The wait is nearly over. Microsoft said today it plans to release Visual Studio 2017, the company's cross-platform IDE (integrated development environment), on Tuesday, March 7 during a two-day launch event. The event, featuring interactive demonstrations and training sessions, will be live-streamed from the Visual Studio website.
The news comes as the software giant celebrates Visual Studio's 20th anniversary. Julia Liuson, corporate vice president of Visual Studio at Microsoft, noted in her Feb. 9 announcement that a lot has changed in the past two decades.
"Over the years, Visual Studio grew from an IDE to a suite of products and services, including Visual Studio Team Services, Visual Studio Code, and many others," wrote the longtime Microsoft staffer. "The family of Visual Studio products extends across platforms, enabling developers to build mobile-first, cloud-first apps that span Android, iOS, Linux, MacOS, and Windows. It also offers industry-leading DevOps practices across all types of projects, as well as tight integration with the Azure cloud."
Earlier this week, Microsoft released an update to the Visual Studio 2017 Release Candidate (build 26206.00), which contains a new templating engine that streamlines the creation of new projects using the "dotnet new" command. Also new is a feature that enables intelligent code completion while writing SQL called Redgate SQL Prompt.
In terms of coding for the company's own Windows operating system, Microsoft showcased some of the developer-friendly functionality the software maker is including in the Creators Update for Windows 10 during the Windows Developer Day event on Feb. 8.
Embracing legacy code, Microsoft has created a "bridge" of sorts between traditional Windows software and the Universal Windows Platform (UWP).
"The Desktop Bridge for Windows enables existing desktop applications to call UWP APIs and to be distributed and updated via the Windows Store," wrote Kevin Gallo, corporate vice president of Windows Developer at Microsoft.
"The Desktop Bridge makes it easier than ever to share code between Win32, .NET and UWP, taking advantage of the store's ability to deliver easy and automated upgrades to help ensure that customers are always running the latest and best versions of their apps."
Other UWP enhancements include the ability to extend Windows Holographic experiences beyond HoloLens to forthcoming augmented-reality and virtual-reality headsets. The Cortana Skills Kit enables developers to integrate their app with Microsoft's virtual assistant technology. New visual and XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language) capabilities allow developers to add transitions, animations and other eye-catching effects to their apps with a few lines of code.
Gallo also pledged to foster stronger ties between his company and the developer community. As part of the effort, he said Microsoft is making its developer documentation available for community collaboration, gathering it all into docs.microsoft.com. "In addition, we will open our bug and feature backlog to the public and take bug contributions and feature requests" as of Feb. 8, he added.