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Visual Studio 2013 reaches beyond the IDE

Martin Heller | Feb. 13, 2014
Microsoft delivers editing, debugging, deployment, project architecture, and ALM improvements stretching from Windows to Web development, from mobile devices to clouds

If you forget to add everything you need to an ASP.Net project when you create it, you can now easily add it later via scaffolding. Scaffolds include generators of controllers with all combinations of available Web technologies, generators of views, and generators of areas. Areas are a way of partitioning MVC applications, added in MVC 2, that solves the problem of having an unwieldy number of models, views, and controllers in a large website.

MVC Web projects strongly remind me of Ruby on Rails, with the same strengths, weaknesses, and pitfalls. If you put the model-related code in the model, the view-related code in the view, and the controller-related code in the controller, then avoid crossing the lines, you can build a robust website that automatically implements RESTful actions and cleanly separates and decouples the database, UI, and event-handling functionality. If you forget the divisions and, for example, interrogate the database directly from the view, you'll wind up with a buggy application that needs to be refactored to become maintainable, just as you would in Rails.

Browser Link
When developing a Web application, it's very common to have multiple browsers open and pointing to the page under development. As you made changes, you used to have to update all the browser windows manually and test in them. In other cases, simple updating could be problematic, such as when JavaScript or CSS files changed.

Browser Link fixes that by creating a real-time, two-way connection using SignalR between Visual Studio 2013 and all the browsers you connect to your locally hosted debug-mode site. Again, this isn't your father's Microsoft: It works with any browser you wish to use, not just the latest version of IE, and it works with browsers running in device emulators/simulators.

With Browser Link set up, you can see all the browser windows reflect every edit or style update. You control the refresh from Visual Studio 2013 and it pushes the refresh to the browsers, so you don't have to touch all the browser windows manually. This can be a real timesaver. It's also a good case for having at least two monitors on your development computer.

Another new way to view Web pages from within Visual Studio 2013 is to use the Page Inspector, an internal browser that integrates with IntelliTrace, the debugger, and the code editor to help you understand the connection between your code and what is displayed.

True Web app monitoring
Unfortunately, no matter how well you set up your tests and your debugging environment, some bugs will only show up on a production system. That's true of desktop programs in the field to some extent, but it's even more common to have this problem on multi-user Web applications that use many services.


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