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Something New: ID Management, Productivity Tools in VS 2015

Some of the hidden gems in the just-released VS 2015 include improved account management as developers go from one environment to another, and the addition of some nifty features in the Productivity Power Tools for VS 2015.

There's so much information coming out from the Visual Studio team as far as new and improved features, and Visual Studio Magazine contributors are planning to cover them in more depths in the next several months. The Visual Studio team recently blogged about two new improvements that might appear minor, but could save lots of development time in the long run.

First are the improvements in identity management. Authentication can be a bone of contention for developers, particularly for those who have numerous accounts across on-premises and cloud environments. With more accounts, developers start to feel "harrassed" by the security measures asking for credential reentry, but improvements are on the way. "You can now chose to use a single account across many developer services, or use multiple accounts across Visual Studio," blogs Ji Eun Kwon and Anthony Cangialosi, program managers with the Visual Studio Platform IDE team. "All of this is possible because of the new Visual Studio Account Manager." While it's not perfect, it's about as close to global single sign-on as one could get, and the ease with switching among multiple accounts is built into the VS Account Manager as well.

The account manager manages account through a keychain approach, which allows users to add Microsoft accounts as well as work and school accounts to the keychain. "Visual Studio manages and refreshes tokens for the accounts centrally to reduce redundant sign-in prompts," so that users aren't continually being asked to reenter login credentials as they move from one service to another, and from on-premises to cloud.

Two new features are now available in this release for working with multiple accounts, the account picker control and the domain picker control. The account picker control is used to add new accounts as a developer starts to pile up a number of new services that are necessary to access during a typical development project. It appears in a dialog as the service is accessed and needs to be configured. When domains need to be configured for accessed services, the domain picker control appears in a dialog.

The list of accounts can be found under File | Account Settings when more control to add, filter or remove accounts is needed.

Moving on, the team has also made two new improvements to the Productivity Power Tools for Visual Studio 2015. PPT for VS 2015 is an extension pack of productivity tools that includes tools like Peek Help, Solution Errors, HTML Copy, and a dozen others that aren't part of the IDE. PPT for VS 2015 is feature-for-feature much like PPT for VS 2013, but the update now includes a Solution Error Visualizer, which works off of VS 2015's Error List to be able to filter errors from within the visualizer itself. As well, three of the productivity tools -- Color Printing, Colorized Parameter Help, and Organize VB Imports -- are now incorporated into the VS 2015 IDE.

About the Author

You Tell 'Em, Readers: If you've read this far, know that Michael Domingo, Visual Studio Magazine Editor in Chief, is here to serve you, dear readers, and wants to get you the information you so richly deserve. What news, content, topics, issues do you want to see covered in Visual Studio Magazine? He's listening at mdomingo@1105media.com.

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