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The Emergence of Visual Studio 2013

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This week’s arrival of TechEd 2013 brings the first official news about V.Next, the successor to Visual Studio 2012.  The next version is officially titled Visual Studio 2013 and is expected to be released later this year (although nothing specific has been confirmed).  Preview editions of VS2013 and TFS2013 are scheduled to be provided to attendees of Build 2013 later this month.  Microsoft’s Brian Harry has provided the first glimpse of what developers can expect in the next version, along with a promise of more details to come. 

TFS2013 is adding a feature called “work breakdown” which allows finer organizational levels of product backlog items.  This allows users to monitor the backlog at a level appropriate to their needs: project managers can see a broad summary while developers can focus on items specific to their work at hand.  This feature is available for use today on Team Foundation Service.

Based on this User Voice request, VS2013 will have a new Team Explorer window that can also be docked where desired.  Editing code in the primary editor window now provides additional feedback via form of code annotations.  For example, the number of times a method is used in a project is displayed above that method, with a pop-up bubble providing additional details.  These details aren’t actually in the source file, but are provided live on-screen during editing.  Similarly, test methods are annotated to provide more immediate graphical feedback as to their success or failure inline with the test method definition.  Finally, source control commit messages can also be displayed for methods when hovering over them with the mouse.  For example, hovering over a method could show the recent version history: edited on 4/1 for bug fix, edited 3/29 to add new feature, etc.

Interestingly enough, Harry remarked that Microsoft considers VS2013 to be already be stable enough in its current state to label it “go-live” and noted that it is being used in production environments at Microsoft.  Given that VS2013 is following so closely upon the release of VS2012 and that it already possesses this level of stability suggests that VS is now truly under continuous development.  This provides Microsoft the ability to arbitrarily decide when a new major release is warranted based on either business or development requirements.

To support users across this rapid deployment cycle, Harry states that the project round-tripping feature will be maintained for VS2013.  While this will not work for all project types, the majority are expected to be supported.  This means projects created in VS2010 could be edited in VS2013 by one developer and edited by VS2010 by a different developer.  (Similar behavior for VS2012 projects under VS2013.)  As before this requires users of the newer editions to not introduce new-version specific features as these would break compatibility with the older editions.

Information on the level of C++11 support will be released at Build.  While not a formal promise per se, Harry gives a strong commitment to deliver the long desired Team Project Rename feature by the next major release of VS.  (Which would be VS2013+1 at the latest.)

VS2013 will require Windows 7 or higher matching the current VS2012 requirements.

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