Visual Studio 2015 RTM: What’s New in the IDE

Visual Studio Blog

Visual Studio 2015 was released yesterday. Throughout the prereleases, you’ve seen some major announcements, from the new VS 2015 product lineup introducing Visual Studio Enterprise and Visual Studio Code, to the release of a free Visual Studio Community Edition with support for VS extensions. We’ve listened to your feedback on these products and have been maturing them for what we’re excited to now share as the RTM version of Visual Studio 2015. To see a full summary of all that’s new in Visual Studio 2015, please see John’s post announcing the release of VS 2015 and VS 2013 update 5.

In this post, we’ll dig deeper into details on the lineup of new features specific to the IDE. Here is a list of everything we’ll cover in this post.

Customizable setup that is lighter and faster

One of your top voted requests on setup is to make Visual Studio installer more customizable. Setup for Visual Studio 2015 puts you in control of what gets installed, enabling the installation to be smaller and faster. We have also expanded the suite of components installed with Visual Studio to include multi-device development platforms and solutions across C#/.NET (Xamarin), HTML/JavaScript (Apache Cordova), and C++.

Customizable Setup

During setup, you will see options to pick from various components to install with Visual Studio. Depending on what you choose, you can potentially reduce the size of a default install by 50%, compared to previous releases.

You always have the option to install Visual Studio with the full set of capabilities. Keep in mind that the full installation will be sizable since it lays down not only core Visual Studio components, like the shell and the editor, but also large SDKs and emulators, such as the ones for Windows and Android.

If the basic set of capabilities you initially installed do not fulfill your needs, you can later install features as you need them. For example, if you chose not to install C++ during setup, opening a C++ project will give you the option to install it on-demand, and Visual Studio will fetch the latest versions for you.

We will continue to move more of Visual Studio’s capabilities out of the default installation, and focus on creating a friction-free setup experience in which you can get the features you need when you need them.

New sign in and account management experience

The new account manager significantly reduces prompts for sign in. It does so by keeping a synchronized list of all accounts you have connected to in the IDE and Visual Studio family of apps. It enables single sign-on and usage of multiple accounts across developer services, such as Visual Studio Online and Azure. When you connect to a service or sign in to the IDE, the account is added to the account manager. This account then becomes available without re-prompting for credentials when accessing other resources; as shown in the account picker control below.

Account Picker

Directory filtering for accounts that are part of many Azure Active Directories

When viewing resources under an account, the list can grow extremely large for users who have accounts that are members or co-administrators of many Azure Active Directories. Cloud Solution Providers, for example, may have up to thousands of customer directories under a single account. We have added the ability to globally scope an account to a single Azure Active Directory in the account manager. Directory Filtering for Accounts part of Azure Active Directories

Publish to Visual Studio Online

In previous versions of Visual Studio, sharing code meant going to a website to manually publish a repository, jumping through a myriad of workflows and manual steps like creating accounts and services just to start sharing code. In Visual Studio 2015, the process of getting your local repository onto Visual Studio Online (VSO) has been dramatically simplified. What used to take 12 steps now takes 2.

From the Team Explorer Sync page, you can quickly select any of the user accounts in Visual Studio’s account manager. Your Visual Studio Online accounts are automatically available in the list; no need to remember the URLs.

Publish to VSO

After selecting your account, pick a new or existing team project to host your repository, click publish, and you’re done.

Improved Notifications Hub

In Visual Studio 2013, we introduced the Notifications Hub to surface notifications to developers with information about their environment. Most notably, we used this area to tell you when an update was available for Visual Studio or a component in VS. In Visual Studio 2015, we’ve added a new notification that gives you an option to learn more about a recent Visual Studio crash. There are now quite a few notifications you may get through the Notifications Hub, so we’ve simplified the UI. Notifications are better categorized, and titles and descriptions are one line each. You can also choose to ‘always ignore’ notifications that are not important to you.

