The New Visual Studio 2013 IDE

Day 1 of the Build Conference revealed some exciting new features for Visual Studio 2013. In this post, we will take a look at changes to the Visual Studio 2013 IDE and see how they can help improve the developer experience and productivity. Please note that I will touch on the CodeLens and CodeMap features in upcoming posts.

Send a smile or a frown

Visual Studio 2013 has a new way of sending your feedback to Microsoft from within the application. Clicking on the button lets you send a smile (positive feedback) or a frown (negative feedback) along with comments on what you like or dislike about the new Visual Studio experience.


Signing in to the IDE

Developers can now sign in to the IDE which helps preserve your custom environment settings. For example, you might like panes to be positioned in a certain way, or may change the font size/colour to make it easier for you to work with your code. Your settings are pushed into the cloud so you can always work with Visual Studio the way you’re used to even when working on a solution from different machines. It is recommended that you use your MSDN/TFS service account.


When you launch Visual Studio 2013 for the first time, you can decide to sign-in to the IDE now or sign-in later. The application also asks you to choose your preferred colour theme – blue, light, or dark.

Visual Studio Updates

Gone are the days of the annoying balloon that pops up every time there’s a new update for Visual Studio. Updates will now be displayed as a flag icon in the top right corner.


Clicking on the flag opens the new Notifications Pane which displays critical updates in red and all other notifications in yellow. Developers can dismiss notifications in which case no more reminders will be displayed for that update. Notifications automatically expire after 30 days.


Active vs Inactive Instances

If you have multiple instances of Visual Studio 2013 running, you can easily distinguish the active vs inactive instances based on the icon on the taskbar.


Auto-brace Completion and Enhanced Scrollbar

Whenever you enter an opening curly brace and press ENTER, the closing curly brace will be added automatically! There is also an enhanced scrollbar which allows for narrow, medium and wide views with colour indicators – maroon (breakpoints), red (errors in code) and yellow (changes to code).


Hovering over areas in the scrollbar allows you to see a quick preview of the code block.


Moving and Previewing Code

Another handy feature is the ability to move a line (or blocks) of code without having to cut and paste. You can simply highlight the lines of code you want to move and then hit ALT followed by the UP or DOWN key.

Previewing code is also much simpler. CTRL followed by the COMMA key opens the preview tab to view code without opening the file. Pressing ESC closes the preview and returns you back to your previous location.

“Peek” View

You might be used to the F12 shortcut which navigates to a method definition or variable declaration within your code. There is now a new “Peek View” which allows you to preview code in line within the editor using the ALT F12 shortcut. You can use the Peek View from within the Peek View to nest further into method or variable definitions. This presents breadcrumbs which you can toggle through. Use the ALT F12 + (plus) or – (minus) keys to toggle through breadcrumbs. The ESC key closes the Peek View and it has been announced that you cannot edit code from within the Peek View, but it is being considered for the final release.



The process of opening or building a solution is now done asynchronously so you can start working on your code while the solution is still loading or building. There is also support for cancelling the build process!

CodeMap and CodeLens

There is so much to say about these two new features. Please check for upcoming posts!


To sum up, it was an exciting day at Build 2013 and I can’t wait to get to work with Visual Studio 2013 to take advantage of all the new features!


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