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Visual Studio 15.7 Preview 4 Improves Git, C++ Support

| by Jeff Martin Follow 17 Followers on Apr 20, 2018. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

Microsoft has delivered several new previews for the forthcoming Visual Studio 2017 15.7, and based on the limited size of the changes it would seem that we are nearing its formal release.  As usual, the changes cover a wide range of territory, and therefore developers should see some benefits regardless of what languages they use.

For the first time individual components of Visual Studio can be installed on different directories.  This means the core product can be stored on an SSD for example, while the download cache and other shared components or SDKs can be stored on a different drive.  This helps manage effective usage of systems with limited disk space.  Do note that this can only be set upon the first installation of VS2017, so users with existing setups will be locked into the defaults.

Developers using "Xamarin.Forms" should notice a big improvement when editing XAML, in that the same engine is used for WPF and UWP XAML design.  That means users will benefit from all of the many features available to that engine, including light bulb suggestions, code navigation, and error checking.

C++ programmers will note increased compliance with the C++17 Standard.  Given the recent processor vulnerabilities, developers should be happy to see that Spectre mitigations are now supported by the Visual C++ runtime.  This supports mitigations for the variant 1 vulnerability and includes compiler support for non-optimized builds.  Microsoft’s Andrew Pardoe has more information on the Spectre mitigations and how Visual Studio addresses this.

Those who use Git from within VS2017 will benefit from a couple of different fixes.  While not all users are affected, they can be particularly frustrating to overcome when they do impact your workflow.  The first is correcting an issue whereby VS2017's included version of Git would not support self-signed certificates.  Next is the removal of a modal dialog that blocked use of the IDE when switching branches in Git.  Related to this is that VS2017 will no longer need to reload the open project/solution when switching between branches.

Full details of the changes are contained in the release notes (including Preview 3 & 4).  Updating to 15.7 Preview 4 can be within an existing Preview installation.  Users who are new to the preview series can download a fresh copy according to the edition they prefer (Community, Professional, or Enterprise).  As this is preview software it should not be used for production application development.

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