A preview of the next version of Visual Studio has been released at Microsoft's Build conference.
Visual Studio “15” (not to be confused with Visual Studio 2015) is an unsupported preview, and the developers say the range of new features is limited because much of the work has gone into laying the groundwork to make Visual Studio work with vNext, Microsoft's replacement framework that is smaller and more efficient than ASP.NET.
Some of the features that have been improved or added include XAML edit-and-continue for WPF and Universal Windows Apps; and new style analyzers for C# and Visual Basic.
The new preview has a new lightweight installer that can squeeze Visual Studio into less than 300MB of space. You can then optionally add support for other features. The more familiar installer is also included as the new installer is still at the preview stage.
This version includes the latest update of Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova, with support for Cordova 6.0.0, better build error messages and npm integration. You can now use a sandbox version and VS 15 will respect system proxy settings. One point to note is that the new version no longer supports Windows Store 8.1 projects; the recommendation is that you update your Cordova projects to target Windows 10
The Tools for Universal Windows App Development have also been updated, with an improved .NET Native toolchain that has a number of improvements to the runtime performance for managed UWP apps in Visual Studio.
The Visual C++ compiler and library have been updated with more support for C++11 and C++14 features, along with some support for features expected to be in the C++17 standard. The most notable compiler changes are support for Variable Templates and constexpr improvements.
The new SQLite-based database engine is now being used by default in the C++ IDE, which should speed up database operations like Go To Definitions and Find All References, along with improving initial solution parse time.
The improved XAML Diagnostics means you can now edit XAML while your WPF or Universal Windows App is running, and see those changes in your running app. In the code editor, you can make a change to the markup and the change will be reflected in the running app without having to recompile the application.
NuGet is another area to have received attention, with improvements including the ability to read gzip content-encoding from services; support for iOS and Android build actions in contentFiles element, and for running NuGet in Linux and Apple environments.
The debugger now lets you add conditions to the debugger configuration so you can set it up to break or throw exceptions under specific conditions such as for specific modules.
The preview includes the latest in Office developer tools and SQL Server Data Tools supporting SQL Server 2016 and Azure SQL Database. For SQL Server, you also get more database programmability, and an improved connection operation in SQL Server Data Tools, which now automatically discovers SQL Server and Azure SQL Databases. You can then connect to them with a simple click.
The Office Developer Tools have new Office Add-in templates specific to Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. The tools also add support for new Office Add-in features such as add-in commands, Fabric UI, and a new version of Office.js.