A summary of the changes introduced in Visual Studio 2017
Part four of a four-part series of blogs

Visual Studio 2017 includes some clever new quick coding features, better debugging and a much better installation routine, as this blog explains.

  1. Installing and using Visual Studio 2017
  2. Installing Visual Studio 2017
  3. Installing SQL Server Data Tools for VS 2017
  4. Changes in Visual Studio 2017 (this blog)

Posted by Andy Brown on 19 January 2018

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Changes in Visual Studio 2017

This is absolutely NOT a definitive list of every new feature introduced in Visual Studio 2017 (for that you can go to the Microsoft site).

In particular, you won't see any mention in this blog of things like unit testing or refactoring, or other tools aimed at die-hard programmers.

What this blog will do is give a feel for the main changes you'll notice when you use Visual Studio 2017, to help you decide if the upgrade is worth while.

Changes to extension management

The first thing I saw on opening VS 2017 was this suggestion:

Visual Studio extensions

Microsoft trying to help me ...

Here's what clicking on the top link showed:

Suggested extensions

The suggested extensions - clicking on the more info link takes you to a web page.

Extensions now load on demand, and you have much more control over how they impact on performance.  You can also set up roaming extensions, which are stored in the cloud and installed wherever and whenever you log in to Visual Studio.

Faster loading

Well, that's what Microsoft say.  On my Dell Precision 7720 running Windows 10 and loading up an ASP.NET MVC website, I found these times (running VS in administration mode in each case):

Task VS 2015 VS 2017
Loading software 5 seconds 3 seconds
Opening website 6 seconds 7 seconds
Debugging pre-built MVC website 8 seconds 10 seconds

All of the timings were fairly rough and ready, but what this shows is that you're not going to speed things up enormously if you upgrade to Visual Studio 2017.

New diagnostics window

There's a new diagnostics window which appears when you debug a project:

Diagnostics tools

This window appears when you start debugging.

 

Better exception handling

When an error occurs, you can see more about it:

Exception window

I have an error!

Clicking on View Details above shows a window like this:

New expression window

The new window for viewing exceptions.

Quick actions

There are a host of extra tools for speeding up code design.  Here's one of my favourites - filling in enumerations:

Enum quick action

When you press CTRL + . you get the possible enumeration values filled in as part of the switch statement.

 

The option shown above would give this:

switch (owltype)

{

case owltype.Tawny:

break;

case owltype.Fish:

break;

case owltype.Screech:

break;

}

This is just one example - there are loads of quick actions for C# and VB listed here.

Structure visualiser lines

Dotted grey lines show which block of code you're in:

Dotted lines

The dotted lines give you an on-screen guide to whereabouts you are in your code.

 

Debugging tools

When debugging, next to each executable line you can see a tool allowing you to run your code until the line is reached:

Run to here

The green arrow appears when you hover over any line of code.

 

There's also a feature allowing you to step back in your code to a previously saved snapshot, thus avoiding having to debug all over again.

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