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Visual Studio 2017: What Features Didn't Make It, What Are Planned

With the long-awaited Visual Studio 2017 finally rolling out this week, here's a look at some user-requested features that didn't make into Microsoft's flagship IDE, and some that are on track for future releases.

Microsoft uses its User Voice site to solicit ideas and feature requests from developers, and faithfully addresses each, marking them as Completed, Under Review, Declined, Planned and so on.

Under the Declined category, the most-requested features for Visual Studio (not specific to VS 2017) are dominated by diehard Visual Basic users. They just won't let go.

A request to "Bring back Classic Visual Basic, an improved version of VB6," has garnered more than 12,000 votes and an astounding 7,000-plus comments.

In response, in an extensive note published almost three years ago, Microsoft said that despite VB6 being "awesome": "It is not a viable option to create a next version of VB6. We stand by our decision to make VB.NET and the .NET Framework."

Despite Microsoft's well-reasoned response, developers are still commenting on the post, with many posts being published just this week (my favorite is one from today: "Why are you here? Is this a punishment? How long do you have to do that?").

VB coders are nothing if not loyal and persistent, though. Microsoft also stamped DECLINED on:

  • Visual Basic for Developing Universal Windows Application
  • Provide a Visual Basic 6 Community edition - to allow free download of the VB6 programming language
  • VB6 Programming - Create a utility to convert VB.Net to VB6
  • Re-open the 'Bring back Classic Visual Basic' suggestion for VB6 Programming

Some of the more realistic features that have been declined include items such as:

  • Bring back the basic setup and deployment project type Visual Studio Installer (6,000-plus votes)
  • Add React Native support to VS2015 (still not added in VS 2017)
  • Add Codelens support for Javascript, Typescript and CSS

CodeLens ("Find references and changes to your code, linked bugs, work items, code reviews, and unit tests") was the subject of a seemingly disproportionate number of declined requests, but the top vote-getter looks like a request for "Silverlight 6." That request received 15,574 votes and 685 comments. But -- guess what? -- just like VB6, it ain't happening.

Items that will be happening are listed in the Planned and Started categories.

Some of the top vote-getters in the Planned category include:

  • Commit changes to a submodule using VS
  • Ability to configure Source Control settings per project
  • Provide Stash support in visual studio tools for Git
  • Allow users to install entirely to another hard drive
  • Support the ability to push Git Tags to remote
  • Provide pure HTML5/CSS3/JS project template
  • Intellisense for Angular 2 templates
  • JavaScript Unit Testing

Some of the more popular items in the Started category include:

  • Support web.config style Transforms on any file in any project type
  • Add F# support for .NET Native
  • Provide integrated JavaScript debugging in Firefox and Google Chrome browsers
  • Make Solutions Load Faster
  • Provide JavaScript Refactoring Tools
  • Visual Studio Task Manager
  • Adopt a simple and obvious versioning scheme for the IDE
  • Typescript code snippets

Note that some of the Started items may have been in addressed in the brand-new VS 2017, but Microsoft might not have gotten around to marking them as Completed yet.

Speaking of Completed, some popular items in that category include many oldies but goodies and some brand-new closed-out items:

  • Visual Studio for Mac Os x
  • Support .NET Builds without requiring Visual Studio on the server
  • Make the installation of Visual Studio light-weight and fast
  • Make all msdn documentation available off-line
  • Multithreaded C/C++ linker
  • Fix 260 character file name length limitation
  • Add support for Git over ssh in Team Explorer
  • Use proper mouse wheel routing
  • Run unit tests in parallel

While there's no official Visual Studio roadmap available from Microsoft so developers can get a better handle on what's planned for the IDE, you can check out the comments section of a blog post published this week by John Montgomery outlining what's new in VS 2017 to find tidbits about future plans.

There, Microsoft execs such as Mads Torgersen, Rich Lander and Miguel de Icaza answer questions about WebAssembly support and C# 7.1, and there's other discussion about profiler support for .NET Core, WPF, Windows Forms and more.

Nothing about Visual Basic, though.

Posted by David Ramel on March 10, 2017