Visual Studio 11 Preview is Now Available

| by Jonathan Allen Follow 388 Followers on Sep 15, 2011. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes |

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The Visual Studio 11 preview is now available for MSDN subscribers with a general release planned in the next few days. Here is a brief summary of the features they are showing off at Build.

General Notes

Visual Studio 11 uses the same project and solution format as Visual Studio 10 so you don’t have to worry about converting files.

There is two versions available. The MSDN/general release runs on Windows 7. There is also an express version bundled with the Windows 8 preview. This version has additional support for Metro style applications.


All of the features from Power Productivity Tools have been incorporated into Visual Studio 11.

The toolbars have been greatly reduced. By default there is a single row with about a dozen buttons.

There are 4000 commands in Visual Studio. To make it easier to find the one you need there is now a search box in the toolbar. Simply type the name of the command you need and it will be displayed along with its keyboard shortcut.


Visual Basic and C# are being shipped with the async/await keywords.

The “find matching clones” looks for duplicated code. This is not a textual search, it actually strips out variable names and constants and performs comparisons against the syntax tree.


Support for C++ AMP (Accelerated Massive Parallelism) is included out of the box.

Device drivers can now be developed within Visual Studio. All of the normal features such as project templates are included.


A lot of resources are needed for packaging an application for the Windows or Windows Phone app store. To make that process easier the UI will now perform basic validation on things such as image sizes.


Remote and simulator debugging have both been improved.

The Windows Kernel Debugger now runs inside Visual Studio.

IntelliTrace can be used against an application running in a production environment. While still considered a last resort, this can be used to diagnose particularly difficult problems. The Visual Studio debugger itself isn’t attached to the running application. Instead a trace file is created and then shipped to the developer for analysis.


While not a design tool, Visual Studio 11 does include tools for working with 3D rendered models. One view allows you to interact with the rendered image. Another view shows the rendering pipeline so that you can see how each step affects the final image.


The new test runner will work with all third party unit testing frameworks including xUnit and NUnit. Both native and .NET test projects are supported. One of the requirements for the new test runner and C++ unit testing framework is support for 200,000 tests in a single solution.

For testing Azure, there is now a “service configuration” option in the deployment project properties. This allows you to select which target environment on Azure you wish to deploy to such as production, staging, etc.

Static Analysis

The static analysis tools needed for validating Windows Drivers and Metro applications are now included within Visual Studio.


Visual Studio now uses IE’s JavaScript Engine.

IntelliSense features such as Go TO Definition have been added.

The DOM explorer from IE has been incorporated into Visual Studio. Selecting on a node will not only highlight it in the rendered page and the DOM tree, but also in the MVC source code that created it.

Instead of referencing individual CSS and JavaScript files, pages can now reference whole directories. On the server the directory will be bundled into a single file and minified to reduce the time it takes to deliver to the browser.


The Expression Blend design engine is now running inside Visual Studio. The experience is still focused on developers rather than designers but the incompatibility issues that plagued VS 2010/Blend 4 are now gone.

Note: Expression Blend for HTML is currently only available for Metro-style applications. In the future they are looking to extend it to work for normal HTML development.

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F# 3.0 Preview is also included by Faisal Waris

The new big feature is Type Providers.

TypeProviders is a way of getting type information - at compile time - from other sources such as databases, oData services, WSDL services, etc.

Type information for external sources means you can write the code using intellisense and type checking without doing a lot of extra work such as code generation. Useful when using F# Interactive (i.e. REPL).

Checking out other features...

Re: F# 3.0 Preview is also included by Faisal Waris

Don Syme's F# 3.0 Build talk is now online:

Definitely worth watching. Its a eye opener on what statically typed languages can do.

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Allowed html: a,b,br,blockquote,i,li,pre,u,ul,p

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