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Visual Studio Code 1.9 Extends Tasks, Improves Markdown Support and Terminal Performance

| by Sergio De Simone Follow 7 Followers on Feb 08, 2017. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

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Following its monthly release cycle, Microsoft Visual Studio Code has reached version 1.9, which includes support for multiple-command tasks, synchronized markdown preview, faster terminal, and more.

A significant improvement to how Visual Studio Code can adapt to custom workflows comes from the ability to define tasks that can execute multiple commands. This allows developers to customize their workflow without resorting to writing shell scripts when they want to run complex tasks. For example, the following task will start the TypeScript compiler in watch mode and then run gulp:

{
    "version": "0.1.0",
    "tasks": [
        {
            "taskName": "tsc",
            "command": "tsc",
            "args": ["-w"],
            "isShellCommand": true,
            "isBackground": true,
            "problemMatcher": "$tsc-watch"
        },
        {
            "taskName": "build",
            "command": "gulp",
            "windows": {
                "args": ["build", "win32"]
            },
            "linux": {
                "args": ["build", "linux"]
            },
            "osx": {
                "args": ["build", "osx"]
            },
            "isShellCommand": true
        }
    ]
}

As the example shows, local commands allow the specification of platform specific arguments. Additionally, tasks are now executed inside of the improved Terminal frontend, thus supporting keyboard input and task parallel execution. This feature is still experimental and can be enabled by specifying a "_runner": "terminal" property in tasks.json:

{
    "version": "0.1.0",
    "_runner": "terminal",
    "tasks": [
    ...
    ]
}

On a related note, the integrated Terminal frontend has been partially rewritten with the aim to improve performance and provide a better user experience on Windows. According to the VS Code team, it is now up to five times faster and does not lock up the UI when dealing with large data.

The Markdown editor, which now displays its preview pane by default, has been substantially improved by adding simultaneous scroll for the text and HTML views, both when scrolling the editor and the preview. Furthermore, by double-clicking an element in the preview, the editor will automatically open at the corresponding location in the source file.

Visual Studio Code 1.9 also includes a new Welcome page that aims to make you start using the editor more quickly by showing a list of recent files, most common options – such as opening a folder or creating a Git repository – and quick links to frequently used features – such as color theme customization, keyboard shortcuts, and a new interactive playground section that allows you to learn and experiment with the editor features without creating a text file.

The new version of Visual Studio Code's other notable improvements include:

Visual Studio Code 1.9 includes many more changes you can read about in the release notes, as well as bug fixes.

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