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Blend Moves Closer to Visual Studio

| by Jeff Martin Follow 16 Followers on Nov 20, 2014. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |

As part of the Visual Studio 2015 suite, Microsoft has updated the bundled Blend application.  Blend is Microsoft's tool for designing XAML-based applications.  For the preview of the forthcoming 2015 edition, Microsoft Program Manager Kino Aguilar has described some of the new features users will find.

The big news for current users of Blend may be what is not being included with Blend 2015.  The first change is that HTML coders are directed to use VS2015 for their HTML needs as Blend focuses on XAML.  The second change is the removal of SketchFlow.  While it may make sense to have a single HTML editing environment, the removal of SketchFlow leaves no direct 2015-era replacement.  For those needing SketchFlow, Anguilar suggests VS Community 2013

So what does Blend 2015 provide?  For starters, the UI has been updated to use a revised darker theme to make it more consistent with what is offered in Visual Studio.  It is Microsoft’s hope that this darker palette will provide greater emphasis for the project being designed.  Editing XAML has received a boost with IntelliSense support.  Complimenting this is support for basic debugging in within Blend and addition of Peek in XAML.  This is similar to Visual Studio’s Peek Definition ability and allows developers to use a pop-up window within the editor to examine code located elsewhere.  This ability eliminates the need to change the active file and risk losing the context of the edit.

Since Blend is designed to be paired part of the overall Visual Studio development process, Blend can now be configured to automatically reload project files when switching between VS and Blend.  This saves time and reduces errors, especially if a distraction occurred and caused you to forget you are not editing the most recent file.

Solution Explorer and Team Explorer have also been improved to reflect Blend’s role.  For example, Git and TFS repositories can be managed within Blend similar to today’s process in Visual Studio.  NuGet also joins Blend, so that NuGet packages can be managed within it without having to resort to switching back to Visual Studio.

Blend 2015 can tried today by downloading the Visual Studio 2015 Preview.

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