A Look at Visual Studio 2017

I spend a huge amount of my work time using the Visual Studio (VS) program. VS is a very complex set of tools that software developers can use to write computer programs.

The current version of VS is Visual Studio 2015. The next version is Visual Studio 2017. VS2017 is currently in RC (release candidate) mode, so I thought I’d take a look at it to see what’s new.

My first impression is that there are an enormous number of relatively small changes. This is both good and bad. VS is incredibly complex — I’ve used it for years but there are many things about the program I don’t know about. In fact, I don’t know any developer who knows everything about VS.

So, my point is that adding tons of additional complexity to an already complex system is a good idea only if the new features are useful.

Weirdly, when I went through the documentation that described all these hundreds of new features in VS2017, only one jumped out at me. The new feature is called “guide lines” and all it is are light gray lines that connect blocks of code. Look at this image carefully:

vs2017_guidelines

Now, if you don’t write software, your reaction is probably something like, “Seriously, some gray lines are a big deal?” Well, yes they are. When writing code, it’s easy to get blocks of code confused. Many blocks of code start with a ‘{‘ and end with a ‘}’ character. If you have complex code and forget a ‘}’ or accidentally delete one, it can take a ton of time to find the location of the messing end-block.

I also noticed that VS2017 allows you to install the three different versions (Community, Professional, Enterprise) on the same machine. It’s not clear why someone would want to do this, but OK.

vs2017_fileslocation

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