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What's New in Visual Studio 2015?
Welcome to Visual Studio 2015, an integrated suite of developer productivity tools, cloud services, and extensions that enable you and your team to create great apps and games for the web, for Windows Store, for the desktop, for Android, and for iOS.
A new setup experience
The Visual Studio 2015 setup experience has been componentised so that you only have to install the parts that you need. This makes installation faster for many common scenarios involving .NET or Web development. If you do other types of development, such as cross-platform mobile development, or you work in C++ or F#, choose Custom installation and then choose the components and optional third-party SDKs that you require. You can also install any of the custom components later. For example, if you choose Basic installation, and then attempt to create a new C++ project, you will be prompted to download the C++ development tools.
Device Preview menu bar
In Universal Windows Platform projects, the device preview menu bar enables you to see how your XAML-based UI will render on various screen sizes.
Visual Studio Graphics Diagnostics
Since Visual Studio 2013, Visual Studio Graphics Diagnostics has added many new features, including Frame Analysis, Windows Phone support, shader edit & apply, and command line capture tools. It has also added support for debugging DirectX12 apps.
Debugging and Diagnostics
For information about what's new in debugging, see What's New for the Debugger in Visual Studio 2015.
The following are new or improved tools that perform different types of diagnosis and analysis on your code:
PerfTips display the execution time of methods during debugging, enabling you to quickly spot bottlenecks without having to invoke the profiler.
- Error List
The error list now supports filtering on any column. It also shows a live view of errors, warnings, and code analysis across your entire C# or Visual Basic solution as you type, even when a code change produces thousands of warnings. The new Error List is back-compatible with existing usage.
- GPU Usage Tool
The GPU Usage Tool helps you collect and analyze GPU usage data in DirectX apps and games and troubleshoot whether performance bottlenecks are originating in the CPU or GPU.
Live code analysis (light bulbs)
The new Roslyn compiler for C# and Visual Basic not only provides faster compile times—it also enables completely new scenarios such as live code analysis, which provide rich and customizable feedback and suggestions directly inside the code editor as you type. In Visual Studio 2015, light bulbs display in the left margin (when using the keyboard) or a tool tip (when hovering over an error with the mouse). The light bulb tells in real time that the compiler (possibly using a custom rule set) has detected an issue in your code and also has a suggestion for how to fix the issue. When you see a light bulb, click on it for actionable suggestions.
Visual Studio Extensibility Tools
It's never been easier to install the Visual Studio Extensibility Tools (VS SDK and templates) as they are now included as an optional component during setup. The Extensibility Tools allow developers to write extensions to customize and add features to Visual Studio.
If you'd like to include the Extensibility Tools with your custom installation, you can find them under Features / Common Tools / Visual Studio Extensibility Tools. You can also install the Extensibility Tools at a later time by opening the New Project dialog and selecting the Install Visual Studio Extensibility Tools item under Visual C# / Extensibility.
Sign in across multiple accounts
With Visual Studio 2015, the new streamlined sign-in experience is designed to greatly simplify your access to online resources, even when you have multiple Visual Studio accounts. After you sign-in to Visual Studio, you are automatically signed in to all instances of Visual Studio 2015 and Blend on your machine. Signing in automatically starts roaming your settings for you. In Visual Studio 2015, your account is shared across features so, as long as you have a good token, you can access your Visual Studio Online account(s) from Team Explorer, and resources and websites from your Microsoft Azure subscription in Server Explorer. You'll also see your Azure resources in the New Project Dialog for Application Insights projects, and you'll see your Azure Mobile, Azure Storage, Microsoft Office 365 and Saleforce.com developer accounts in the new Add a Connected Service dialog.
Connect to Services
Visual Studio 2015 makes it easier than ever to connect your app to services. The new Add Connected Service wizard configures your project, adds the necessary authentication support, and downloads the necessary NuGet packages to get you started coding against your service quickly and painlessly. The Add Connected Service wizard also integrates with the new Account Manager to make it easy to work with multiple user accounts and subscriptions. In Visual Studio 2015, support for the following services is provided out of the box (assuming that you have an account):
- Azure Mobile Services
- Azure Storage
- Office 365 (mail, contacts, calendars, files, users & groups)
Design your UI
The Blend experience for designing XAML user interfaces has been significantly enhanced. Blend has been completely redesigned to provide a more intuitive UI, more powerful XAML editing capabilities including IntelliSense, and better integration with Visual Studio. For more information, see Designing XAML in Visual Studio.
Cross-platform debugging support
You can use Visual Studio to create and debug native mobile apps that run on Windows, iOS, and Android devices. Use the Visual Studio Emulator for Android, or connect a device and debug your code directly in Visual Studio.
Debug Your App Built with Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova in the MSDN Library is a detailed look at Visual Studio debugging support for Cordova.
- C# / Xamarin. Use Xamarin to build native apps for Windows, iOS, and Android in Visual Studio with C#.
Debugging (iOS) and Debug on Device in the Xamarin developer guides describe the debugging experience.
- C++ / Android. Use the Visual C++ for Cross-Platform Mobile Development templates along with third-party tools like the Android NDK to create native apps for Windows and Android.
