Announcing New ASP.NET Core and Web Development Features in Visual Studio 2017

We are pleased to announce updates to our ASP.NET tools, ASP.NET Core tools, Container tools, and frameworks that are shipping as part of the Visual Studio 2017 release today.  We have made significant updates to the web development tools to make them easier for you to use and help make you more productive in your daily web development tasks.

ASP.NET Core Tooling

As part of this release, we are including an RTM version of the ASP.NET Core tools.  Visual Studio 2015 included preview tooling based on project.json that supported the 1.0 and 1.1 versions of the ASP.NET Core framework. Visual Studio 2017 and it’s .csproj tooling is the tooling for ASP.NET Core moving forward. Customers should plan to migrate their applications to the new .csproj tooling.

With Visual Studio 2017, we have delivered updates that complete the experience for ASP.NET Core developers.  ASP.NET Core is available in the Web and .NET Core sections of new projects:

File - New - Project

File – New – Project

 

The new ASP.NET Core project template screen has some minor updates, and still makes available the choice of three web templates: Empty, API, and Web Application

New Project Template

New Project Template

You can now choose to use ASP.NET Core 1.0 or 1.1 using the combo-box at the top of the screen.  Additionally, you can choose to add Container support to your project with the checkbox at the bottom-left of the screen.  This option adds:

  • Docker files to your project for building Container images
  • a Docker Compose project to define how you instance your Containers
  • Multi-project/container debugging support for Containers.

Default Web Application Project Structure

Default Web Application Project Structure

We are now shipping templates with the following features:

  • Bower enabled by default, delivering the bootstrap, jQuery, and jQuery validation libraries and added to the wwwroot/lib folder by default.
  • We removed the package.json file for npm integration
  • We removed gulpfile.js file for JavaScript task processing.

Existing projects using npm, grunt, or gulp will continue to enjoy the features we added for those frameworks, including the npm package management experience and the Task Runner Explorer. npm, Gulp, and Grunt features can still be added and enabled on new projects.  We now ship with a bundleconfig.json that activates the simplified resource bundler.  More information about configuring the bundler can be found on the extension’s GitHub wiki.

.NET Core csproj Support

Starting with Visual Studio 2017 and the .NET Core SDK 1.0 release, we exclusively support the updated MSBuild file format.  If you have an older project that uses the project.json format, it will be converted to the new format the first time you open it with Visual Studio 2017.

In the csproj project file for your project you will notice a dramatic simplification of the project references.

In particular, the project file now has the following features activated by default:

  • An “Sdk” attribute on the Project root-element that is set to “Microsoft.NET.Sdk.Web”. This instructs the project system to manage this project with tooling to support an ASP.NET Core project that delivers a web endpoint with appropriate defaults.
  • A collection of “PackageReference” elements. These items are NuGet packages that should be installed and referenced by our project.  The packages.config file is no longer needed.
  • A collection of “DotNetCliToolReference” elements. These items enhance the dotnet command-line tool to give it features necessary to build and manage this project.  In the sample above, it enables the Entity Framework tools and the User Secret manager.

New DotNet New Templates

The dotnet command-line tool has new templates for the creation of new .NET Core projects.  When you run “dotnet new” now, you will see a selection of templates that you can choose from:

dotnet new templates

dotnet new templates

This now makes it very easy to understand the project templates that are available, and the languages that are supported for each.  Additionally, it is very easy to create your own templates or download other templates to use.  Instructions for building your own templates are on the project templates wiki.  An in-depth walk-through of the dotnet new experience can be found on the .NET Blog.

Debug Your Applications with Google Chrome

Visual Studio has supported client-side JavaScript debugging with Internet Explorer for a long time.  With Visual Studio 2017, you can now add the Google Chrome browser to the list of supported client-side debuggers.  If you use Google Chrome as your browser at Debug time, you will be able to hit breakpoints and step through the JavaScript and TypeScript code executing in the browser.  More details about this feature are in the client-side debugging announcement blog post.

Container Tooling Updates

Containers are now easier than ever to use with your projects in Visual Studio 2017.  For your ASP.NET Core projects, you can choose to add Docker container support at project creation time, and you can also add Docker support to your existing projects by right-clicking on the project in the Solution Explorer and choosing the Add – Docker Support menu option.

To make it easier to work with single and multiple projects, we moved the docker-compose configuration to a separate project in your solution explorer.

Docker Compose Project

Docker Compose Project

If you want to debug your project inside of the container, set the docker-compose project as the startup project.  You can still set your project as the startup project and debug on your local machine without effecting any containers.

Since we are using a standard docker-compose file, you are free to add other containers into the mix that should be launched when you debug your solution.  Add your favorite database, load-balancer, or other service images into your docker-compose to allow you to work with those resources while you debug your ASP.NET application. Those additional containers may be written in other languages, but you can still instance them during your debugging session.

When compiling your code, you can now build your solution directly in a Docker container, representing how your build system can compile your code. Running the following code will volume mount your solution, execute “dotnet restore” and “dotnet publish” in the container, generating the compiled output to place in your optimized Docker images.

docker-compose -f docker-compose.ci.build.yml up

ASP.NET with Windows Container Support

We didn’t limit our support for Docker containers to only the ASP.NET Core projects, we’ve added support for ASP.NET (.NET Framework) applications as well.  You can use the same commands to add Windows container support to your favorite ASP.NET Web Forms, MVC, or Web API projects easily.  These applications will launch and run inside of a Windows container that is configured with IIS and the latest version of the .NET Framework.

Before you can run .NET Framework in Windows Containers locally, make sure that you have the latest version of Docker for Windows and that you have switched to Windows Containers using the Docker systray icon.

Publish Your Application

When it comes time to publish your application, you will find a greatly improved experience when you choose the Publish action on your project.

Publish Your Project

Publish Your Project

You can now choose to publish to the following locations:

  • Azure App Service, including Linux Container Deployments (if Docker is enabled for your ASP.NET Core project)
  • IIS, FTP
  • A folder
  • An Azure Virtual Machine

If you have your application configured with Docker support, the publish option will allow you to publish your application as a container to your own Azure Container Registry and deploy to Azure App Service Linux using containers.

Options for Publication to Azure App Service

Options for Publication to Azure App Service

Publishing to your own container registry makes it easier for you to re-use your container to deploy new versions or more instances easily.

Recommended Visual Studio Extensions

There are two extensions that we recommend adding to your Visual Studio 2017 installation to assist with ASP.NET Core application development:

  • The Project File Tools extension provides intellisense for NuGet packages when hand-editing a csproj file
  • The Razor Language Service provides intellisense, syntax highlighting, and tooltip support for ASP.NET Core Razor Tag Helpers in Visual Studio 2017

To learn more about ASP.NET Core and Razor Tag Helpers, see the Intoduction to Tag Helpers in ASP.NET Core on the doc.microsoft.com website. To create your own custom Tag Helpers, see Introduction to Authoring Tag Helpers in ASP.NET Core.

Additionally, the new Web Essentials 2017 extension pack includes both of these extensions and a number of other helpful tools for any web developer.

Summary

Visual Studio 2017 is here and has the tools you need to be an effective web developer with ASP.NET, ASP.NET Core, and Docker container support.  Visual Studio Community is available for free to hobbyists and small companies with limitations, download a copy and get started being a more productive web developer today.