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Microsoft Updates Visual Studio 2012

The company has released the first in a series of planned Updates for its flagship IDE.

With Visual Studio 2012, Microsoft is replacing its traditional Service Pack model with a series of Updates to offer developers up-to-date tooling that supports modern development trends.

On Monday, Microsoft released its first Visual Studio 2012 Update, which is a major enhancement to the company's latest integrated development environment. The company announced its plans for regular updates as part of a new "continuous value" strategy when Visual Studio 2012 and .NET Framework 4.5 were officially launched in mid-September. The IDE and Windows 8 have been available to developers since August 15th.

"We have changed the model from a single Service Pack between major releases to a sequence of 'Updates,'" explained Microsoft Technical Fellow Brian Harry in his blog on Monday. "So you can, kind of, think of Update 1 as SP1. I suppose it's possible that, at some point, we will decide to name one of the Updates as an 'SP' but that won’t really change anything," continued Harry, program unit manager for Visual Studio 2012 Team Foundation Server. "We're shipping VS 2012 updates. We’ll ship several between VS 2012 and VS V.Next."

More than Bug Fixes
The new and enhanced features in Visual Studio 2012 Update 1 remain closely aligned with the tooling that appeared in the October Community Technology Preview. Designated CTP 3, it offered the first look at new Windows 8 diagnostics and testing features; Visual C++ 2012 development targeting Windows XP; SharePoint 2010 load and coded UI testing; and a Kanban board for project management and workflow visualization in Visual Studio 2012 Team Foundation Server.

"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," explained S. Somasegar, Microsoft corporate vice president of the Developer Division, in his blog about the release of Update 1. "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."

With Update 1, Windows Store app developers can now perform mixed-mode testing using tools that support both managed and native code. New functionality to improve diagnostics has also been added to Visual Studio 2012 such as a JavaScript Memory Analysis tool and support for debugging native C++ dump files from ARM-based systems, according to Microsoft. Update 1 also enables code analysis for Windows Phone 8 development in Visual Studio 2012 Premium and higher.

The new functionality for SharePoint development is described by Microsoft as ALM enhancements, which are centered on testing. Update 1 includes a Powershell module that enables IntelliTrace data collection for SharePoint applications. The Visual Studio Update also introduces unit testing with a SharePoint emulator enabled by the Microsoft Fakes Framework and Stubs capability in Visual Studio 2012. This functionality requires Visual Studio 2012 Ultimate and SharePoint 2010.

In addition to the agile Kanban support, Update 1 adds "most of the improvements made to Team Foundation Service in recent months" to the on-premises version of Visual Studio 2012 Team Foundation Server, according to Somasegar. The Kanban board and cumulative flow diagram first appeared in the August preview of the cloud-based Team Foundation Service, which has since been released.

Microsoft has added several test features to Update 1, including code coverage for manually testing ASP.NET apps, which was previewed in CTP 3. The company has also added more cross-browser support such as coded UI tests. Developers can now record tests on Internet Explorer and replay them on other browsers, according to Somasegar. A lot of the new testing features require Microsoft Test Manager, which interacts with Visual Studio Team Foundation Server. Microsoft Test Manager is included in Visual Studio 2012 Premium, Visual Studio 2012 Ultimate and Visual Studio Test Professional 2012.

Update 1 does not support Test Case Management in Visual Studio Team Foundation Server Web Access. That functionality was dropped from Update 1 and is now slated for Update 2.

GUI Remains Unchanged
Some developers will be disappointed that Visual Studio 2012 Update 1 does not offer any major changes to the graphical user interface. However, changes are being considered for Update 2, according to Harry, who addressed concerns about the GUI in response to a complaint on his blog earlier this month. "We didn't make any significant UI changes in Update 1 (beyond the theme support we added on Codeplex)," explained Harry. "There is some work going on to figure out what changes we can make in Update 2 that might address some of the feedback."

Visual Studio 2012 Update 1 includes feature enhancements for Visual Studio 2012, Visual Studio 2012 Team Foundation Server and Microsoft Test Manager. Charles Sterling, a Microsoft program manager for Visual Studio Team Foundation Server, offers a comprehensive list of the Update 1 functionality--and which Visual Studio products support the new features--in this Visual Studio ALM + Team Foundation Server blog.

"Updating [Visual Studio] is pretty friction free," observed Harry. "It's a 'patch' that just updates your install," he explained in his blog about the Update 1 release. "Updating TFS is a little more involved. It's actually a full new install (though it will silently uninstall the older version and install the update so it feels like a 'patch'). However, we still have some work to do to make this as seamless as possible. If you've done any customization of your TFS install (enabling https, changing ports, etc.) you will need to reapply those customizations after installing the update. We are doing work in Update 2 to detect and reapply many of the common customizations automatically."

Visual Studio 2012 Update 1 is available for download here or from within the IDE.

About the Author

Kathleen Richards is the editor of RedDevNews.com and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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