Enjoy these additional IDE improvements
- Synchronized Settings (Roaming Settings)
- Automatic Extension Updates
- Title Case Menus
- High Resolution Images and Touch Support
- Custom Layouts
- Notification Hub
- CodeLens: Find what happened to your code (Enterprise and Professional editions only)
- Design and modeling tools (Enterprise edition only)
Choose your target platform(s)
Visual Studio 2015 supports cross-platform mobile device development. You can write apps and games that target iOS, Android, and Windows and share a common code base, all from within the Visual Studio IDE. You'll see all these new project types in the File, New Project dialog.
And—of course—support for classic desktop applications is better than ever, with lots of improvements to languages, libraries, and tools.
- Cross-platform mobile apps in C# with Xamarin for Visual Studio
Xamarin is a mobile framework that enables you to write code in C# that binds natively to iOS and Android APIs. Microsoft has partnered closely with Xamarin on their release of Xamarin for Visual Studio, an extension that enables you to develop for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone in a single solution with shared code. With Xamarin, you'll use one language and one code base with minimal deltas between the platforms. Xamarin for Visual Studio is supported on Visual Studio 2010 and later. The starter edition of Xamarin is is included in Visual Studio 2015.
- Cross-platform mobile games in C# with Unity
Unity is a widely-used platform for multiplatform 2D and 3D game development. You can write your game in C# and run it natively on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and many other platforms. Visual Studio Tools for Unity is an extension that integrates Unity with the Visual Studio IDE. With this extension, you get all the features of the Visual Studio IDE and debugger, in addition to productivity features that are designed for Unity developers. Visual Studio Tools for Unity 2.0 Preview 2 adds support for Visual Studio 2015, in addition to a number of new features, such as better visualization for objects in the Locals and Watch windows. Microsoft has recently acquired SyntaxTree, the creators of Visual Studio Tools for Unity. To download Visual Studio Tools for Unity 2.0 Preview 2, and for more information about Visual Studio Tools for Unity.
- Cross-platform apps and libraries for native C++
C++ is a language available natively across most mobile devices. You can use it to write cross-platform shared code libraries that can be built for multiple mobile platform targets. You can even create whole mobile apps in C++. Visual C++ gives you the tools to edit, build, deploy, and debug your cross-platform code. In addition to templates for Windows apps, you can create projects from templates for Android Native Activity apps, iOS apps, or shared code library projects for multiple platforms that include Xamarin hybrid apps. Platform-specific IntelliSense enables you to explore APIs and generate correct code for Android, iOS, or Windows targets. You can configure your build for x86 or ARM native platforms, and deploy your code to an iOS simulator or to iOS devices on a network-attached Mac, to directly attached Android devices, or use the performant Microsoft Visual Studio Emulator for Android for testing. You can set breakpoints, watch variables, view the stack and step through C++ code in the Visual Studio debugger. You can share all except the most platform-specific code across multiple app platforms, and build for them all with one solution in Visual Studio.
- Universal Windows apps for any Windows 10 device
With the Universal Windows Platform and our one Windows core, you can run the same app on any Windows 10 device from phones to desktops. Create these Universal Windows apps with Visual Studio 2015 and the Universal Windows App Development tools.
Run your app on a Windows 10 phone, a Windows 10 desktop, or an Xbox. It's the same app package! With the introduction of the Windows 10 single, unified core, one app package can run across all platforms. Several platforms have Extension SDKs that you can add to your app to take advantage of platform specific behaviors. For example, an extension SDK for mobile handles the back button being pressed on a Windows phone. If you reference an Extension SDK in your project, then just add runtime checks to test if that SDK is available on that platform. That's how you can have the same app package for each platform!
ASP.NET 5 is a major update to MVC, WebAPI and SignalR, and runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. ASP.NET 5 has been designed from the ground up to provide you with a lean and composable .NET stack for building modern cloud-based apps. The Visual Studio 2015 tooling is more closely integrated with popular web development tools such as Bower and Grunt. To get started, see the many blog posts on the NET Web Development and Tools Blog.
- Classic desktop and Windows Store
Visual Studio 2015 continues to support classic desktop and Windows Store development. As Windows evolves, Visual Studio will evolve along with it. In Visual Studio 2015, the libraries and languages for .NET as well as C++ have made significant advances that are applicable to all versions of Windows.
- The .NET Framework
The Microsoft .NET Framework 4.6 offers about 150 new APIs and 50 updated APIs to enable more scenarios. For example, more collections now implement IReadOnlyCollection<T> making them easier to use. In addition, ASP.NET 5, mentioned previously, offers a lean .NET platform for building modern cloud-based apps.
Windows Store apps written in C# that target the .NET Framework can now take advantage of .NET Native, which compiles apps to native code rather than IL, and .NET Framework 4.6 also adds RyuJIT, a 64-bit Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler.
The new C# and VB compilers ("Roslyn") significantly speed up compile times and provide comprehensive code analysis APIs. Visual Studio 2015 takes advantage of Roslyn to provide more refactorings including inline rename, analyzers, and quick fixes.
The C# and Visual Basic languages both contain many smallish improvements in the core language and in IDE support. These improvements all add up to make your .NET coding experience even more intuitive, convenient, and productive.
Visual C++ provides significant advances in C++11/14 language conformance, support for cross-platform mobile device development, support for resumable functions and await (currently planned for standardization in C++17), improvements and bug fixes in the C Runtime Library (CRT) and C++ standard library (STL) implementations, resizeable dialogs in MFC, new compiler optimisations, better build performance, new diagnostics capabilities and new productivity tools in the code editor.
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