What’s new in Microsoft Visual Studio Code

Microsoft regularly updates Visual Studio Code. Keep track of the updates’ key capabilities in this changelog

Paul Krill Feb 24th 2018 A-A+

Microsoft’s open source development tool is an important piece of the developer’s toolkit. Built using GitHub’s cross-platform Electron framework, Visual Studio Code is a full-featured development editor that supports a wide selection of languages and platforms, from the familiar C and C# to modern environments and languages like Go and Node.js, with parity between Windows, MacOS, and Linux releases.

Microsoft regularly updates Visual Studio Code. Keep track of the updates’ key features in this changelog.

Where to download Visual Studio Code

To download the editor for Windows, MacOS, and Linux, go to Microsoft’s Visual Code Studio website. It’s also available in Anaconda Python as an option in Distribution 51.

What’s new in Visual Studio Code 1.20

Released in January 2018, Version 1.20 of Visual Studio Code features the ability to run actions on different files simultaneously. Other new features include:

  • Developers can select multiple files in the File Explorer and Open Editors view, to run actions on multiple items.
  • Error indicators are shown in the File Explorer and Open Editors view.
  • The editor now ships with TypeScript 2.7.1.
  • The Quick Fix capability for errors in JavaScript and TypeScript is included, with developers able to apply the same fix to all occurrences within a file.
  • The improved Settings search capability uses natural language search to find the right setting.
  • The Git submodule support debuts, to perform operations on nested Git repos.
  • Files that need administrator privileges can be saved.
  • Files larger than 256MB can be saved.
  • Debugging for multiroot workspaces is added, to manage configurations among multiple projects.
  • For extension authoring, custom views have been improved with additions to the API.
  • Global snippets can be created; these are snippets not scoped to a single language but that can target any kind of files.
  • Developers can zoom in on image previews.
  • Terminal screen reader support is added,  first step to making terminal use easier for people with vision impairment.

Features in notable Visual Studio extensions

What’s new in the C/C++ for Visual Studio Code extension

In late February 2018, Microsoft made avaiable the C/C++ for Visual Studio Code extension that makes it easier to read code in Visual Studio Code. It grays out inactive code regions, which are controlled by conditional-compilation directives. Other features in the Version 0.15.0 extension include:

  • Updates for the IntelliSense compiler with more C++ 17 support and bug fixes.
  • Fixes for the highest-hitting crashes, which had impacted IntelliSense and Qt projects.
  • Repair of a stuck IntelliSense process during shutdown.
  • Addition of more macros for hint.
  • Fixing of error popup appearing with non-workspace files when using compile-commands.json.
  • Defining Unicode by default on Windows platforms.

What’s new in the Visual Studio Code Debugger for Java extension

Visual Studio Code has added new support for Java development. The 0.5.0 release of the Debugger for Java extension for Visual Studio Code adds expression evaluation and support step filters. With expression evaluation, developers can see the value of simple variables, single-line expressions, and short code fragments in the running context. Developers then can monitor and validate the change of a value while code is executed.

Support step filters let developers configure packages to filter in a launch.json configuration file. Step filters usually are used to filter out types that developers do not want to see or step through when debugging.

In the Debugger for Java 0.5.0 release, binaries can be published to a central Maven repository. 

Where to download Visual Studio Code extensions

You can download extensions from the Visual Studio Marketplace. Here are popular extensions:

What’s new in Visual Studio Code 1.19

Visual Studio Code 1.19, the November 2017 release of the editor, focuses on product performance, data collection tools for better reporting, and GitHub issue cleanup.

Key features include:

  • Quicker startup.
  • Addition of a command-line argument that prints diagnostics information to the terminal. This information can be shared with Microsoft in GitHub issues, with the intent of providing a better understanding of the editor at the time of the issue.
  • New diagnostics, logging, and extension monitoring.
  • Tabbed headers that can scale to available space.
  • The IntelliSense capability remembers previous suggestion choices.
  • The output of a terminal command can be piped directly into Visual Studio Code.
  • Changes to images can be viewed side by side in a Git repository.
  • Recipes for debugging Next.js and Meteor projects and applications.

What’s new in Visual Studio Code 1.18

The October 2017 release of Visual Studio Code, aka version 1.18, offers faster Windows startup, support for handling multiple projects via multiroot workspaces, and improvements to decorations (upon which features are built such as word highlights) that reduce slowdowns and memory usage.

Other improvements include:

  • Recommended extensions are identified by a badge to distinguish them from others in a list.
  • Auto import for JavaScript and TypeScript is available to speed up coding with imports. TypeScript 2.6 is required for this capability.
  • The source control status of a file shows up in the File Explorer.
  • The Git status in File Explorer shows modified, added, conflicting, and ignored files with different colors and badges.
  • Vertical panel layout lets developers move around the terminal and debug console, as well as switch between horizontal and vertical views. Developers also can access hidden panels when space is limited.
  • The inline pending change review capability lets developers view source code changes in the standard editor. This feature is enabled in Git repositories out of the box, but requires support from other repositories.

What’s new in Visual Studio Code 1.17

The September 2017 release of Visual Studio Code, aka version 1.17, arrived with many improvements, including region markers to the code folding support and boosted performance of the built-in terminal.

With code folding, developers can hide away regions of source code using folding icons on the gutter between the line numbers and the start of a line of code. The region markers allow you to specify with comments exactly where your foldable blocks begin and end. Markers have been defined for TypeScript, JavaScript, C and C++, C#, F#, PowerShell, and Visual Basic.

Also new in the 1.17 release is a canvas-based rendering engine in the integrated terminal capability, improving rendering from five to 45 times, depending on the situation. “This change reduces the input latency, power usage, and increases the frame rate of the terminal significantly,” Microsoft said. The integrated terminal provides a convenience that can save developers from having to switch windows or alter an existing terminal state in order to quickly perform a command-line task.

Other improvements in the September release include enhanced debugging messages, with output messages in the debug console optionally displaying the originating source location. Clicking on this origin opens the source file. Version 1.17 now automatically shows module and path suggestions for JavaScript and TypeScript.

Visual Studio Code now has a source control providers section that provides an overview of multiple active repositories, which can be fed by multiple SCM providers. Git repositories, for example, could be maintained side-by-side with Microsoft Team Foundation Server workspaces. Users can leverage Ctrl+click or Shift-click capabilities to select multiple repositories, which appear as split views.

For Mac users, Visual Studio Code 1.17 adds support for showing actions in the MacOS Touch Bar. Actions have been added to navigate in editor history and to control the debugger. Also, extensions can be used to add commands to the Touch Bar via the touchBar menu identifier. Native window tabs support has been added for MacOS Sierra as well.

Finally, Visual Studio Code now offers new online documentation for Java developers. Java debugging recently was added to Visual Code via an extension.