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Latest Advances in Visual Studio 2017 15.6 Preview

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Microsoft continues to evolve Visual Studio 2017, and the latest preview release of 15.6 shows a focus on code editing, diagnostics, and debugging.  Joining these features are a few more tweaks to the IDE’s performance when loading larger solutions and continued refinement to the tool’s C++ support.  Let’s take a look at each of these new items, including a greatly anticipated new feature for Git.

The VS2017 development time continues to focus on boosting performance as it relates to loading large solutions.  While specific benchmark data was not released, Microsoft is claiming that large C# and VB solutions will “warm load as twice as fast as before”, in theory building on the improvements provided in 15.5 thanks to greater use of parallelized solution loading.

Git users will appreciate a change to Team Explorer which adds expanded support for tags.  A new “Tags” tile allows developers to view all of the tags that may exist in a particular Git repo.  This brings useful functionality to the IDE including creating new tags, pushing tags, and creating a branch from an existing tag.  Previously, many of these operations, including pushing tags to a remote server, required the use of command line tools.

A new function, “navigate to decompiled sources”, is available on an experimental basis when using Go to Definition or Peek Definition.  This can be used to show the definition of a given referenced type or member.  Since it is still under development, it must be manually enabled in Tools | Options dialog, in the Text Editor | C# | Advanced section.  (“Search for “Enable navigation to decompiled sources (experimental)”).  Once enabled, ILSpy decompilation is used to show reconstructed method bodies.

C++ developers working with CMake based projects will appreciate Test Explorers new detection for CTest, Google Test, and Boost.Test tests.  Microsoft’s Kyle Reed detailed some changes made to VS2017’s Static Analysis of C++ code.  With 15.6, Code Analysis can now be run on a single file, a timesaver, versus previous versions which required the entire solution to rebuild first.  As an added bonus, multiple files can be selected in Solution Explorer and Code Analysis can be run on only those files.  This can represents a large time saver when working with larger solutions.

Advances in C++17 support are described by Stephan T. Lavavej.  As implementation work is always being deployed, his feature table is the most useful to keep abreast of the changes.

VS2017 15.6 Preview 2 is available for download now but as with all pre-release code this is not a “go-live” release intended for use in a production environment or to create production code.  Those interested in the full release notes or reviewing the top bug fixes included can peruse the release notes.

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