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InfoQ Homepage News First Look at Visual Studio “15” Preview 2

First Look at Visual Studio “15” Preview 2

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Microsoft has announced its second release of the Visual Studio “15” Preview 2.  As before, the VS15 includes a lightweight installer designed to speed up installations but there is a lot more to this second release.

Multiplatform developers will see that Preview 2 includes support for Cordova 6.1.1 as part of Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova Update 9.  One result of this switch is that Windows Store 8.1 projects are no longer supported so existing projects will need to retarget to support Windows 10.

UWP developers will be pleased to see that the .NET Native Toolchain has been improved with “over 600 bug fixes and features…” added.  Complementing this is an updated Microsoft.NETCore.UniversalWindowsPlatform package.

The C++ compiler within Visual Studio moves towards increased support for C++11, C++14, and the start of support for C++17.  Developers will note the availability of Variable Templates and better constexpr support.  Joining the language updates are bug fixes that in some cases resulted in breaking changes.  Something that should benefit all C++ developers in Preview 2 is the implementation of a new SQLite-based database engine which should improve the performance of Go To Definitions and Final All References.  (If you want to review or deactivate this change, it is available under Tools -> Options -> Text Editor -> C/C++ -> Advanced).  Android developers using C++ and VS15 will appreciate Preview 2’s support Gradle builds. 

A breaking change in Preview 2 is how project and item templates are used.  These must now be defined in a template manifest file in order to work.  If not defined accordingly, custom templates will fail. Microsoft has provided instructions on how to upgrade your templates so they will work.

The XAML tools have been improved to provide a focus tracking option that will follow the mouse pointer as it moves across different design elements.  The element under the cursor will be detailed on the Live Visual Tree.  Edit & Continue support now benefits XAML designers as changes can be made without requiring a recompile.  This ability will work for both UWP and WPF applications.

Since this remains a preview (aka alpha), a decision will have to be made upfront as to whether to try VS15 with the new lightweight installer (which is limited to .NET desktop apps, C++, Unity, and Python) or the traditional installer which includes everything.  Regardless of what method is used, it is important to remember that this is pre-release software so it should not be installed on production systems. 

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