F#, a functional programming language developed by Microsoft Research, is getting a second generation of tools for use with the Visual Studio software development platform.
Visual F# Power Tools serves as an extension to the Visual Studio IDE, including the newly released Visual Studio 2015 platform as well as the predecessor 2013 platform. "The goal of the extension is to complement the standard Visual Studio F# tooling by adding missing features, such as semantic highlighting, rename refactoring, find all references, metadata-as-source, and more," F# community developers Anh-Dung Phan and Vasily Kirichenko said in a recent post in the .Net Blog
The new tools are downloadable at the Visual Studio website and include support for F# 4.0 constructs, improved theme detection on Visual Studio 2015, setting of explicit dependency on F# tools, and dropping of support for Visual Studio 2012. F# Power Tools also feature semantic highlighting, with the colorizing of F# code based on semantic structures, similar to what's available with the C# editor.
Power Tools provides source code formatting as well as automatic generation of pattern match cases. A "Find all References" feature, meanwhile, enables developers to place the cursor on any symbol defined in the current solution and have all references displayed with navigation information. The "NavigateTo," capability assists with project navigation, working on mixed F#/C# solutions.
Future plans for F# and tooling call for integrating an FSharpLint style-checking tool. Such features as syntax coloring and code completion also could be added, and C# interoperability, in which tooling features should be aware of referenced C# projects, is being contemplated.
F# is an open source, cross-platform "functional-first" programming language. With functional programming, computation is treated like mathematical functions. Functional programming has spread to other languages also, including Scala, Clojure and even Java, with Java 8, which was released last year. F# has gathered momentum in the Tiobe index of language popularity, currently ranking 15th in the index, which is based on Internet searches related to languages.
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