Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 Released

Microsoft announced the release of Visual Studio 2012 Update 2, demonstrating its commitment to a new cadence for releasing tools updates more rapidly and consistently.

Microsoft announced that it has released Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 (VS2012.2), the latest version of its flagship software development tool suite.

The new release adds features and improvements in five main categories: Agile planning, quality enablement, line-of-business development, Windows Store development and developer experience.

Consistent with Microsoft's commitment to releasing updates on a shorter timeline and increasing developers' capabilities with Visual Studio, this second official update arrives a little more than four months after the November 2012 release of Visual Studio 2012 Update 1 (VS2012.1). Microsoft released Visual Studio 2012 to manufacturing in August 2012 and launched the initial version of the product a month later. Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 can be downloaded here.

Visual Studio 2012 Update 1 contained not only bug fixes and performance improvements, but also new functionality spanning four primary areas of investment: Windows development, SharePoint development, Agile teams, and continuous quality, said Soma Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Developer Division, in an April 4 blog post.

Visual Studio 2012 introduced a wide range of capabilities focused on enabling Agile teams, not only for development but also for planning, Somasegar said. "With VS2012.2, Team Foundation Server (TFS) has been augmented with an additional variety of features to help make it even easier for Agile teams to do their planning, in particular around adapting to a team's preferences and work styles. For example, VS2012.1 introduced new project tracking options, including a Kanban board and a cumulative flow diagram; VS2012.2 augments those experiences with the ability to customize the Kanban board to adapt it for an organization's needs. Other features include work item tagging that provides a simple and flexible way to add metadata to work items in support of better organization and reporting, support for emailing work items via the TFS Web Access portal, and more."

Aaron Bjork, principal program manager lead for Cloud Developer Services at Microsoft, told eWEEK Microsoft's transformation to become more agile began back when the company was building Visual Studio 2010 and Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2010.

"That was the first tool where we knew we had to start supporting Agile teams in a way we hadn't in the past," Bjork said.

At the time, Microsoft was on a two-and-a-half-year cadence for releasing its developer toolset. Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) 2010 introduced new features and capabilities to help agile teams with planning. Planning for that release began in 2008. And in the fall of 2010, Microsoft began its planning for Visual Studio 2012.

Meanwhile, a key focus area for Visual Studio 2012 is in enabling quality to be maintained and improved throughout development cycles, Somasegar said. Update 2 enhances this with Web-based access to the Test Case Management tools in TFS such that users can now author, edit and execute test cases through the Web portal, he added. It also includes the ability to profile unit tests, improve unit-testing support for both asynchronous code and for interactions with the UI, unit testing support for Windows Phone 8 apps, unit-test playlists that enable a subset of tests to be managed together, and makes improvements around testing for SharePoint 2013, among other things.

Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 improvements for developing and modernizing line-of-business apps include the ability to use Microsoft's LightSwitch to easily build cross-browser and mobile Web clients with HTML and JavaScript. The update also includes new support to target SharePoint 2013 and Office 365, and features support in Microsoft's Blend design tool for SketchFlow, WPF 4.5, and Silverlight 5.

The new release also brings new features for Windows Store development, including improved diagnostics for JavaScript apps with a new profiling tool that helps diagnose UI responsiveness issues and latency in visual updates. This release also incorporates the latest version of the Windows App Certification Kit.

Finally, regarding the overall developer experience, with VS2012.2, Microsoft has updated the Code Map feature with improved responsiveness as well as with debugger integration to provide a visual perspective on the relationships and dependencies in code being debugged.

In addition, "symbol loading has been improved across both the profiling and IntelliTrace experiences," Somasegar said. "The Workflow designer now has an improved debugging experience. The XAML design surface in both Blend and the Visual Studio editor includes multiple performance and reliability improvements, in particular when loading large projects and when using third-party controls. The IDE's light and dark themes are now joined by a third, blue theme. And more, such as including all of the improvements made available through ASP.NET and Web Tools 2012.2."