Microsoft is busy putting the finishing touches on the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and to help get developers get up to speed, the software maker released a preview of Visual Studio 2017 version 15.4.
Included among the many new features and enhancements is support for .NET Standard 2.0 and other capabilities meant to help developers that plan to release software for the upcoming operating system update from Microsoft. "With the release of the Windows Fall Creators Update, you will be able to leverage the power of .NET Standard 2.0 when building UWP [Universal Windows Platform] applications," said Christine Ruana, principal program manager of Visual Studio at Microsoft, in a blog post.
According to Ruana, .NET Standard 2.0 offers more than 20,000 .NET APIs that Windows developers can use to exploit many of the new features debuting in the update. Now ".NET Standard 2.0 also allows for easier sharing of code between various .NET project types as project-to-project references, or as NuGet packages. We are starting to see a variety of NuGet packages show up on NuGet.org with support for .NET Standard 2.0, all of which will be available for consumption inside UWP projects," she noted.
For mobile and game developers, Microsoft's flagship independent development environment (IDE) now features better support for the new Unity 2017.1 runtime, said Ruana. Unity is a popular cross-platform game engine used to create many of today's 3D entertainment titles and simulations. On the mobile front, the software now includes Xamarin Live Player, allowing developers to build, test and debug mobile applications using Visual Studio and their iOS and Android devices.
The software also includes an early version of a project template that allows developers to package legacy classic Windows applications created with C++ or .Net into an .appx package that can be distributed using the Windows Store. (Microsoft acquired mobile application development toolmaker Xamarin last year.)
Reflecting the collaborative problem-solving habits of many developers, Visual Studio 2017 version 15.4 will provide users better guidance when they run into installation issues.
If the installer encounters an error, and it has already been reported by other users, the software will lead users to the corresponding discussion in the Visual Studio Developer Community forums. In a productivity-enhancing move, Ruana said her team added a number of time-saving features like the ability to invoke the Go to Definition code navigation tool with the Ctrl+Click command.
The software also includes support for CMake, a open-source build process management software toolkit, allowing C++ developers to target Linux, Windows or both operating system environments. Visual Studio 2017 version 15.4 is compatible with CMake version 3.9, including projects containing multiple CMakeLists.
Developers using the R statistical computing language can now connect directly to R sessions running on remote, cloud-based or on-premise Linux and Windows systems. Other R-based improvements include live previews of markdown edits and error-highlighting capabilities.
Finally, users may notice a snappier experience overall because Microsoft developers were able to improve memory usage and performance compared to preceding versions.