News

Yes, Finally, Visual Studio 2017 Now Available

No secrets here, as features and updates of the suite have been portioned out in public testing in the months and weeks up to the launch. So much of what's new in this morning's announcements have to do with the current state of several VS iterations, including the Mac and Mobile Center previews, as well as some new benefits.

The day has arrived, and that's the point in time when Visual Studio 2017's features set is somewhat cast in stone and makes its public debut, ready for release to the Web and for use in production development environments. Microsoft announced a few weeks ago that the day would be marked by two days of online keynote coverage of news and updated features throughout the suite's various programming languages and frameworks and toolings, and that's happening as we post this news.

First off: To watch the livestream of the Visual Studio 2017 launch hosted by Visual Studio Corporate Vice President Julia Liuson, go to https://launch.visualstudio.com. As well, much of the launch news is being tweeted using #VS2017.

As such, there are no leaked secrets here, as features and updates of the development suite have been portioned out in the months and weeks leading up to the launch through highly publicized testing events (many via the open source community), with a major update and review at the company's Connect(); online event from New York City back in November. Still, much of what's new in this morning's announcements have to do with updates to tools that aim to increase developer productivity and performance and the current state of several VS iterations, including the Mac and Mobile Center previews, and some new benefits:

Visual Studio 2017
Microsoft's Scott Hanselman took over from Liuson to introduce lots of other key developers during the first few hours of the day's presentations, and they collectively covered lots of ground, reiterating lots of the productivity and performance enhancements with some updates: improvements to startup (new Start page) and project loading (also, project loading without the need to have a solution loaded); enhanced navigation, with a host of Go To shortcut keys for grouping, sorting, filtering and searching of references in a Results window; IntelliSense filtering; improved refactoring, style analyzers, and other C# language improvements; support for CMake and Linux (via extension) in Visual C++; live unit testing; new Run to Click in lieu of temporary breakpoints and exception helpers in a non-modal dialog for debugging; and a new, streamlined installer.

There are also a number of improvements to a slew of mobile app development tools, including the Xamarin Forms Previewer that allows side-by-side coding and design of apps; IntelliSense support for bindings, custom properties, custom control and converters while editing XAML documents in Xamarin Forms; the capability, through the new Connected Services, to connect apps to an Azure App Service backend for streamlined authentication, data syncing, storage, as well as automated service provisioning from within the VS IDE. Related to the provisioning is the simplified containerization support within Windows and Linux environments that also extends to running and debugging operations from within containers.

Visual Studio 2017 also now supports building of .NET Core ( ASP.NET Core and Entity Framework Core) 1.0 and 1.1 apps.

For some added color to these details, check out Microsoft John Montgomery's follow-up post on the Visual Studio blog here.

New benefits for Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers includes Redgate Data Tools, Enterprise DevOps Accelerator discount, and free VS 2017 training.

Redgate is a Microsoft Partner, is providing the "Core" versions of its SQL Prompt and ReadyRoll utilities to VS 2017 Enterprise developers. SQL Prompt Core is used for code completion; ReadyRoll provides migration and change management services.

The Enterprise DevOps Accelerator is aimed at medium- and large-sized companies (the target is 50 developers or more) who use sophisticated tool chains and CI/CD for enterprise app build and delivery. The offer is for 50-percent discount on those services, available until June 30.

For those who want to get up to speed on Visual Studio 2017's features, Liuson also announced that developers who download it within the first week can sign up for a 60-day trial of Visual Studio 2017 training offerings from Xamarin University.

Visual Studio Mobile Center
Originally debuting at Connect();, there has been enough work on it that the VS group has released a fairly well-formed Preview version. It's essentially a melding of many of the features from two apps that were originally acquired, HockeyApp and Xamarin Test Cloud, now intermixed with the goal of unifying the features to make the build-test-distribute mobile app lifecycle. In addition to support for  Objective-C, Swift, and Java, announced this morning was additional support for React Native and Xamarin. There's also the notion of Beacon Services, which extends the mobile app lifecycle with a number of continuous integration/deployment and automated analytics and reporting features.

For a good overview and roadmap of features that will be added in the coming months, go to this Visual Studio blog post and Mobile Center Product Roadmap doc.

Visual Studio for Mac
Also announced at Connect();, it's currently at Preview 4. This update has additional Xamarin and .NET Core workloads (including iOS Audio Unit wizard and Android binding project operations) and project templates for .NET Core, and MSBuild .NET Core project format support. Xamarin.Forms improvements include support for more controls and XAML constructs in the Previewer, and improved IntelliSense and code completion.

New is how the Mac version, like the main suite, has a feature for Connected Services, which "brings cloud capabilities, such as data storage and authentication with Azure Mobile Apps, to your mobile app with the click of a button," writes Microsoft's Miguel de Icaza, in a blog post. "Adding a service to your project will add all required dependencies and any required initialization code to your mobile targets." For more and to download the current Mac Preview, check out de Icaza's Xamarin blog.

The launch has also comes with lots of support among several companies who make up the VS development ecosystem; to see that news, see this Connection Strings post from last week.

We'll have more news to come, which we'll post as updates to this news item.

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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