It’s a great day for developers who build for Microsoft’s platforms or rely on Microsoft’s development environment. The Redmond giant announced in January that Visual Studio 2017 would release on the 7th of March. It’s now 8th of March, and Microsoft delivered a lot more.
Visual Studio 2017
Microsoft’s incredible IDE has been around for more than two decades. Visual Studio 2017, just as every version before it, is an iteration. There’s plenty new, but most of it is merely an improvement over what was already there.
For example, there’s a new installer. That doesn’t sound very exciting, but it is. The new installer approaches Visual Studio with compartmentalization. It not only installs Visual Studio, but it also modifies it. It’s possible to add or remove features after installation. It’s possible to exclude features that you do not need. And, it does this with a clear, concise, and simple user experience.
Visual Studio 2017 also comes with a standalone file editor; this is a highly-requested feature, and Microsoft has finally listened to its developer community. The standalone editor has all the features that the normal Visual Studio editor does, but it doesn’t require the file to be part of a solution.
.NET Core is also supported with this update. It’s now possible to target applications for macOS and Linux, as well as Windows. More on that in a moment.
There’s a boat-load of features and performance improvements packed into Visual Studio 2017. Best part? It’s still free. At least for students and individual developers.
Visual Studio for Mac Preview 4
November last year, Microsoft announced that Visual Studio would be coming to macOS. The first preview was launched with the announcement, with promise for further improvements in the upcoming months.
Microsoft kept that promise; today, with the launch of Visual Studio 2017, Visual Studio for Mac Preview 4 is also released. It brings many of the new features from Visual Studio, as well as some from Visual Studio 2017.
Visual Studio for Mac now supports NuGet 4.0, and the new MSBuild .NET Core project format, which is now the default. Quite a lot of performance optimizations have been made, along with several bug fixes.
The new version also includes SDKs for all new major platforms like Android 7.1 Nougat, iOS 10.2, and watchOS 3.
Along with all of that, this release also includes all the features and fixes introduced with the Xamarin Studio 6.3.
This is possibly the most important bit for developers who want to develop for the PC rather than just Windows. Visual Studio 2017 and Visual Studio for Mac Preview 4 now support .NET Core 1.0 and 1.1.
The .NET Core is a (somewhat) slimmed-down version of the .NET runtime environment. What’s special about that? Well, it’s cross-platform and open source. Applications targeting .NET Core can execute on Linux, macOS, and Windows.
This opens up an entire world of possibilities for developers. But of course, there are some limitations. It’s not the entire .NET Framework – that wouldn’t work across platforms – so not every library is available.
Still, languages developed by Microsoft like F# and C# can be used, along with several libraries included with .NET Core.
It took Microsoft twenty years to develop an IDE as powerful and feature-rich as Visual Studio. It’s an invaluable asset and is an example of just how valuable developers are to Microsoft.
Microsoft has innovated a lot over the period of these two decades. It brought several libraries and runtimes under a single umbrella and gave birth to the 21st-century languages like C# and F#.
It’s a single development environment for everything. That’s not something you build in a day.
The improvements in Visual Studio 2017 not only represent Microsoft’s interests but also fulfills the most-demanded requests from developers. Visual Studio for Mac and .NET Core bring Microsoft’s IDE into the cross-platform world of today, where Windows is not the PC but is part of a larger ecosystem.
Once again, it’s a more open Microsoft that is considerate of its competition. That’s new, and it’s working for the benefit of the industry, rather than a company.