Visual studio

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Visual studio

Visual Studio 2017 logo and wordmark.svg
Vs2012 RTM en IDE.png
Visual Studio 2012
Basic data

developer Microsoft Corporation
Publishing year 1997
Current  version 2019
(April 2, 2019)
operating system Windows
programming language C ++ , C #
category IDE
License EULA ( proprietary )
German speaking Yes
Visual Studio for Mac

Visual Studio 2017 logo and wordmark.svg
Basic data

developer Microsoft Corporation
Publishing year 2017
Current  version 2019
(April 2, 2019)
operating system macOS
programming language C #
category IDE
License proprietary license

Visual Studio is an integrated development environment for various high-level languages offered by Microsoft .

The current version 16 for Windows (Visual Studio 2019) supports Visual Basic .NET , C , C ++ , C ++ / CLI , C ++ / CX , C # , F # , SQL Server , TypeScript and Python as well as HTML , JavaScript and CSS for developing web applications , Windows desktop and Windows Store apps. Visual Studio enables programmers to develop native Win32 / Win64 programs as well as applications for the .NET Framework . In addition, Windows apps , dynamic websites or web services for the Internet / intranet or Azure services can be developed with Visual Studio . Another focus is the development of mobile apps for Windows Phone , Android and iOS with tools provided by Xamarin .

The first version of Visual Studio for macOS (Visual Studio 2017 for Mac) was released on May 10, 2017. It is based on Xamarin Studio. With Visual Studio for Mac it is possible to develop applications and games based on Xamarin , .NET Core and Unity . Target platforms are Android, macOS, iOS, the web and the cloud. Mainly C # and F # as well as HTML, CSS and JSON are supported.



Visual Studio is considered a comfortable development environment with many functions. The editor supports e.g. For example, online help depending on the cursor position , the fading in and out of code blocks, color highlighting of key words, automatic syntax check and IntelliSense , the automatic addition of methods and functions while entering the source text. Furthermore, the development environment offers graphic interfaces for the integration of web services , ActiveX and .NET libraries, a "Server Explorer" for access to data sources such as B. Microsoft SQL Server , the Windows message service or WMI , as well as WYSIWYG editors for developing the user interface of Windows and web applications, for editing icons and XML documents.

Since Visual Studio .NET (2002) the range of supported languages ​​has increased significantly. A Microsoft certification program, which enables third-party providers to offer their own languages ​​as supplements to Visual Studio, has an impact here. Examples are Delphi , Eiffel , F #, or Prolog . In Visual Studio 2008, support for Microsoft's Java variant Visual J # was discontinued.

Visual Studio includes a built-in debugger . This contains the "edit and continue" function and allows subsequent appending to processes that are already running, both on the local computer and via the network.

For the development of ASP.NET applications, Visual Studio version 2005 or higher contains an integrated web server, so that you no longer need your own IIS installation. Also new in this version are functions for refactoring , which were previously available through additional products ("add-ins") such as ReSharper or Refactor! Pro had to be retrofitted.


Visual Studio provides a variety of editors for developing the applications . Some important ones are:

  • Code editors for the programming languages mentioned above (textual)
  • Editors for graphical user interfaces (graphical)
  • Database / database schema editors (graphical, partly textual)
  • Editors for HTML websites (graphical and textual)
  • Editors for XML , XSLT , stylesheets and various XML-based configuration files (textual)
  • Editor for XSD (graphical and textual)
  • Graphic editors ( icons and raster graphics )
  • Editors for binary files (semi-graphic)
  • Editors for creating installation programs for applications (graphical)
  • Class Diagram Editor (graphical, from Visual Studio 2005 on)
  • Sequence Diagram Editor (graphical, from Visual Studio 2010 on)

All text editors support syntax checking (correctness of the source code), syntax highlighting , IntelliSense (automatic suggestion of elements) and autocomplete (automatic completion of elements).

Version history (Windows)


version Appearance
Version number
internally Project
folder file (* .sln)
97 1997 05 no
6.0 1998 06th
.NET Feb 13, 2002 07th 07th
.NET 2003 Apr 24, 2003 07.1 08th
2005 0Nov 7, 2005 08th 09
2008 Nov 19, 2007 09 10
2010 Apr 12, 2010 10 11
2012 Sep 12 2012 11 12
2013 Oct 17, 2013 12 12
2015 20th July 2015 14th 12
2017 07th Mar 2017 15th 12
2019 0Apr 2, 2019 16 12

In addition to the official marketing name (e.g. Visual Studio 2015 ), there is an internal version number for Visual Studio, which is 14 in VS 2015. The version numbering of the format of the solution files (* .sln) is not identical to the internal VS version numbering. Since VS 2012, the version number of the format of the solution file has remained unchanged, so that there is forward compatibility with later VS versions.

Version 97

Before Visual Studio 97 appeared, Microsoft's programming products were marketed individually. After Visual C ++ 4.0 had already received an integrated development environment (IDE) from the end of 1995 with the “Developer Studio” , which was also used by other languages ​​and tools (in particular Fortran , Visual SourceSafe , Visual J ++ and the MSDN Library), Microsoft from 1997 onwards all current products are also available in a package. Visual Studio 97 appeared in two editions: The "Professional" edition includes Visual Basic 5.0, Visual C ++ 5.0, Visual FoxPro 5.0, Visual J ++ 1.1 and Visual InterDev 1.0 (a new product for developing web applications), as well as InstallShield ( in a reduced Free Edition) and finally a number of SDK tools. The “Enterprise” version also has version management Visual SourceSafe, Microsoft's SQL Server 6.5, Microsoft Transaction Server and other database tools. "Fortran PowerStation" is not part of Visual Studio, probably because Microsoft had discontinued the product shortly before and propagated the Fortran translator from another provider. The included compilers no longer support 16-bit code. Three (cumulative) service packs have been released for Visual Studio 97.

