Fit, Finish Features Are Highlights in Visual Studio 15 Preview 4

Many of the new features previewed in the IDE -- setup engine, revamped the Start Page, quick launch from clone, etc. -- have been enhanced and improved. Dozens of language-specific improvements are also embedded in this fourth preview.

A fit and finish version of Visual Studio '15' means general availability is just on the horizon. Many of the new features in the IDE -- setup engine, revamped the Start Page, quick launch from clone, etc. -- have been enhanced and improved, and there are dozens of language-specific improvements embedded in this fourth preview.

As near as it is to being ready, Visual Studio '15' Preview 4 should be installed for testing purposes only. "This is an unsupported preview so don't install it on machines that you rely on for critical production work," writes John Montgomery, Director of Program Management for Visual Studio, in a blog post. "Second, Preview 4 should work side by side with previous versions of Visual Studio, but you should remove any previous Visual Studio "15" Preview installations before beginning the setup process."

Montgomery highlights the efficiency of the set-up engine:

"Nearly all of VS is running on the new setup engine, resulting in a smaller, faster and less impactful installation. The smallest install is less than 500 MB on disk (compared to 6GB in the previous release of Visual Studio). There are a couple of "workloads" that aren't present yet, including .NET Core tooling and Azure tooling, but the rest of the existing VS 2015 feature set is available."

There are likely plans to release at least another preview, he notes, one that will include "support for automated deployments, offline installation and further refactoring and componentization."

Visual Studio 15 Preview 4 also has a number of enhancements for starting up projects. The Start Page, for example, has been reconfigured and, according to the release notes, includes new "Open and Create facilities," with the ability to "acquire remote repos from VSTS" as an option. New projects created from the new Start Page can be started through searchable templates that can roam along other VSTS instances that developers might be working under.

There are dozens of new capabilities in this preview as well; here are the other highlights:

  • Roaming Extension Manager: Keep track of favorite extensions across projects you're working on.
  • Open Folder: Can open a folder rather than having to open a full project or solution. Based on the type of code in the folder, the editor will respond with features enabled for that environment.
  • Lightweight Solution Load: It's an experimental feature for now, but the aim is to enable faster solution loading.
  • Developer Command Prompt: "Refactored to support the new installation experience."
  • Debugging/Diagnostics: Includes new Exception Helper for non-modal, at-a-glance exception information.

Check out the release notes for more language-specific features.

About the Author

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.

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