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Latest Preview of Visual Studio “14” Exhibits Growing Pains

by Jeff Martin on Oct 08, 2014 |

The latest preview of Visual Studio “14” (VS14), Community Technology Preview 4, brings some features that have been under separate development into VS14 proper.  The result presents a good look at where Visual Studio is headed, but this CTP seems to have a higher number of rough edges when compared to previous releases.  As a result, be sure to only install this release in a test environment or VM.

Bundled with “14” for the first time is the new 64-bit JIT compiler for .NET languages.  Previously previewed with the codename “RyuJIT”, this compiler is designed to bring significant performance improvements to all CLR-basde code, simply by running it on this new JIT.  However the release notes for CTP4 observe that there remain bugs and it may be necessary to revert to previous JIT compiler.  Symptoms that would favor reversion are:

  • An application throws an InvalidProgramException error.
  • An application works on an x86-based computer but not on an x64-based computer.

The release notes’ “CLR” section under “Known Issues” provides several workaround strategies should the above occur.

Debugging promises to be improved with better C++ debugging speed and better handling for using the Watch and Immediate windows to call functions.  All languages are provided with increased use of the Peek windows during debugging.  CTP4 adds a new Peek window that can display during debugging:

Much work has been done to support ASP.NET vNext in this release.  Some helpful changes include a global.json file stored at the solution level which should improve project-to-project references.  The file file layout of vNext projects is still a work in progress:  while a new structure has been incorporated, not all areas of the IDE seem to be aware of the change.  For example, an empty and unneeded project folder is created under the solution folder when creating a new vNext project that can be removed.  When adding a new vNext project to an existing solution, the IDE will use the solution folder to store files instead of the src folder.  The default structure for a new ASP.NET vNext web application is shown here:

Beyond the limitations noted above, Microsoft notes that Visual Studio cannot run the Windows App Certification Kit on Windows 10 Technical Preview. 

Given the number of changes presented in this release it will be important for project managers and developers to review how the new release will affect their development processes.  In addition to prebuilt VS14 CTP4 virtual machines on Azure, the traditional web installers and ISO images are available.

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