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Taking Visual Studio 2015 for a Test Drive

A quartet of Visual Studio team members demonstrated a number of the "mobile first, cloud first" innovations in the newly released development platform at Visual Studio Live! in Redmond.

With the recent release of Visual Studio 2015, Microsoft's Daniel Moth echoed attendees' sentiments about the current development climate. "There has never been better time to be a developer," he said. Moth kicked off Tuesday morning, August 11, at Visual Studio Live! on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA.

Moth, a program manager on the Visual Studio team, spoke primarily of the recently released Visual Studio 2015 development environment, and how developers can get the most out of it right away. Speaking to a packed house, Moth walked the crowd through a series of demos and an overview of Visual Studio 2015's enhancements. "Developers and solutions they build help determine how customers experience products. That's what differentiates those companies from competition. How many enterprises can you think where developers don't play most important role?"

He emphasized how Microsoft's stance as a Mobile First, Cloud First company. "Mobile experiences reach customers wherever they are," he says. "And mobiles experiences backed by services. We enable and support every development team to build any app you can imagine. You can target any platform that makes sense. There has never been a bigger opportunity for developers to reach customers wherever they are. And Visual Studio is uniquely positioned to deliver on any app, any developer."

Moth then ran through the Visual Studio family, starting with Visual Studio Online, a cloud-based solution that provides development services like version control, agile planning and continuous delivery. Team Foundation Server delivers the same services and is available regardless of platform or development tool. The flagship integrated development environment (IDE) is the new Visual Studio 2015, which still has several different editions from the full IDE to the free Visual Studio Community.

While explaining the productivity benefits of the new Visual Studio 2015 IDE, Moth urged the crowd of developers to browse the gallery of Visual Studio extensions, and truly make Visual Studio their own. "Some of those extensions were created by internal team at Microsoft," he said. Most of the extensions in the gallery were submitted by the development community at large.

Moth singled out Python tools for Visual Studio and Nodejs tools for Visual Studio as two of the most popular and high-impact extensions. "Visual Studio has rich integration with the functionality of Python and nodejs. They provide remote debugging in Windows, Linux and the mac, so we're reaching more developers with Visual Studio," Moth said. "Another example is Visual Studio tools for Unity. This free extension combines the power of Visual Studio with Unity to reach more than 22 platforms."  

Then Cathy Sullivan, another program manager on Moth's team led the first demo, showing the many ways you can customize Visual Studio. "My Visual Studio is highly customized," she said. "I have an enhanced scroll bar and also have some custom layouts. I don't want all tool windows in the way as I'm moving between lots of displays. You can also manage [those custom settings] and they roam with me whenever I sign into my Microsoft account."

She also demonstrated some of the productivity enhancements to the new edition, including some of the shortcuts and code management tools. "You can use the lightbulbs for things that aren't necessarily code errors. If you're typing away and a lightbulb shows up, you may need to remove an unnecessary cap. It helps you keep your code a little cleaner." 

Another program manager on the Visual Studio team Andrew Hall presented the next demo, creating and debugging an app live on stage, showing how to configure breakpoints and exceptions. He focused on Visual Studio's debugging tools like Intellitrace and the new ability to modify lambda expressions, which got a round of applause from the audience. "That's one of the new things we've added to Visual Studio 2015," he said. Later he showed some of the more flexible aspects of the debugger. "I am going to add logging on the fly here to clock settings specify action and conditions. In Visual Studio enterprise, we can see Intellitrace events. We can see where trace points were hit."

The ability to modify lambda expressions was the top requested new feature, said Moth. "That shows where we're moving in the state of art more in debugger workflow."

Richard Lander, also a program manager on the Visual Studio team, took the third and final demo. He was going to demonstrate a console app and an APS.NET5 app both running on a Mac."ASP.NET5 and .Net Core are entirely delivered through nuget," Lander said. While he did have to switch machines, he intended to present three examples showing the fundamentals of using ASP.NET5 on any operating system. Moth and his team wrapped up the information-rich session referring the audience to visualstudio.com for downloads and the github sites for extensions and examples.

At the Visual Studio Live! event in New York City, coming this September 28 through October 1, Brian Harry kicks off the event with his keynote address on Tuesday morning. Mary Jo Foley and Andrew Brust deliver the opening keynote on Wednesday.

About the Author

Lafe Low has been a technology editor and writer for more than 25 years. Most recently, he was the editor in chief of TechNet magazine. He has also held various editorial positions with Redmond magazine, CIO magazine and InfoWorld. He also launched his own magazine entitled Explore New England, and has published four editions of his guidebook The Best in Tent Camping: New England.

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