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Visual Studio 2012 Update 1 Arrives

The development team in Redmond let out a small collective sigh of relief this week as the first official update for Visual Studio 2012 was released. A bright shiny new Visual Studio 2012 Update 1 steps forward as the first of several updates that will be brought forward with faster regularity.

This increase in update frequency indicates Microsoft is aligning to core software development trends (i.e., RAD and Agile) in the market. The approach to delivering updates, integrated directly into the IDE, makes it easier for developers to keep the Visual Studio client up-to-date.

Microsoft's developer division corporate VP S. Somasegar says that this release isn't just about bug fixes (although there are a few of those, too) and that this contains improvements intended to "measurably address" issues reported through channels including Connect, UserVoice, and Windows Error Reporting.

"The new functionality in Update 1 primarily spans four areas of investment: Windows development, SharePoint development, Agile teams, and continuous quality," said Somasegar.

Featured here is support for debugging mixed managed/native Windows Store applications as well as improved ARM debugging for Windows 8 apps. The firm is targeting Windows XP with C++ applications now built into Visual Studio 2012. SharePoint 2010 development also comes into the spotlight with additional ALM capabilities for SharePoint 2010 app development, such as load testing and coded UI testing support with the aim of improving quality, scalability, and agility.

Somasegar explains that Update 1 also includes diagnostics and testing support for Windows Store apps. This comes in the form of a JavaScript memory analysis tool support for data-driven unit tests and C++ unit testing enhancements. Additionally, for developers building apps for Windows Phone 8, Microsoft has enabled code analysis to help improve the quality of their phone apps.

Microsoft spells out its Agile team focus saying that this update includes usability improvements to productivity while managing projects in the web-based interface for Team Foundation Server.

"[There are] new ways to navigate around the UI, more cases where dragging and dropping is relevant, and a much-improved source viewing and diffing experience. Update 1 also includes Kanban support. In addition to the existing Scrum and task board support, the Kanban support offers a new range of project tracking options, including a Kanban board and a cumulative flow diagram," blogged Somasegar.

Continuous quality also comes into focus with Update 1, and for Microsoft's money this currently means testing at all levels. Code coverage is now supported for manual testing ASP.NET applications and the firm hopes that this will enable testers to analyze which areas of a code base are used during manual testing (similar to the support already enabled for automated tests).

Cross-browser testing is now supported, with the ability to record tests on Internet Explorer and later replay them with most modern browsers.

In a slightly non-related but still kind of related update to finish with, Somasegar suggests that those looking for more functionality out of Visual Studio 2012 should consider installing the recently released free Productivity Power Tools add-in from the Visual Studio Gallery. These are actually created by individuals on the Visual Studio team and act as a pack of extensions focused on "streamlining" the developer experiences, or "making programming better" if you want it in non-Microsoft terminology.

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