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Visual Studio 2019 Gets Closer with Preview 2

Visual Studio 2019 is expected to ship in the first half of this year, and it just took another step on that journey with the release of its second preview.

Visual Studio 2019 Preview 2 -- in addition to enhancements to various development areas such as C#, Python, Web/container and so on -- has several tweaks designed to improve the "core IDE experience," said Angel Zhou, program manager, Visual Studio, in a blog post today (Jan. 24).

These include:

  • The IDE will automatically download updates in the background while a computer is idle, so developers can continue using it until installation time.
  • The Per-Monitor Awareness (PMA) feature that debuted in Preview 1 is now enabled by default for users who meet the system requirements of .NET Framework 4.8 and Windows 10 April 2018 Update. "Alongside the core IDE, multiple tool windows such as Toolbox, Breakpoints, Watch, Locals, Autos, and Call Stack should now render sharply across monitors with different display and scale configurations," Zhou said.
  • Search functionality is improved in the start window and inside the IDE. "In the start window, you can now search for project templates by language, platform, and tags via the search box. Preview 2 introduces filters for menus, components, and templates during search in the IDE, as well as the capability to create and add new projects and items directly from the search box."
  • Responding to developer feedback, the team updated the new blue theme in Visual Studio 2019, reducing luminosity and increasing contrast. "The draggable region has been improved as well by making the toolbar region also draggable. As a result, dragging the Visual Studio 2019 window should now be more natural."
  • Another feature introduced in Preview 1, document health, has been upgraded so developers can instantly see how many errors or warnings a document has, with the full error list available at a click of the control. "Code cleanup, which was introduced in Preview 1, has also been given its own control to quickly access the code cleanup features."

A few other details of note called out by Zhou for different development areas include:

  • C++ development: There are several new features here, including: a fresh version of the MSVC compiler; better CMake integration; and numerous productivity improvements.
  • C# development: C# 8.0 pattern matching now allows recursive patterns to dig into the structure of an object, and switch expressions (lightweight expression version of switch statements).
  • F# development: The new preview itself includes a preview of the F# 4.6 programming language. "Additionally, we've revamped how the F# language service is initialized by Roslyn, which should result in a consistently faster solution load time for larger solutions."
  • .NET development: "Visual Studio 2019 Preview 2 brings a range of new refactoring and codefix capabilities, such as sync namespace and folder name, pull members up, invert conditional expressions/logical operations, and many more. We're also gradually rolling out new classification colors which are similar to Visual Studio Code."
  • Python development: It's now easier to switch between different Python interpreters via a new Python Environments toolbar. Miniconda is available as an optional component during installation so there's no need to separately install it in order to create conda environments.
  • Web and container development: Visual Studio Kubernetes Tools are now integrated in the Azure development workload to ease installation. Node.js developers now have JavaScript debugging for unit tests. The preview supports debugging ASP.NET Core applications using Alpine as a base image, along with support for the latest ASP.NET and .NET Core images.
  • Mobile .NET development: Preview 2 improves build performance for developers using Xamarin.Android 9.1.1 or higher. Other new features include:
    • Xamarin.Android now supports the latest Android dex compiler (d8) and code shrinker (r8).
    • The Android designer now natively supports Android Pie (9.0) and will show improved status when loading.
    • Developers can also use Go-To-Definition (Ctrl + Click) on resource URLs to navigate to the file or line where they are defined.
    • A new property panel has been added for Xamarin.Forms, letting coders edit common attributes for controls.
    • The Xamarin.Forms templates now use the latest Xamarin.Forms 4.0 release and include a new Xamarin.Forms Shell app to reduce the complexity of a multi-platform app solution.
    • Load performance for new projects has been improved, with performance gains of up to 50 percent.
    • Developers can now see more detailed build progress information by clicking the background tasks icon in the bottom left of the IDE.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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