“Firsts” excite me. This excitement isn’t about competition with others, but rather about competition with ourselves and our past, about constantly working to better what we do and how we do it, and about the value we provide to developers and teams who use our tools. At our Visual Studio 2012 and .NET 4.5 launch event in September, I talked about our strong commitment to continuous value delivery and our new approach for providing updates to Visual Studio on a regular cadence of shorter intervals:
I’m excited to announce that the first such update, Visual Studio 2012 Update 1 (Visual Studio 2012.1), is now available. You can install it today from the download page (see “Visual Studio 2012 Update 1” under the “Additional software” section).
With this and future updates, we’re striving to ensure that developers and development teams always have the best solution for building modern applications and for managing the modern application lifecycle. This approach to delivering updates, integrated directly into the IDE, should make it much easier for developers to keep the Visual Studio client up-to-date.
Importantly, this isn’t just about bug fixes, though it contains quite a few of those to measurably address issues reported through Connect, UserVoice, and Windows Error Reporting. This update also delivers a wealth of new functionality into Visual Studio 2012. The new functionality in Update 1 primarily spans four areas of investment: Windows development, SharePoint development, agile teams, and continuous quality.
SharePoint Development. Beyond the core platform support for SharePoint development available via “Napa” and the Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio, with Visual Studio 2012 Update 1 we’ve invested in building out significant new application lifecycle management (ALM) capabilities for SharePoint applications. This work is primarily centered around multiple forms of testing: from load testing that enables the stressing of SharePoint applications with simulated load and network conditions; to performance testing that enables recording and running performance suites against SharePoint solutions; to unit testing that enables coded UI tests for simulating user interaction and that enables using the Microsoft Fakes Framework for stubbing out SharePoint dependencies in unit tests. Update 1 also updates IntelliTrace to capture SharePoint logging information, in order to provide a rich analysis experience for SharePoint applications.
Agile Teams. With Visual Studio 2012, we introduced a wealth of features to support agile teams, from stakeholders to developers to testers to project managers, and Update 1 further builds upon this focus. The update includes many usability improvements to enable user productivity while managing projects in the web-based interface for Team Foundation Server, such as with new ways to navigate around the UI, more cases where dragging and dropping is relevant, and a much improved source viewing and diffing experience. Update 1 also includes Kanban support: in addition to the existing Scrum and task board support, the Kanban support offers a new range of project tracking options, including a Kanban board and a cumulative flow diagram. In fact, Update 1 includes for Team Foundation Server most of the improvements made to Team Foundation Service in recent months. Visual Studio now also includes a new visualization feature, Code Map, which enables developers to dynamically build views of relevant areas of a code base in order to understand and navigate its relationships quickly.
Continuous Quality. Last but not least, enabling continuous quality is a key focus area for Update 1, beyond the Windows and SharePoint testing features already mentioned. This spans testing at all levels, from the management of tests to their execution. For example, code coverage is now supported for manual testing of ASP.NET applications, enabling testers to analyze which areas of a code base are used during manual testing (similar to the support already enabled for automated tests). Cross-browser testing is now supported, with the ability to record tests on Internet Explorer and later replay them with most modern browsers. Test Explorer in Visual Studio has been augmented to enable custom “traits”; these traits are specified in the tests, allowing developers to specify how tests should be grouped and run. Microsoft Test Manager has also been enhanced in several customer-requested areas, such as with support for pausing/resuming of manual test sessions and automatically creating an image log of all actions performed during an exploratory testing session.
Install Update 1 today to upgrade Visual Studio 2012 to the latest available bits. We plan to release these Visual Studio Updates regular cadence, so stay tuned for more to come.
Finally, though unrelated to Update 1, if you’re looking for even more functionality in Visual Studio 2012, consider installing the recently released and free Productivity Power Tools add-in from the Visual Studio Gallery. Created by individuals on the Visual Studio team, this is a pack of extensions focused on further streamlining the developer experience within Visual Studio 2012, with features like colorized parameter help, a custom document well, automatic brace completion, an enhanced scroll bar, and much more.
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