A first look at Visual Studio 2019

The first preview version of Visual Studio 2019 is available since the beginning of December 2018. I decided to take a look to see what is different from the previous Visual Studio 2017 version. In this post, I will present some of the things that are new or changed in this new version.

The first thing that I stumble upon was the icon that looks different. It’s a departure from the flat Windows 8 style and the resurrection of good old beautiful icons. Below you can see on the left the icon for the release version and on the right the icon for the preview version.

The next thing to notice is the way you can get started after launching Visual Studio; you can

  • open a recent project or solution
  • clone or checkout code from GitHub or Azure DevOps
  • open a project or solution
  • open a local folder
  • create a new project

The wizard for creating a new project has also changed. The new window enables better discoverability of templates. You can filter the templates with a search term but also by language (C++, C#, F#, VB, JavaScript, etc.), platform (Windows, Azure, Android, iOS, MacOS, Linux, etc.), and project type (desktop, console, cloud, UWP, test, etc.).

The new scenario that is enabled from the open window is to clone or checkout code from publicly available URL. This enables cloning repositories such as from GitHub or Azure DevOps. In this preview version, checkout is not supported. TFS repositories are also not supported. I am not sure what the plans are but I hope that in the release version TFS and perhaps other source control systems will be added (or at least supported through extensions).

The menu and toolbars have also slightly changed. The title bar is completely gone and other controls have been rearranged. There is a new button for Live Share. This is a collaborative service that was available in Visual Studio 2017 as an extension but is now built into Visual Studio 2019. It enables developers to collaborate in real time for editing and debugging code regardless of the programming language or application type. You can learn more about it here.

Another new feature in this version is called Document Health Indicator. It appears as a small icon on the bottom right corner of the opened document and when hovered shows a summary of errors, warnings, and suggestings for the current document. The status displayed in this pop out does not depend on you actually compiling the document; it is updated as you edit it.

For C++ documents, the only actions from this indicator (when you right-click on it) are navigating to the next and previous issue in the file. However, for other languages, such as C#, there are more options. In C# files you can also run code cleanup.

Code cleanup executes a series of actions to improve your code. Among these actions are sorting using statements and removing unnecessary using statements, removing unused variables or unnecessary casts, adding or sorting accessibility modifiers, etc. You can see the current list of actions in the following image. These can be individually selected and you can choose to apply them based on your last settings without selecting them again.

The Clipboard Ring feature, that shows the history of the clipboard copies, has been redesigned. It is now available with the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + V and presents the clipboard content in a more useful way.

There are much more changes to VS 2019 than this list of IDE features. If you want to read more about the upcoming Visual Studio you should read the following articles:

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