Improved Notification Hub

Find and fix issues quickly with light bulbs and the enhanced error list

Light bulbs (which replaced smart tags) help you identify and fix common coding issues. In many cases this is “live” as you type your code, and take quick code actions (like refactoring, implementing interfaces, and more) from right inside the editor.


We’ve also enhanced the Error List so that it is your “one-stop-shop” for navigating and correcting code-related issues in your solution, whatever their source: compilation, code analysis, or live “Analyzers” which spot domain-specific issues as you type. You can use the advanced filtering available in the Error List to focus on a problem, navigate to it, and make your fix. For example, you can filter to see only the errors from your last build or in your current project. The Error List now also has a better default ranking, so that top issues appear at the top of the list.

For extra assistance, you can just click the Code Link or press F1 when you have an error selected, to see Bing powered compiler help which uses all the relevant context on the error (such as language, project type, error message) to locate the best web content to help you resolve your issues.Error List With New Build Filter

Touch in the Editor

Visual Studio now lets you pinch-zoom, scroll, and select, all with a touch of your finger inside the editor.

Productivity Power Tools for Visual Studio 2015 released

We are pleased to announce the availability of Productivity Power Tools for Visual Studio 2015. You can download it right away from the Visual Studio Gallery.

The new release contains all the features of the previous Productivity Power Tools (2013), with the following changes to work with Visual Studio 2015:

  • Solution Error Visualizer has been updated to take advantage of the new Visual Studio 2015 Error List and its advanced filtering capabilities; filters applied in the error list will now apply to the visualizer too.
  • Color Printing, Colorized Parameter Help and Organize VB Imports are all incorporated into the Visual Studio 2015 core product (so they are no longer needed in the Productivity Power Tools)

Visual Studio 2015 Color Theme Editor released

We have also released the Color Theme Editor to give you the power to customize the color palette of the IDE. You can choose from any of the prebuilt themes or start building your own theme and even share with your friends!

Removal of many build-related files into the “.vs” folder

One of the top feedback items on UserVoice was to store project related information in .vs folder to avoid polluting the root. We have addressed this in VS 2015 by moving many of the temporary caches and build related files out of the root of the solution directory and into a root level ‘.vs’ folder. This simplifies source code control and reduces files system clutter.

Define a new project type to create extensions using the VS Project System Extensibility Preview

The VS Project System Extensibility Preview makes it easier than ever to extend Visual Studio with new project types to support new languages and scenarios. The post “Introducing the Project System Extensibility Preview” dives into how our ecosystem can take advantage of this new type of extensibility.

Easily create and share Visual Studio extensions

The new item templates simplify adding functionality like a new editor feature, a custom command, or a custom tool window to an existing extension without having to use the project creation wizard. All you have to do is pick an extensibility item template and add it to your extensibility project. Once you create an extension, it is easily sharable: the extensibility assemblies are now available through NuGet, making it easy to share a project with others and keep it updated with the latest APIs. We’ve also streamlined the steps to install the Visual Studio SDK when opening a project on a machine that doesn’t have the SDK installed.

Open source extensions can now be shared with the community through GitHub in the Visual Studio Gallery, which has a new shared repository and GitHub links built in.

Thank you for your feedback!

We will continue to improve Visual Studio 2015 with updates, and as always your feedback impacts the direction we take for future releases of the product. Please send us suggestions and ideas through UserVoice and bugs through the Visual Studio Connect site. You can also use the in-product Send-a-Smile feature (the smiley face in the upper right corner of the IDE) to send us any comments or thoughts.


Ji Eun Kwon Ji Eun Kwon, Program Manager, Visual Studio Platform IDE

Ji Eun Kwon is a Program Manager on the Visual Studio Platform IDE team. Her primary focus is on identity and licensing experiences in the IDE. She is a recent graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in Computer Science and Economics. 

image Tarek Madkour, Group Program Manager, Visual Studio Platform IDE

Tarek’s team is responsible for delivering the Visual Studio UI including editing and project handling as well as the command-line tools used for building applications. Tarek is a tool maker by passion and trade. Ever since joining Microsoft a little over a decade ago, he spent all his time working on various aspects of development tools.


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