Visual Studio “14” CTP3: PerfTips and the IDE

by Jeff Martin on Aug 25, 2014 |

The third installment of the “14” preview targets several major areas for improvement, including ASP.NET, the editor itself, and a brand new way to troubleshoot application performance.  The first area is ASP.NET and vNext improvements, which InfoQ described Friday.

The next area involves some minor tweaks to the user interface.  Added to a user’s roaming profile is details regarding custom window layout positioning.  For those developers who have customized their layout to a certain workflow, they will be pleased to know that these customizations will travel to whatever workstation that they have logged into.

Manage Window Layouts dialog

CTP3 also reflects work being done to improve the appearance of the editor for developers using high-resolution displays.  Improved support for high-resolution screens with the inclusion of high resolution icons, which should improve appearances and usability when DPI exceeds 100%.

Improving application performance is an important goal for most programmers, but business demands can reduce the time available for refinement.  CTP3 introduces a new editor feature called PerfTips which is intended to minimize if not eliminate the barrier between writing code and performance monitoring.  At its simplest, PerfTips works by displaying execution time for a method directly in the editor when running a program from breakpoint to breakpoint in the debugger.  The following screenshot shows PerfTips in action:

PerfTips in operation on a C# code sample

As Microsoft’s Dan Taylor says, “… any time that you are stopped on a line of code in the debugger, the debugger will show a PerfTip on that line of code if there are any functions on the call stack that were also on the call stack when the program was last started or resumed.”  PerfTips won’t replace the functionality in the Performance and Dianostics hub, since that tool can analyze code set for Release mode without the overhead of the debugger, but it will let developers quickly pick out code with high execution times that merit immediate attention.

PerfTips is currently slated for VS Professional or higher (subject to final decision by Microsoft’s release plans) and supports .NET languages, native C++, and JavaScript.  Per Taylor, PerfTips does not support legacy debuggers so managed C++ code cannot be troubleshooted.

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