Case Study

Dave Davis Published in SDTimes: Visual Studio 2015, An Insider’s Review

Microsoft has made many moves in 2015, with each step proving it is not the Microsoft of old. The company is embracing change, from open-sourcing parts of the .NET framework, to building applications for competing platforms—sometimes before their own platforms. This year we are getting a new version of Windows, both desktop and mobile, and a new version of Office.

Azure has been rapidly advancing, continually adding features each quarter. Visual Studio has advanced as well, giving developers tools to keep up with the rapidly changing environment.

A couple years ago, Microsoft boosted the cadence of delivery. Recently, Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s COO, told partners that Windows 10 will be that last major release of Windows. From now on, new functionality will be delivered via updates.

The Visual Studio Team started working with this new cadence with Visual Studio 2013. Each quarter they add more and more functionality. One of the side benefits of this new delivery cadence is the openness of what they are developing and the willingness to accept feedback from users. This feedback, and Microsoft’s mobile-first, cloud-first strategy, is a major departure from the Microsoft of old.

In order to gather user feedback, Microsoft has had to change how often it gets working software into the hands of the users. It created the Windows Insider program to allow users to evaluate the changes that Microsoft is making and provide valuable feedback. And alongside the frequent builds of Windows, Microsoft has been releasing builds of the next version of Visual Studio.

Visual Studio has been around for years, and with each release, Microsoft makes major improvements, keying in on improving developer productivity, enhancing team productivity, and allowing for the rapid development of applications. Some think that Visual Studio has gotten so big and bloated that it can’t handle some of the simpler development tasks. (I tend to agree, but more on that later.) Some think that Visual Studio can’t handle working in the open-source arena. This may have been true in the past, but along comes Visual Studio 2015 to change reality.

Is the 2015 release perfect? No, but it is a long way from where it started. Besides, if it were perfect there would be no need for third-party add-ons like ReSharper from JetBrains. But with each version of Visual Studio, you can see features from the various add-ons get added in the development environment. Microsoft understands that developers use these add-ons for a reason. Once again, feedback is being factored in the decisions Microsoft’s engineers make about the platform.

I was eager to see what the Visual Studio team had in store for the next version. I am currently running the Enterprise (formerly known as Ultimate) RC version, and this is the version that I will be making my observations about. I mainly do mobile and desktop development in addition to some Web development. I focus mainly on the Microsoft platform, but recently I got my Xamarin certification. So I am starting to branch out into cross-platform as well.

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