Visual Studio 2019 v16.4 Preview 2, Fall Sports, and Pumpkin Spice

Jacqueline Widdis

Fall Colors
Fall Colors on Microsoft Campus in Redmond


Here at our Redmond campus in the Pacific Northwest, we are cloaked with a brilliant display of fall colors and team members walking around in their favorite American football jerseys often with coffee in hand.  While I may not have confirmed, I suspect fall flavors are hinted in the steamy beverages.

The Microsoft Ignite conference is approaching in early November, and our annual Giving Campaign has us looking for ways to make community and global impact.  All of this is to say, we are anticipating an exciting season of bettering our world and our Visual Studio products. Along those lines, we are proud to release Visual Studio 2019 version 16.4 Preview 2 with some new features in the IDE, C++, Container Tools, and GitHub integration.

While I give an overview of these new features, why not downloaded the most recent version from and check out these features for yourself? As always, our release notes give even greater detail. 

Change Your Tabs to a Vertical Layout

I was recently in training and happened to meet one of the designers who had just completed work on this feature.  He couldn’t wait for developers to give this part of our product a try.  The choice to display tabs in a vertical layout was one of the most requested features from former Custom Document Well extension and Developer Community users.  After additional customer research to identify pain points in document management, we have identified several areas of improvementsThe vertical tab implementation starting in Visual Studio 2019 v16.4 Preview 2 is one step in many to deeply improve the document management experienceBelow is a quick example of how the new feature looks.


Shows the look of vertical tabs in the IDE
Change your tabs to a vertical layout

Container Tools Window

Until now, this feature has only been available as an extension in the Visual Studio Marketplace.  After great usage and reviews, we have brought the functionality into the IDE itself.  This new tool window enables you to list, inspect, stop, start and remove Docker images and containers on a local machine. In addition, you can view folders and files in running containers and open a terminal window. Finally, you can view, stream, and search container logs.   

Container Tools Window
Container Tools Window


Terminal Window Updates

Continuing the theme of general improvements, we’ve added the ability to create multiple terminal instances and automatically create profiles for the Developer Command Prompt, Developer PowerShell and any WSL distributions available on your machine.  The automatic profile creation will happen on first launch or through the profiles restore button.

Overview Pages for CMake Projects

We have added Overview Pages for CMake projects to help you get started with cross-platform development. These pages are dynamic and help you install the Linux Workload, connect to a remote Linux system or the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), and add a Linux or WSL configuration to your CMake project. If you are just getting started with Linux development in Visual Studio, I recommend trying our native support for WSL. 

Also, a navigational feature has been added to the launch drop-down menu so that CMake projects will display your most recently used targets.  Plus, with the ability to filter from this location, finding what you are looking for becomes simpler.

Symbol Search Enabled for C++

We’ve continued to expand our search capabilities by adding symbol search support for C++You will now be able to search for types and members in addition files within the search control.  Results are refined dynamically as each letter of your search query is typedYou can access code search through our single search shortcut (Ctrl+Q) in the search box centered at the top of Visual Studio, or view focused code related results only by clicking on the Code group.

.NET Tooling

You can now configure the severity level of a code style rule directly through the error list. Place your cursor on the error, warning, or suggestion. Right click and select Set severity. Next, select the severity level you would like to configure for that rule. As a result, this will update your existing EditorConfig with the rule’s new severity. This also works for third party analyzers. 


Configure the severity of a code style rule
Set the severity level of a code style rule

In addition, we are continuously adding provisioning and publishing support for popular Azure services. In this preview we added support for provisioning Application Insights from within the dependencies section of publish profiles. 

Add dependencies
Add dependencies to Azure services

Publish to GitHub Support

Finally, another extension with functionality making its way into Visual Studio 2019 product itself is the previously available GitHub Extension. This developer favorite allows enables seamless interaction with GitHub repositories. Publish those local repositories by simply clicking the Publish to GitHub button on the Team Explorer Synchronization page.     

Pin Properties in Debugger

[Update 10/16] It looks like there was an error going live with this feature.  Thank you very much for giving us feedback, and we hope you look forward to trying this new addition in our next preview release.  Sneak Peek!

Identifying objects by their properties while debugging has just become easier and more discoverable with the new Pinnable Properties tool.  In short, hover over a property you want to display in the debugger window of the Watch, Autos, and Locals windows, click that pin icon, and immediately see the information you are looking for at the top of your display!

Pin Properties in Debugger
Pin Properties in Debugger


Give it a try and let us know what you think

Hopefully, these features make you as excited as your favorite team putting a few points on the scoreboard.  If so, head on over to our downloads page and as always, we love to hear your feedback on our Visual Studio Developer Community.  If you run into any complications, our Report a Problem tool in Visual Studio is the best way to get the attention of our teams