New in VS 2017 RC1: Cordova, Unity Tools Updates

The Visual Studio 2017 RC from a week ago introduced speedier build and edit-debug tools for TACO, and an improved IDE for Unity game devs.

With the release of Visual Studio 2017 RC that coincided with the Connect(); event last week was an update to two key tools for Cordova and gamers: faster build and edit-debug performance for Tools for Apache Cordova (a.k.a TACO) and improvements to the Tools for Unity 3 IDE.

The speedier performance in TACO comes as a result of some feedback and studies of initial build issues that Cordova developers were encountering. "Our data indicate that 26% of developers using TACO encounter an error during their first build due mostly to issues with NPM and network firewalls," writes Jordan Matthiesen, Microsoft Program Manager, in a blog. "In this release, we set out to fix that."

One area of improvement is the addition of a workload, Mobile development with JavaScript, that can be installed via VS's new installer that cuts out the fat in tool chain dependencies and is more rigorously tested during prototyping. Developers are then prompted for build tools targeting specific devices as apps are pushed into production, rather than having them loaded up front.

TACO also provides a number of sandboxed tool sets to address another commonly reported issue in builds that would result in failures because of mismatches within the npm/network firewall/local tool chain. Matthiesen offers up one example package for Cordova 6.3.1 that pairs up Cordova 6.3.1, Node 4.3.3 and npm 2.15.0, with Microsoft providing other new tool sets for the more recent versions of iOS, Android and Windows in the coming weeks.

TACO has also made a small change to the build output pane, with color-coded errors and more informational headers.

And one more change: The use of the Cordova Simulate extension to simulate a mobile app among a number of variables. Matthiesen notes that this release "also fixed numerous bugs in the product and re-written the build process to increase stability and decrease heavy build times." 

On the gaming end of VS 2017 RC1 is an update to Tools for Unity 3, in preview mode. Highlights are mainly in the IDE:

  • Customized coloring: Unity messages and events can be colored to have them stick out as you code.
  • Code completion: IntelliSense now pops up for Unity classes that support it.
  • Expression evaluator: It behaves more like .NET's debugger.

Developers who want use VS 2017 RC to edit Unity code will need to configure it so that Unity can find it. Details on tis and more are in this link.

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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