What’s New in Visual Studio 2017?

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Ah, it is that jolly time of year again! Apart from Christmas, the Release Candidate for Visual Studio 207 is out! This article will highlight all the changes in Visual Studio 2017 and inform you on what is new in Visual Studio 2017.

New Features in Visual Studio 2017

New Visual Studio 2017 Installer

Visual Studio 2017 comes with a brand new, revamped installer. I have never been a fan of the previous Visual Studio installers. It literally took forever to install Visual Studio. It was, in my opinion, a very painful experience and I dreaded every time I had to install a new version of Visual Studio. Now, the process is far less painful.

The new installer for Visual Studio 2017 has the following features:

  • Installs more quickly with less system impact.
  • Uninstalls cleanly.
  • Reduces the footprint of Visual Studio.
  • Makes it easier for you to select and install just the features you need.

A New Visual Studio Start Page

The new Visual Studio 2017 Start Page has new Open and Create facilities, including:

  • Updated badge on newly added items in the News Feed.
  • Dismissible “Get Started” section.
  • The Visual Studio 2017 Start Page Most Recent Used items (MRU) shows repos that you have cloned on other machines so that you can easily clone them on your current machine.
  • Create new projects directly from the Start Page with searchable templates and a list of recently used templates.
  • Refined visual design to address feedback about truncated elements on smaller screens and utilization of empty space.

New Extensibility Features

The new Visual Studio 2017 installer gives you greater control over the tools that are installed. Users will be warned when attempting to install an extension that was not built using the new VSIX format.

Live Unit Testing

Live Unit Testing visualizes unit test results and code coverage live on the editor, as you are coding. It works with C# and VB projects and supports three test frameworks: MS Test, xUnit, and NUnit. Currently, Live Unit Testing is only present in the Enterprise edition of Visual Studio 2017.

Run to Click Debugging

You can simply click the icon next to a line of code whilst debugging to run to that line. You no longer have to set temporary breakpoints or perform several steps to execute your code and stop on the line you want.

The New Visual Studio 2017 Exception Helper

  • You can use the new Exception Helper in Visual Studio 2017 to view exception information in a compact, non-modal dialog with instant access to inner exceptions.
  • Quickly see what was null inside the Exception Helper when diagnosing a NullReferenceException.
  • You can exclude breaking on exception types thrown from specific modules.

Language Extensions

Some proposed language extensions include:


  • Task-like return types for async methods.
  • Value tuples that introduce language support for using tuples to temporarily group a set of typed values.
  • Nested local functions that support declaration of functions in a block scope.
  • Pattern matching extensions.
  • Ref returns that enable functions to return values by reference.

Visual Basic

  • Value tuples; for example: Dim point As (x As Integer, y As Integer) = GetOffset().
  • ByRef return consumption supports consumption of functions and properties from libraries that have ByRef returns.
  • Binary literals and digit group separators allow native representation of binary numbers.

Improvements in Visual Studio 2017

Some of the improvements include:

  • The GitHub extension for Visual Studio can be selected in the new Visual Studio installer.
  • Visual Studio has been optimized to reduce startup time and solution load time.
  • Visual Studio now can monitor extension performance that has an impact on startup, solution load, or editing.
  • Reload All Projects has been replaced with Reload Solution to support better performance of switching branches external to Visual Studio.
  • You are now automatically taken to the folder view of your repository after cloning.
  • A new external service host is being introduced; it will replace VSHub.
  • Pre-release license expiration messages more clearly communicate the current license state.
  • 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.

A more detailed list of improvements, enhancements, and new features of Visual Studio 2017 can be found on MSDN.

You can download the release candidate for Visual Studio 2017 here.


Visual Studio just keeps growing and growing with each new release. I wonder what’s next?

Hannes DuPreez
Hannes DuPreez
Ockert J. du Preez is a passionate coder and always willing to learn. He has written hundreds of developer articles over the years detailing his programming quests and adventures. He has written the following books: Visual Studio 2019 In-Depth (BpB Publications) JavaScript for Gurus (BpB Publications) He was the Technical Editor for Professional C++, 5th Edition (Wiley) He was a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for .NET (2008–2017).

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