First update for Visual Studio 2012
With the release of a first update for Visual Studio 2012, Microsoft has kept its promise to shorten the update cycle for the latest version of the development environment. The final version of Visual Studio 2012 was released back in August. Shortly afterwards, it was announced that Microsoft planned to release more regular updates for the IDE. The first service pack for the previous version, Visual Studio 2010, was released almost a year after its final version.
According to the head of Microsoft's Developer Division, S. Somasegar, the updates will provide developers with bug fixes as well as various new features for the development environment. Among the new additions introduced with the first update are features that will help developers create Windows Store applications, including debugging functions for apps that were written in both managed and native code, and for ARM-based apps. Microsoft also mentions improved diagnostic and test features for Windows 8 apps.
Static code analysis options are now available when developing apps for Windows Phone 8. However, the IDE improvements focus not only on the new operating systems, they also allow, for example, C++ programmers to write code for Windows XP systems, which widens the scope of the development environment that originally required Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2012.
Visual Studio 2012 now supports the development of code for SharePoint 2013. Development features for SharePoint programs include new performance and UI tools (for example Lasttests, IntelliTrace for SharePoint and mock object testing via the Microsoft Fakes framework); new test options are also available for ASP.NET and HTML applications. Furthermore, the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) area includes new tools for creating Kanban boards and flow diagrams.
As they did for Visual Studio 2010, the developers have released "Productivity Power Tools" in addition to the official update. Some of these tools were integrated into Visual Studio 2012, for example the revised Solution Explorer, the improved Add Reference dialogue and the new search features. However, others have been missing in the finished product; these and various new additions have now been released as another free add-on. Among the new features is a Quick Task function that allows commands to be executed right in the Quick Launch dialogue. The previously separate "Colour Printing" add-on (for printing source code in colour) has now become a part of the Productivity Power Tools.
The update is available free of charge as a web installer for all versions of Visual Studio 2012. Instructions on how to install it in offline mode are available in a blog post on the Microsoft Developer Network. If everything goes according to Microsoft's schedule, the current release cycle should produce a second update in February.