Top 7 Eye-Catchers of Visual Studio 2012

Microsoft did the RTW of Visual Studio 2012 IDE on August 15th 2012--and it came with a handful of new features and nice enhancements. This article will take you through the top 7 things that were the eye-catchers for me as a developer when I had my first glimpse of Visual Studio 2012.

1. Visual Studio 2012 Look and Feel – Two Inbuilt Themes

The new Visual Studio 2012 UI feels like Metro, especially if you see the Start Page. The controls used in the IDE have a sharp look and feel, and the icons used throughout the IDE are new. Another nice feature is that you can select your Visual Studio themes.  To change the theme, go to Tools --> Options --> Environment --> Generic and select the color theme that you want to use. There are two themes that come out of the box with Visual Studio 2012.

1. Light Theme – Pale background with dark foreground. Refer to Fig 1.0.

Light Theme
Fig 1.0 - Light Theme

2.Dark Theme – Dark background with bright fonts. Refer to Fig 1.1.

Dark Theme
Fig 1.1 - Dark Theme

You can also create / update your own themes by using the color theme editor, which can be downloaded from here.

2. Previewing Files

In the prior versions of Visual Studio, whenever you wanted to see the contents of a source code file you needed to open it and then view it, which resulted in multiple windows opening; as a developer I often got confused with quite a number of file windows.

In Visual Studio 2012 there is a Preview window introduced where you can select a file and click on the Preview icon in the solution explorer. This will open the selected file in the Preview window. The preview window tab docks to the top right of the editor. Later if you want to view any other file, click on the respective file in the solution explorer and the same preview window is loaded with the new file unloading the former one.

The best part is that the file in the preview window is opened in a new window when you start making changes to it or if you double click to open it.

Preview Window
Fig 2.0 - Preview Window

3. View the Members Through Solution Explorer

To check through the members of a source code file in Visual Studio 2012, the developer doesn’t have to open up the file manually, rather he can expand the source code file in Solution Explorer and see the members. Double clicking on the members displayed in Solution Explorer will open the respective code file and the focus will be set onto the member that the user clicked. For me this is one of the brilliant things that have been integrated in Visual Studio to help the developer in navigate easily to different parts of the solution.

Solution Explorer
Fig 3.0 Solution Explorer

4. Quick Launch

Visual Studio 2012 introduces a top level search called Quick Launch, which can be used to search for items throughout the IDE. If you tend to forget the short cut keys or the menu hierarchies or are struggling to figure out how to launch a particular Visual Studio feature, then you can just type in the name of what you are looking for in Quick Launch and it will open it for you. It works just like the Windows Quick Launch in the start menu.

The short cut to reach Quick Launch is Ctrl + Q.

Quick Launch
Fig 4.0 - Quick Launch

5. Code Clone Detection

This is a nice feature, which can be used by the developers to find any duplications of a particular code snippet. Say for example if a developer wants to write a code logic but wants to find out if there is anything available in the solution that already does the same thing, then this feature will help him.

To run this feature select a particular code snippet, right click and click “Find Matching Clones in Solution”. The result will be displayed in the Code Clone Search Results window.

You can learn about it more by going here.

6. Javascript and HTML Editor Improvements

The javascript and HTML IDE editor have gotten a lot of improvements. Below are some of the crucial improvements.

1. Full Intellisense support for JavaScript and jQuery.

2. Brace matching and field indentations are available in the JavaScript editor.

3. The most expected Go to definition for the JavaScript functions are now available.

4. Full support for HTML 5 elements and snippets are available for them as well.

I feel that the client code editor improvements will play an important role because most of the modern day web applications ingrain a lot of client codes targeting the user experience and performance.

7. Close All Documents

At least I was expecting this feature for a long time. This option will allow you to close all the code editor windows opened in a single shot.

There are many interesting features that are packed into Visual Studio 2012. Happy reading!



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