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InfoQ Homepage News Visual Studio 15.4 Released, Increasing Multiplatform Support

Visual Studio 15.4 Released, Increasing Multiplatform Support

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The 4th update to Visual Studio 2017 has been released by Microsoft, and continues the company’s commitment to supporting .NET Standard 2.0 and Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps.  .NET Standard 2.0 support is an important part of Microsoft’s strategy for promoting cross-platform application development and code reuse.

The changes delivered in 15.4 closely adhere to the preview Microsoft provided and for the most part represent evolutionary improvements.  Within the IDE, the mouse-keyboard operation Control-Click has been changed so that holding down the Control key and then clicking over a highlighted line of code will navigate to its definition.  This new functionality is available for C#, Visual Basic, and Python.

As promised, 15.4 includes support for the .appx container introduced with Windows 10.  This provides a path for developers to take existing Win32 applications and package them into the .appx container for easier installation and management on Windows 10 based systems.  This does not require your Win32 application to become a UWP app or to otherwise utilize specific Windows 10 functionality.  However, it does make it easier to incorporate this functionality over time if desired.  This new project type is available under the New Project dialog:  Visual C# | Windows Universal | Windows Application Packaging Project.

Those looking to develop with .NET Core 2 will find it easier to do so as .NET Core 2 is available during installation and will be selected by default when either the Web Development or .NET Core Workloads are chosen.  

Windows 10 developers building UWP apps will note that 15.4 includes support for the Windows Fall Creators Update (FCU).  (As a convenience, the SDK for Fall Creators Update is included for installation when the UWP Workload is selected.)  Assuming the Fall Creators Update is installed on your Windows 10 development system, you will be able to take advantage of several improvements to the XAML editor in 15.4.  These changes include the ability to use Edit & Continue (live editing of an app’s XAML elements) while editing UWP apps and the ability to start using design elements from Microsoft’s new Fluent design language.  (Note that the FCU must be installed and targeted in your UWP app in order to benefit from the new functionality.)  Along with the new features is Microsoft’s indication that several performance enhancements have been made in an effort to make using the XAML editor faster and more productive.

Support for CMake has been added to Visual Studio 15.4.  This enables VS2017 to support CMake based projects that target any combination of Windows and Linux platforms.  The advantage is that this enables developers to use existing CMake projects without first having to convert them to a Visual Studio based project.  CMake support has been upgraded to version 3.9.

Visual Studio 2017 15.4 is available for installation now and may be downloaded through the standard web installer or from within Visual Studio itself.  In addition to the new features described above, several notable bugs were also corrected.  Full details are contained within the release notes.


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