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Microsoft Visual Studio 2017 Now Available For Download

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

New edition of the developer tool promises easier building of apps, quicker bug fixes, and more collaboration

Nearly 20 years have past since Microsoft first released its integrated development environment (IDE) to the world, and now Visual Studio 2017 has hit general availability.

Visual Studio 2017 is the next major release of the IDE and it succeeds Visual Studio 2015, which was released back in July 2015.

Microsoft says the new IDE however gives developers more functionality, allowing them to build better apps for the mobile and cloud world.

openstackVisual Studio 2017

Visual Studio is a tool that is experiencing growth at the moment. Indeed, according to Julia Liuson, corporate VP, Visual Studio, the IDE has seen a 25 percent rise in monthly active users of Visual Studio, 1.3 million active monthly users of Visual Studio Code, and a two-fold increase in active users of the Mac IDEs.

“Since we released the Visual Studio 2017 Release Candidate, we’ve had nearly 700,000 downloads!” blogged Liuson. “We’ve been busy taking customer feedback and enhancing the user experience to deliver the most powerful and productive version of Visual Studio yet. We’ve also been fine-tuning the Visual studio family of tools.”

“I am excited to share that Visual Studio 2017 is generally available today,” she added, and pointed out that Cloud and mobile development were top of mind for Redmond when it built Visual Studio 2017.

Visual Studio 2017 comes in three editions: Visual Studio Community 2017 (free for students, open source and individual developers); Visual Studio Professional 2017 (for small teams) and Visual Studio Enterprise 2017 (for larger enterprise teams).

So exactly is new with Visual Studio 2017?

Well, according to Microsoft, it should help developers build apps quicker, thanks to new features such as live dependency validation. Redmond has also enhanced code navigation, IntelliSense, refactoring, and code fixes, to save the developer time and effort, regardless of language or platform.

The entire debugging and test experience has been tweaked to help the developer find and address issues as early as possible, thanks to features such as Live Unit Testing, Exception Helpers, and Run to Click.

On the cloud side, there are built-in tools to provide integration with all of .NET Core, Azure applications, services, Docker containers, and more. Collaboration has also been reworked to allow the developer to directly manage their team projects hosted by any provider, including Visual Studio Team Services, Team Foundation Server, or GitHub.

Microsoft also hopes to improve the quality mobile apps  for Android, iOS, and Windows with Xamarin’s advanced debugging, profiling tools, and unit test generation feature. Developers can also choose to develop mobile apps with Apache Cordova or build C++ cross platform libraries.

The new IDE also comes with “tons of performance enhancements” and a “brand-new workplace installer”.

Happy Birthday

It is nearly 20 years since Redmond first introduced its IDE to the world. Indeed, Visual Studio 97 was released way back on 19 March, 1997, when John Major was still Prime Minister.

And last November Microsoft finally confirmed long-standing rumours that it was bringing Visual Studio to its one-time rival on the Mac OS platform.

There is little doubt that Microsoft is a company undergoing some profound changes at the moment. It has effectively retreated from the mobile market with the retirement of Windows Phone, although its still touts Windows Mobile here.

But for the development community, perhaps the biggest surprise of late was when Redmond did the once-unthinkable, after it joined the Linux Foundation in November 2016.

Quiz: The history, products and people of Microsoft!