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Developers planning to upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft’s Visual Studio code-writing platform will find a new and improved user interface that the company says will make writing and editing code much easier, as well as a new feature that lets them share code with colleagues.

Visual Studio 2019 was announced back in June of last year, and it is now generally available for download. Microsoft also will integrate the Visual Studio Live Share collaboration feature into both Visual Studio 2019 and Visual Studio Code, the open-source version of the commercial product.

(Click to enlarge) An application diagnostics dashboard in Visual Studio 2019. (Microsoft Screenshot)

Both versions of Visual Studio ranked at the top of Stack Overflow’s annual developer tools survey released last year, and Microsoft said that 8.1 million monthly active one-day users are working with the commercial product. Developers at companies and organizations of all sizes use Visual Studio to create and test their code before moving it into their code repositories, which are likely on Microsoft’s GitHub.

In the new version, Microsoft wanted to reduce the complexity of the user interface presented to developers as they work on their code and help developers take advantage of features they might not have realized were there with an improved search engine, said Amanda Silver, partner director of program management at Microsoft. “It kind of gives you more head space for thinking about the code you’re trying to write,” she said.

Visual Studio 2019 also promises to help developers write cleaner code with an artificial intelligence-powered version of autocorrect for coders. It pays attention to code styles that different companies require their developers to use, and makes suggestions on how to improve or correct that code.

(Click to enlarge) Intelicode helps software developers reduce coding errors with help from artificial intelligence in Visual Studio 2019. (Microsoft Screenshot)

And Microsoft made a few nods to the growing impact of cloud computing on the way software is developed, as new ways of deploying and debugging code are changing old assumptions. Although Visual Studio is used to develop a wide range of applications across mobile devices and operating systems, cloud developers working with the 2019 version will find support for continuous integration/continuous deployment tools as well as Kubernetes, the popular container-orchestration software.

At the time of the $7.5 billion GitHub acquisition last year, here appeared to be a fair amount of opportunity for Visual Studio and GitHub teams inside Microsoft to collaborate on new features that would help developers move between the two products. There’s nothing new to report on that front in the 2019 version, but Microsoft continues to improve the existing GitHub extension for Visual Studio and will likely incorporate the extension in a future release, Silver said.

There’s also a 2019 version of Visual Studio for Mac coming out Tuesday, but a lot of the more advanced bells and whistles can only be found in the core product. The new Mac version comes with a new code editor that shares a common core with the one used in the Windows version, as well as several navigation and performance improvements.

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