Celebrating the Visual Studio 2012 launch with the release of a popular App

Celebrating the Visual Studio 2012 launch with the release of a popular App

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Today, we’re happy to announce the launch of Visual Studio 2012 and the .NET Framework 4.5. You can read more about the Visual Studio 2012 launch on Jason Zander’s blog.

We’ve been using the new version of Visual Studio for several months now to build .NET Framework apps for Windows, Windows Store, Windows Azure, and Window Server. The Visual Studio team has made many improvements throughout the product that I’m sure you’ll love. We’ve certainly found quite a few.

Many of you have asked for the “.NET Feature Catalog” app that we’ve been demonstrating at recent conferences such as TechEd. To celebrate the launch of Visual Studio 2012, we’re very happy to release the source code for this app. More on that below, but let’s first look at one of my favorite features in Visual Studio 2012 for .NET developers.

NuGet Integration

Everyone has a favorite Visual Studio 2012 feature. I’d like to introduce you to one that you may not have noticed yet, which has become a favorite of mine. It’s the NuGet integration in Visual Studio. NuGet is a growing web library of code libraries and tools that use the .NET Framework. There are thousands of libraries available on NuGet that have been downloaded millions of times. NuGet is already popular, but I’m guessing that it’s about to become an even bigger hit now that the NuGet client is part of Visual Studio 2012. Let’s take a look at this new feature.

Using NuGet in Visual Studio 2012

NuGet is exposed in a couple of ways in Visual Studio 2012. The primary way that I use it is via the context (right-click) menu on the project node in Solution Explorer. You can see the Manage NuGet Packages option at the bottom of the menu in Figure 1. The same option is available on the context menu of the references node. Additional NuGet functionality is available under Tools, Library Package Manager.

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Figure 1. Visual Studio Solution Explorer project context menu

Installing NuGet packages with the NuGet Package Manager

When you choose Manage Nuget Packages from the context menu, you will see the NuGet Package Manager displayed below. The Package Manager enables you to add NuGet packages to your project from the NuGet repository (which is on the web) or remove NuGet packages from your project. When you add a NuGet package, you can use the functionality it provides within your app. Visual Studio takes care of deploying the DLLs from the NuGet package with your app.

Json.NET, which you can see in the screen capture below, is a favorite NuGet package of mine. It exposes multiple ways of reading and writing JSON payloads from REST APIs. Give it a try.

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Figure 2. Manage NuGet Packages dialog box

Release of the “What’s new in the .NET 4.5” app

The .NET Framework 4.5 introduces a number of features to help solve the programming problems of today. We created a sample that provides an end-to-end demonstration of how to build a Windows 8 app that connects to a .NET Framework 4.5 web backend that exposes an industry standard REST API. If you were at TechEd 2012 in North America or Europe, we showed you how to build this sample from scratch. The app itself is a catalog of features found in the .NET Framework, so you can learn more about the .NET Framework simply by exploring the app.

The sample demonstrates these main features:

  • WebAPI for building REST based web services
  • Entity Framework using Code First and migrations
  • Windows Store app using the .NET for Windows Store Apps profile
  • Async and await to build a fast and interactive user experience
  • HttpClient for an easy way to connect to a web service
  • NuGet for acquiring the latest libraries, specifically Json.NET

Many people have been asking for this app, and we’re happy to make it available. You can download the sample and source files from the MSDN Samples Gallery: http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/Whats-New-in-the-NET-e8d7545c.

Exploring the app

You can see the app in the screen captures below. It displays a number of .NET Framework features, which you can then explore with any of the input modalities (including touch) available on your machine.

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Figure 3. Screens from the What's New app

Downloading and opening the app in Visual Studio 2012

You can download the “.NET Feature Catalog” app for yourself. From there, it's easy to open it up in Visual Studio 2012 to explore the source code.

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Figure 4: Opening the “What’s new in the .NET Framework 4.5” app in Visual Studio 2012

Watch the talks

You can take a quick peek at the “What’s new in the .NET Framework 4.5” app by watching one of our videos from TechEd North America (presented by Brandon Bray) or TechEd Europe (presented by Layla Driscoll).

Note: The app in the MSDN Samples Gallery includes slight revisions to the app we presented at TechEd 2012.

In closing

Visual Studio 2012 is now available for everyone to use. Enjoy coding, and check out our app.

Downloads:

Follow or talk to us on twitter -- http://twitter.com/dotnet.

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  • Everyone has a favorite Visual Studio feature, but oddly enough, the user interface isn't anyone's favorite. In fact, the muddy colors, the lack of borders between panels, the bizarre capitalization, and the indistinct monochrome icons have caused a barrage of negative feedback from Visual Studio users ever since the VS11 beta. Revisiting the UI design was the top suggestion on UserVoice for months, with more than twice as many votes as the next one, until Microsoft inexplicably closed it.

    I'm sure you guys must be sick of hearing this by now, but it really can't be said enough. It's unbelievable that Microsoft has ignored their users on this topic for so long, and that they're willing to squander the goodwill of so many developers rather than admit a mistake.

  • @Mr2001 -- Do note that the Visual Studio 2012 Color Theme Editor has been released -- see: visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/366ad100-0003-4c9a-81a8-337d4e7ace05. I haven't personally tried it, so I don't know how many of your concerns it helps to mitigated, however, it is likely worth a try. I do grasp your opinion -- as you say, the issue has been tough to miss.

    In general, the Visual Studio blog (blogs.msdn.com/.../visualstudio) is the best place to engage the team about the UI, since this blog is dedicated to the .NET Framework.

  • @Rich: this must be a joke. I can change colors, yes. But that Theme Editor doesn't give me visible chrome or distinguishable icons.

  • it be great if you actually post the links to the downloads in your blog posts.

  • @kk -- fixed. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • I think this is an excellent piece of work. You should definitely publish it in the app store!

    Thanks very much for making the source available - very instructive.

  • Nice exercise in building a Metro app, but I don't see the point of having a desktop application for a content that could easily be presented in a simple HTML page..

  • @Tudor, thanks for the thought. You're right that the result of the app could be produced by other means. The primary focus of the sample and the TechEd talks associated with it was to demonstrate the use of .NET end-to-end. To that point, the app does provide an incredibly fast-and-fluid experience that could not easily be reproduced by a web page and the sample creates the foundation for a much richer experience. I would look at the sample as more illustrations in the concepts rather than the pursuit of it's own.

  • not to mention it also provides examples for developers to use when building their own Windows Store Apps

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