Microsoft kicked off its Build conference in San Francisco this week by releasing a preview of the next version of its Visual Studio IDE (integrated development environment), as well as updates to other development tools.
"If you are interested in building a modern, connected application, and are interested in using modern development lifestyles such as 'agile,' we have a fantastic set of tools that allows you to take advantage of the latest platforms," said S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate vice president in Microsoft's developer division, in an interview with IDG News Service.
Somasegar noted, for instance, how the new Visual Studio provides more tools to help developers build applications for Windows 8.1, a beta of which is also being released this week.
Microsoft is releasing a preview of Visual Studio 2013, the final version of which is due to be released by the end of the year. The company is also releasing Visual Studio 2012 update 3, and a preview of the .NET 4.5.1 runtime framework.
Many of the new features in Visual Studio 2013 address the kinds of mobile, connected applications that developers need to build these days, Somasegar said. For instance, it provides new tools to profile energy and memory usage, both of which must be considered when building applications for mobile devices. It also includes a new tool for providing metrics on how responsive an app is for users.
Visual Studio 2013 is also tackling the challenge of writing an application that relies on cloud services in some fashion. Microsoft is providing interface from Visual Studio to its Azure Mobile Services, which synchronizes data and settings for a program used across multiple Windows devices.
Visual Studio 2013 itself will also be easier to use across multiple devices. It will allow developers to define environmental preferences, or the settings and customizations for their own versions of Visual Studio, that then can be applied to other copies of the IDE. Microsoft can store these environmental settings in the cloud, so they can be downloaded to any computer connected to the Internet.
"People go through a lot of trouble to set up their environment. Once they go to a different machine, they must go through the same hoopla again to get to recreate the environment they are comfortable with," Somasegar said. "Once you set up your environment, we store those settings in the cloud, and as you go to another machine, you won't have to recreate your environment."
Another new feature, called Code Lens, provides "a class of information that, as a programmer, has been historically hard to get." It can show, for example, which part of a program is calling a particular method and what other methods that method calls. Visual Studio 2013 also expands its support for C++ 2011, the latest version of the C++ language. Visual Studio's feature for debugging the user's own code (as opposed to running a debugger against the entire set of code) now works with C++ 2011.
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