Visual F# Update To Include .NET Core Project Editing, Compiling
A preview of the forthcoming Visual F# Tools for F# 4.1 to be released later this year includes support for F# 4.1, editing and compiling .NET Core and .NET Framework projects, as well as support for tuples, struct records, and a number of other F# language enhancements.
- By Michael Domingo
The Visual FSharp team at Microsoft recently offered up a preview of the newest version of its Visual F# Tools for F# 4.1 that is expected to be released later this year. That release will allow for support for the upcoming version of F# 4.1, as well as support for editing and compiling .NET Core and .NET Framework projects. With the support for F# 4.1, there's also support for tuples, struct records, and a number of other coming F# language enhancements.
Visual F# Tools for F# is Microsoft's tooling interface to the F# programming language, a strongly typed, function-first language that is being developed and open sourced by the F# Foundation, of which Microsoft is an influential member and contributor. (F# has roots in the OCaml programming language, a language that also is the basis of the Scala language.)
A blog post from the Visual FSharp team notes that Visual F# Tools "will also include a cross-platform, open-source F# 4.1 compiler toolchain for .NET Framework and .NET Core, suitable for use on Linux, macOS/OS X, and Windows. We are also updating the Visual F# IDE Tools for use with the next version of Visual Studio."
Visual F#'s F# 4.1 support will support .NET Core 1.0 as well as .NET Framework 4.x, as well as backward compatibility with older .NET Framework. For those using F# on Linux and OS X, F# will run as a .NET Core component.
On the language side, Visual F# Tools will have support for tuples that will be able to interoperate with the ValueTuple type. There's also more support for annotating types. "To support the ValueTuple type and thus support interop with C# and Visual Basic, tuple types, tuple expressions, and tuple patterns can now be annotated with the struct keyword," is one example cited in the blog.
Also coming is support for structs and struct unions. Record types can be prepended with a Struct keyword to turn it into a struct record, which "allows records to now share the same performance characteristics as structs, without any other required changes to the type definition."
One other interesting highlight is the addition of the fixed statement that C# developers should be familiar with when using the .NET Intermediate Language: "It is possible to "pin" a pointer-typed local on the stack. C# has support for this with the fixed statement, preventing garbage collection within the scope of that statement."
The blog contains a good number of other coming language enhancements: use of underscores in numeric literals, caller info argument attributes, a Rust language-like result enum type, and lots of error message enhancemtns.
The Visual Fsharp team writes that the timing of the release for Visual F# Tools for F# is likely with Visual Studio '15' Update 1 later this year.
Michael Domingo is a long-time software publishing veteran, having started up and managed several developer publications for the Clipper compiler, Microsoft Access, and Visual Basic. He's also managed IT pubs for 1105 Media, including Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine and Virtualization Review before landing his current gig as Visual Studio Magazine Editor in Chief. Besides his publishing life, he's a professional photographer, whose work can be found by Googling domingophoto.