visual studio logo Microsof

One of the biggest annoyances of Visual Studio “15” has been the huge amount of storage it takes on disk. Fortunately, the release of Preview 4 brings the install size down from 6 GB to just 500 MB.

The installation process also takes up less processing power and is faster from start to finish. Azure and .NET Tooling are unavailable in this build but other than that the complete feature set is there.

Visual Studio “15” Preview 4 Release Notes

Needless to say, the new release also comes with some bug fixes and feature improvements, which we have listed for you below:

“New Installation Experience

We designed our new installer from the ground up to:

  • Reduce the minimum footprint of Visual Studio.
  • Install more quickly with less system impact, and uninstall cleanly.
  • Make it easier for you to select and install just the features you need.

Enhanced Visual Studio Feedback Workflow

Visual Studio “15” includes an upgraded feedback experience for better follow-up and collaboration. As part of this upgrade, you will notice a more collaborative Report-a-Problem experience in Visual Studio supplemented by a comprehensive web portal for a complete end-to-end feedback solution.

Visual Studio IDE

  • Revamped Start Page with new Open and Create facilities.
  • Quickly launch the new Clone from VSTS experience through the “Checkout from VSTS” option on the Start Page.
  • Eliminated localhost HTTP noise that would show up in Fiddler during debugging.
  • Reload All Projects has been replaced with Reload Solution to support better performance of switching branches external to VS.
  • A new external service host is being introduced that will replace vshub; this new service host is an external process and will appear in task manager as ServiceHub.Host.CLR.*.exe, as well as node.exe.
  • Pre-release license expiration messages more clearly communicate the current license state.
  • The very first launch of Visual Studio is 30-35% faster.
  • The Account Settings dialog is now more accessible to screen readers.
  • The version control status bar makes it easier to publish local repos to an SCC host and keep track of uncommitted and un-pushed work.

Roaming Extension Manager

Roaming Extension Manager helps you keep track of all your favorite extensions across all of your development environments. Keeps track of the extensions you have installed by creating a synchronized list in the cloud.

Open Folder

Open Folder is a convenient way for you to navigate code bases without projects and solutions. The Solution Explorer has a new button to switch between Solution and Folder views. If MSBuild-based projects exist in the folder, the editor will provide IntelliSense for C# or Visual Basic files, and you can build or debug by using F5 and the file context menu in the Solution Explorer. You can also debug Python and Node.js scripts after the respective Visual Studio tools are installed.

Lightweight Solution Load

Lightweight Solution load enables faster loading of a solution that supports Navigate To, Find in Files, Build, Debug, and single file IntelliSense. It provides an order of magnitude improvement in solution load time and memory usage for large solutions.

Syntax Colorization, Autocomplete, Snippet, and ‘Navigate To’ Search support for a broader set of languages

We now support syntax colorization and autocomplete for an increased range of languages. In addition, some of these languages also support navigation via “Navigate To” (Ctrl+), and/or Code Snippets.

Developer Command Prompt

  • Environment variables will reflect installed workloads only.
  • The VS Developer Command Prompt shortcut should be compatible with previous releases.

Debugging and Diagnostics

  • Use the new Exception Helper to view your exception information at a glance in a compact non-modal dialog with instant access to inner exceptions.
  • When you configure the debugger to break on thrown exceptions, you can add conditions so that the debugger will only break when exceptions are thrown in specified modules.
  • Better External Code support: the CPU Tool now gives you better insights into the costs of library and framework functions when called by user code. 
  • A Functions view that ranks functions by their CPU cost.

    Team Explorer

  • New Connect page shows only the projects and repos that you have mapped and cloned across all of your VSTS accounts (rather than every repo for every project). Additionally, you no longer need to connect to a project before cloning repos.
  • When you connect to Visual Studio Team Services from Visual Studio “15” Preview and open a work item, the work item form will appear in your web browser. However, if you connect to Team Foundation Server 2015 or earlier, you will see the legacy work item forms.

Visual Studio Software Developer Kit

New discovery mechanism now requires all item and project templates following “vstemplate” schema to be defined in template manifest files. Visual Studio templates that you do not define in a template manifest file will no longer be visible in New Project or New Item dialogs. While new VSSDK tooling will generate manifest during VSIX build time, if you have Visual Studio templates released as part of a MSI package, you must manually generate template manifest files for those templates.”

This summary only touches on the changes made in the newest preview. To see known issues, Language changes, and other features, view the full release notes here.