SAN FRANCISCO – Microsoft’s Build conference is always a major developer fest where the company unveils all kinds of neat new tools and services, but in the words of one company evangelist, this year Microsoft has outdone itself.
Indeed, Microsoft released Visual Studio 2015 Release Candidate (RC), .NET Framework 4.6, Team Foundation Server 2015 RC, and Visual Studio 2013 Update 5 RC and also a preview of a new tool that runs on Mac OS, Linux, and Windows called Visual Studio Code.
In a blog post, John Montgomery, director of product management for Visual Studio at Microsoft, called Visual Studio Code the big announcement of the day. This new member of the Visual Studio family is a free, lightweight, cross-platform code editor for Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows. It includes many of the familiar features of Visual Studio, such as IntelliSense, peek, code navigation, and debugging, but it centers on being a keyboard-centric editor. It supports a wide range of languages with enhanced support for Node.js and ASP.NET 5.
Visual Studio Code was met with enthusiasm when Scott Hanselman, a Microsoft principal program manager, introduced it as part of a demo during the conference’s opening keynote.
“Visual Studio Code is a neat tool and something they totally needed to do,” said Miguel de Icaza, chief technology officer at Xamarin, a close Microsoft partner in the tools space. “This is a boost for server-side Web app development and ASP.NET. Most Web developers aren’t using Visual Studio, so this is a way to appeal to them.”
Visual Studio Code is certainly in line with Microsoft’s commitment to become all things to all developers or to “empower every developer on the planet,” as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said. The concept of building bridges for developers on platforms other than Windows is resonating. Hanselman drew “oohs and aahs” when he demonstrated Visual Studio Code running in the iOS and Linux (Ubuntu) environments.
In his own post, Hanselman wrote:
“Visual Studio Code has syntax highlighting for dozens of languages, the usual suspects like CoffeeScript, Python, Ruby, Jade, Clojure, Java, C++, R, Go, makefiles, shell scripts, PowerShell, bat, xml, you get the idea. It has more than just autocomplete (everyone has that, eh?) it has real IntelliSense. It also as IntelliSense for single files like HTML, CSS, LESS, SASS, and Markdown. There’s a huge array of languages that Visual Studio Code supports.
Meanwhile, last November Microsoft introduced the free Visual Studio Community edition and announced plans to take .NET Core public. And over the last six months, the company has seen the results from both of these efforts with more than 2.7 million downloads of Visual Studio Community and a vibrant ecosystem of developers and organizations rallying around open-source, cross-platform .NET development, said S. “Soma” Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Developer Division.
Microsoft Intros Visual Studio Code, Bevy of New Tools
In a blog post, Somasegar said Visual Studio Code delivers rich coding experiences beyond those seen in traditional text editors, including code assistance, code navigation, linting, and refactoring enabled within the core editor experience. And Code understands Git, and delivers great Git workflows and source diffs integrated with the editor.
“But developers don’t spend all their time just writing code: they go back and forth between coding and debugging,” Somasegar said. “Debugging is the most popular feature in Visual Studio, and often the one feature from an IDE that developers want in a leaner coding experience. Visual Studio Code includes a streamlined, integrated debugging experience, currently with support for Node.js debugging, and more coming soon.”
Microsoft also made Visual Studio 2015 Release Candidate available for download, with a go-live license to enable developers to take Visual Studio 2015 into production.
For developers targeting the Windows ecosystem, Visual Studio 2015 RC provides tools for building apps and games for the Universal Windows Platform that run across all Windows 10 devices, including phones, tablets, PCs, Xbox, the Internet of Things (IoT) and HoloLens. There are new UI debugging tools, an improved XAML designer and enhanced profiling and debugging features. For mobile developers, Visual Studio 2015 includes tools for building cross-platform apps that run on all of today’s popular mobile platforms including Android, iOS and Windows. With Visual Studio developers can target those platforms using Apache Cordova, Xamarin, or C++. And for web and server development, Visual Studio continues to provide many choices for application development with tooling for Python or Node.js, and .NET options with languages such as C#, Visual Basic or F#.
In addition, .NET Core is now available on Linux and MacOS and Microsoft is beginning to make changes in the framework to enable more cross-platform support and has added a new version of the 64-bit just-in-time (JIT) Compiler that improves performance over the existing 64bit JIT compiler.
Microsoft also has integrated the Visual Studio tools for Universal Windows app development into Visual Studio setup. These tools enable developers to create, upgrade, build, deploy, and debug Windows apps that run across all Windows devices, from Windows Phone to Xbox and Windows Store. In addition, developers can also use these tools to build Windows Desktop Applications that leverage Windows 10 APIs, Montgomery said.
Moreover, in addition to new platform support, Visual Studio 2015 brings dozens of new productivity and diagnostics features to developers. The list of improvements include the new Diagnostics Tools window that provides on-by-default access to key performance and memory usage information during normal debug sessions, giving you insights into application performance earlier in the development cycle.
Also, with many developers working with open source projects in Visual Studio today, Microsoft also has added GitHub integration to Team Explorer in Visual Studio, providing easy access to open source projects in GitHub from the familiar Visual Studio source control integration. This functionality has been co-developed by the teams at Microsoft and GitHub.