Development Tools and Related Strategies for Public, Private, and Hybrid Environments

By Errin O'Connor posted 10-20-2014 19:28


Development Tools and Related Strategies for Public, Private, and Hybrid Environments


There have been many improvements as well as options added to Visual Studio 2013 to address the new technology releases of SharePoint 2013Office 365SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Azure.

EPC Group highly recommends that your organization’s developers have both on-premises and cloud development environment tools available so that they can become familiar with them, and also ensure that compatibility of a future architecture, as shown in the image below, is taken into consideration.


Visual Studio 2013 and Related Tools and SDK

Visual Studio 2013 is the enterprise development tool that should be used on almost any development initiative because the application life-cycle management as well as code repository integration and new SharePoint 2013 integration features make it the only tool available on the market with its capabilities.

Visual Studio 2013 has four available additions:

  • Visual Studio Ultimate
  • Visual Studio Premium
  • Test Professional
  • Visual Studio Professional

Visual Studio 2013 Advanced Development Environment

Visual Studio 2013 comes with several user interface improvements, with a friendlier “look and feel,” and updated icons with brighter colors and more differentiation, as shown in the image below. There are also improvements in the following areas:

  • Improved team explorer home page and pop-out panels for pending changes and builds
  • CodeLens (also called code information indicators) for greater project awareness and team integration
  • Scrollbar enhancements with code preview
  • Peek definition for in-code reference preview
  • Synchronize settings across devices
  • Automatic preview and trial registration features


What’s New in Visual Studio 2013 and .NET 4.5.1

The new Visual Studio 2013 has focused on three main areas of improved functionality to match that of the new .NET 4.5.1 framework, which are developer productivity, app performance, and continuous innovation, which provide for the following new features and capabilities:

Developer Productivity

  • Sixty-four-bit edit and continue
  • Method return value inspection
  • Async debugging enhancements, as shown in the figure below
  • Windows store development improvements
  • ADO.NET connection resiliency


App Performance

  • ASP.NET application suspension
  • Multicore JIT improvements
  • On-demand large-object heap compaction
  • Consistent performance before and after servicing the .NET Framework

Continuous Innovation

  • Curated .NET Framework NuGet packages
  • New and enhanced .NET libraries

Application Life-Cycle Management and Visual Studio 2013

The new features in the Visual Studio 2013 release had a strong focus on providing organizations with a way to manage the entire life cycle of the project while being able to improve team efficiencies with teams and manage backlogs.

The new agile portfolio management capabilities within Team Foundation Server (TFS) are meant to not only address any backlogs but also shorten the cycle times of new or existing initiatives. This is meant to lead to reduced risk as well as the associated costs of having to redesign or rework solutions, as shown in the figure below, because the transparency is much greater from initial requirements gathering all the way through design, development, and UAT.



CodeLens is probably one of the best features ever released in Visual Studio. It is almost like having a bit of “artificial intelligence” built in because it can let you know ahead of time whether one small change or update you are about to make will break large amounts of code.

The CodeLens feature can provide you with details about the code that you would never be able to come up with, and it does it on the fly.

This feature, though, has taken a lot of heat regarding its licensing strategy. It is currently available only in Visual Studio Ultimate, which most organizations do not have or really need to purchase. It’s a bit of a hidden gem that you may not ever be able to work with, but I am interested to see what the upcoming licensing models will provide for this feature.

You want to make a change to some code, but you’re uncertain what else will be affected if you do or whether you’ll end up chasing the ripples of your change throughout your entire code base. It’s important to know the answer because it affects the size of the work in front of you.

CodeLens, as shown in the figure below, provides a heads-up display with code indicators layered over the code editor for both classes and methods. Another great feature is the history and information that it can provide you about the code, which includes changing sets and authors and automatically providing unit tests for you behind the scenes. It is compatible with C#, Visual Basic, and C++. Keep your eyes open regarding the upcoming licensing changes because I am hopeful that Microsoft will unlock this feature to the masses.



Scrollbar in Visual Studio 2013

There is a new customizable scrollbar feature in Visual Studio 2013, as shown in the image below that enables you to click on the vertical scrollbar and then select Scroll Bar Options. At that point, you will see several new areas that can be modified, including an option to turn on annotations.

By turning on annotations, you will be shown special items throughout, as well as breakpoints and where bookmarks are located. This feature enables you to reveal any syntax errors the editor has identified, which may save you time by enabling you to catch something big or even very small before you compile your code.

Performance and Diagnostics Hub

The Performance and Diagnostic Hub is a new of feature in Visual Studio 2013 that you and your organization could immediately put to work to provide for items such as these:

  • Baseline understanding of SharePoint 2013 / Office 365 usage
  • Baseline server performance based on any custom applications that utilize the BCS or other APIs to access external data
  • Gathering SharePoint 2013/Office 365 metrics to develop updated service level agreements
  • Understanding the impacts of any BYOD efforts
  • Extranet traffic of customers, partners, or vendors
  • Performing an audit on your current SharePoint platform before a migration initiative
  • Understanding the impacts of any cloud initiatives
  • Gathering data to help the organization make IT roadmaps as well as SharePoint roadmap updates

The new Performance and Diagnostic Hub feature allows for nearly all of Visual Studio’s diagnostic tools to be run from one interface and for much easier analysis of various reports due to their being centralized.

Within one single hub, you can access the following tools:

  • Windows 8.1, HTML, JavaScript, and XAML app diagnostic tools
  • The various tools to run performance and diagnostic tests for .NET applications, as shown in the figure below



  • XAML UI responsiveness analyzer with its new support for Windows Store apps implemented with XAML
  • The HUB app’s new energy consumption profiler, as shown in the figure below



The energy consumption profiler provides analysis on an application’s impact on the battery life of the device, as well as providing estimates on the amount of overall power that will be consumed.

Other new tools provided are the Memory Dump Analysis capability for managed .NET applications and the IntelliTrace performance indicators for diagnosing performance problems, as shown in the image below, in production using Visual Studio 2013 in conjunction with System Center 2012 R2’s Operations Manager.


Providing the capability for an administrator and a developer to work together in diagnosing an issue will lead to that issue being resolved in a much faster manner because both the hardware side and the software side can work together and troubleshoot from two different perspectives. This will lead to items being quickly ruled out as a cause or issue.

EPC Group’s Nationally Recognized Practice Areas

EPC Group leading Custom Application DevelopmentSharePoint, Office 365, Infrastructure Design and Business Intelligence Practice areas continue to lead the way in providing our clients with the most up-to-date and relevant information that is tailored to their individual business and functional needs.

Additional "From the Consulting Trenches" development strategies and methodologies are covered in EPC Group's new book, "SharePoint 2013 Field Guide: Advice from the Consulting Trenches" covering not only SharePoint 2013, Office 365 and SharePoint Online but Information Management, ECM\RM and overall compliance strategies in this ever changing world of "Hybrid IT."

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