Microsoft releases Visual Studio “15” Preview 5 with performance and memory improvements

Kareem Anderson

Another day another Microsoft service in previews gets released. Today, October 5, 2016, Visual Studio “15” previewer users can get their hands on Preview 5.

With Preview 5 being released, users should notice “a big step forward in performance and memory efficiency” according to the Visual Studio team.

More specifically, Preview 5 users will benefit from faster loading times when compared to Visual Studio “15” used by the general public. The Visual Studio team achieved the speed boost by tweaking some of the on-demand loading extensions as well as working on the following:

  • Shorter solution load time with lightweight project load: Working on solutions that contain upwards of 100 projects doesn’t mean you need to work with all the files or projects at a given time. VS “15” provides editing and debugging functionality without waiting for Visual Studio to load every project. You can try out this capability with managed projects in Preview 5 by turning on “Lightweight Solution Load” from Tools -> Options -> Projects and Solutions.
  • Faster startup with on-demand loading of extensions: The idea is simple: load extensions when they’re needed, rather than when VS starts. In Preview 5 we started this effort by moving our Python and Xamarin extensions to load on demand and are working on moving all extensions we ship with Visual Studio and extensions shipped by third party extension vendors to this model. Curious about which extensions impact startup, solution load, and typing performance? You can see this information in Help -> Manage Visual Studio Performance. Do you develop an extension? We will be publishing guidance to help extension developers move to on-demand loading.
  • Moving subsystems from the main VS process to separately processes: We moved some memory-intensive tasks such as Git Source Control, and our JavaScript and TypeScript language services to separate processes. This makes it less likely for you to experience delays caused by code running in the main Visual Studio process, or Visual Studio becoming sluggish and even crashing as the main process approaches the 4GB memory limit of 32-bit processes. We will continue to move components out-of-process in coming releases.
  • Faster project load, coding, and debugging for C++: We have made loading C++ projects faster. Check out this video showing the improvement. You can enable this by setting “Enable Faster Project Load” to True from Tools -> Options -> Text Editor -> C/C++ -> Experimental. We have also made improvements to our linker and PDB loading libraries to make incremental builds and launching the debugger much faster while significantly reducing memory consumption while debugging.
  • Improved speed of Git source control operations by using git.exe: We have improved debugging performance by optimizing initialization and other costs related to IntelliTrace and the Diagnostic Tools window, and removed several delays that occur when editing and switching between XAML files.

As far as making improvements for the sake of productivity, Preview 5 users will now be able to play around with a new Predicative IntelliSense, and IntelliSense filtering features for code editing in C#, VB, C++ and XAML environments.

Other improvements include Quick Fixes and Refactorings for C# and Visual Basic as well several navigational additions for getting moving around larger code bases.

Lastly, Debugging has gotten some much-needed love with a new feature called Run to Click which enables users to run and stop lines of code more freely rather than setting breakpoints.

Today’s update appears to be a healthy exercise in implementing user feedback in a forward thinking way. The new features in Preview 5 should have Visual Studio users making better use of the environment while trimming time off their development cost.