated development environment since 2012 and already is working on Visual Studio 2013 Update 4, said Brian Harry, a Microsoft corporate vice president and technical fellow, in an interview with eWEEK.

"There are a few things I'm excited about in this release," Harry said. "One of them is that we now provide CodeLens support for Git. CodeLens gives you this heads-up display overlay of your code. We introduced it as TFS version control support. We also introduced Git support. In update 3 we are bringing Git support up to parity with everything you can do with version control. There are still some things you can't do yet. You can't yet do code review with Git, but you can do it with TFS. However, CodeLens is a pretty big step for us."

Another fairly big thing in Update 3 is Application Insights tooling. Application Insights allows you to track application telemetry and Microsoft has introduced an SDK to enable developers to instrument their applications. That SDK is now included in VS 2013 Update 3.

Microsoft also continues to build out its release management capability, particularly since its acquisition of InRelease. "We've been integrating on that. We're converging the release management capability with other stuff," Harry said. "This one has support for PowerShell desired state configurations. The latest way to do reliable distributed app deployment."

The company also added integration with Chef, which, next to Puppet, is the most popular non-Windows deployment automation solution out there. "The big thing Chef gives Microsoft is a good story for non-Windows platforms. Now you can use Microsoft's release management software to also do deployments to apps on any platforms—on Linux, on Macs or any platforms," Harry said.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has also been working on is its test case management capabilities.

"We've been gradually iterating our customer feedback and addressing the most common requests," Harry said. "And we're doing a big one in Update 3. One of the big ones has been the ability to do test suite and plan customization so you don't have to use the out-of-the-box testing methodology, but that you can customize it to the testing methodology that you use. And along with that came a lot of things like better test cases, test case auditing so you could understand who made what changes to you test plans."

Harry said the most requested enhancement in Update 3 is related to the user interface (UI). Microsoft has received complaints about the Visual Studio UI ever since it made changes in 2012. "As you probably heard we got a lot of feedback on the UI since it shipped in 2012 regarding color schemes and the menus that were all caps; all uppercase," he said. "There's a set of our developers who just don't like that. As funny as it sounds, it is our number one request on UserVoice. It is the number one complaint. So in update 3 we made the menus configurable, so users can choose whether they like uppercase or lowercase. That got quite a reception when I first blogged about it."

Microsoft also made a set of improvements to its Agile tooling—the Scrum tooling in the TFS Web UI. "That's one where we're taking an iterative approach. We're trying to make it better."

At TechEd 2014, Microsoft provided support for Apache Cordova in Visual Studio in the way of a Community Technology Preview (CTP). The CTP of the Cordova tooling was so that developers can build cross-platform HTML apps that will run on Windows, iOS, Android and more. Microsoft is now releasing a new CTP of the Cordova tooling.