Visual Studio Code January Build Gets Interactive

Version 1.9 of the online code editor sports a new look and some new tools to get developers up to speed quickly, including an Interactive Playground to test-drive some of the news features.

Microsoft's Visual Studio team earlier this month released Visual Studio Code January Build (a.k.a. version 1.9), and it comes with a number of enhancements for faster project building on top of a new Welcome Page. Many of the new and enhanced features can be test-driven from the Interactive Playground feature.

The Interactive Playground is a nice addition, and one that could prove useful added to other tools across the board. A sample screen shot on the VSC blog shows an example of a new feature, multi-cursor editing, showing the steps to implement it as well as some practical uses for it. The sample shows the capability to put cursors at the beginning of all occurrences of a string from within a block of code for simultaneous editing.

VSC's integrated terminal has gone through some performance improvements, with performance that's fast enough that even when processing large amounts of data, there's no discernible lockup of an application. By default, any string selected in the terminal can now be copied and pasted via a right click. Other terminal enhancements: new cursor styles, support for wide characters, and PowerShell as the default shell (although a setting can revert the shell back to cmd.exe).

Other notable highlights:

  • Markdown Preview: The editor will provide immediate markdown preview, and as code is scrolled through, so will the preview; double-clicking an element in the preview and the code view will open up at the line; C++, Go, Rust, and Scala code blocks will show syntax highlighting.
  • Editor: Formatters that support Format on Paste is now enabled through a setting; adds inspection tools for Textmate Scopes, and now Textmate themes are accurately rendered; favorite snippets can be key binded; addition of Go To Implementation and Peek Implementation commands; Match Case and Whole Words behave more consistently while performing multi-cursor editing.
  • Languages: Now supports TypeScript 2.1.5 and allows easily switching among versions; includes References CodeLens.
  • Debugging: Single-file debugging without having to launch a project is now enabled by pressing the F5 key at the start of a debug session; inline display of variable values while stepping through code (an experimental feature for now); VSC can automatically choose debug environment based on language being used; Debug dropdown includes option for adding a launch configuration; callstack copy/paste now a context menu item.

For a full list of improvements and enhancements, go here.

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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