Version 6.0

Visual Studio 6.0, released in 1998, is largely comparable to the previous version; it was again released in two editions. The individual products here all have version 6.0 (although in some cases version numbers were simply skipped). In addition to many improvements, the collection of development tools and additional components is even more extensive, especially in the "Enterprise" edition. However, it was precisely this scope that made it quite clear at the time that Visual Studio was basically not a “one-stop shop” product. While some programming languages ​​share an IDE, Visual C ++, Visual Basic, and Visual FoxPro come along with their own development environments. A number of tools also need to be installed separately. On the other hand, the help and documentation, based on the MSDN Library, now includes practically all products under one roof (a fact that does not always simplify the targeted information search). A total of six service packs were released for Visual Studio 6.0, of which SP 5 was cumulative, SP 6 only related to Visual Basic and Visual C ++.

Then the era of "classic" development tools ended at Microsoft. The subsequent versions of Visual Studio are based on the .NET Framework and also have a significantly different composition.
Visual J ++ was discontinued after Sun prohibited further development (or terminated the Java license granted ). Visual FoxPro was still released in versions 7.0, 8.0 and 9.0, but only as a single product. Visual Basic 6.0 was still relatively popular for a long time because it was the last version for creating native Windows programs. Microsoft has released a support statement for the product as well as individual security updates.

Version .NET

Visual Studio versions 7 ( "2002") and 7.1 ( "2003") received the suffix ".NET" (ie Microsoft Visual Studio .NET ) since version 7 for the first time allowed the development of applications that run on Microsoft's .NET - Platform ran. The focus of this version was the introduction of the .NET Framework 1.0 as well as the associated new programming languages C # , J # and Visual Basic.NET . All three are only suitable for developing programs that run under the .NET runtime environment. Visual Basic.NET replaced Visual Basic 6 , whose compilations still ran natively under Win32 and which was not developed further.

Version 2005

The successor "Visual Studio 2005" uses version number 8 internally. Here the suffix ".NET" has been dropped to make it clear that it is also possible to develop native programs with this product (but only in C ++). The development environment itself needs the framework, but leaves it up to the developer whether the programs should be based on it or not, depending on the programming language used. With VS 2005 programming for the .NET Framework 2.0 was accelerated. Another plus point is the integration of so-called MDAs . With the slimmed-down Visual Studio Express editions (e.g. Visual C # 2005 Express Edition), free development environments from Microsoft were available for the first time.

Version 2008

Visual Studio 2008 (internal version number 9) is geared towards the new possibilities of the .NET Framework versions 3.0 and 3.5 and offers e.g. B. with LINQ new functions. J # is no longer part of the scope of delivery and is also no longer available separately because development has been discontinued.

The Service Pack # 1 (short SP1) was released on 11 August 2008 for the German-speaking world. Service Pack 1 for the .NET Framework version 3.5 is also included. This service pack addresses issues identified through working with Microsoft customers and partners and through internal testing. These service packs also provide improvements in responsiveness, stability, and performance.

Up until Visual Studio 2008, the .NET Compact Framework also supported software development for mobile devices such as smartphones and PDAs . Starting with Visual Studio 2010, Windows Phone development support is available instead .

Version 2010

Visual Studio 2010 (internal version number 10) has an extensively revised user interface that is based on the Windows Presentation Foundation and supports several connected monitors. F # is now being shipped with Visual Studio for the first time. In addition, a new extension interface for the code editor has been introduced. Visual Studio 2010 also includes a new so-called review debugger, which can display runtime information (e.g. variable contents) of executed code that is before a breakpoint. 64-bit compilers are also available. As in the previous version, Visual Studio 2010 provides an integrated web server for development.

The official release date for Visual Studio 2010 (together with the .NET Framework 4.0) was March 22nd, 2010, but because of the unsatisfactory working speed of the beta versions, the release date was postponed to April 12th 2010, which is ultimately also was adhered to. At the beginning of December 2010, the beta test of the first service pack for Visual Studio 2010, which was published in March 2011, began.

With this version Microsoft discontinues the support of Windows 2000 as target platform. Program files created with Microsoft Visual C ++ 2010 require at least Windows XP with Service Pack 2 , since the "Visual C ++ 2010" runtime libraries are based on functions of the Win32 API that were not yet available in earlier versions of Microsoft Windows. However, Visual Studio 2010 allows the “toolset” of Visual Studio 2008 to be used (if this is also installed on the developer system) in order to continue to support older Windows versions as the target platform.

Version 2012

Along with the Windows 8 -Entwicklervorschau ( Developer Preview ) was introduced in late 2011, the beta of Visual Studio 11, which was later named as "Visual Studio 2012" (internal version number 11). Visual Studio 2012 has been optimized primarily for programming so-called Metro apps , which can also be programmed with HTML5 , JavaScript and CSS3 . Developers can then publish these directly in the Windows Store . Furthermore, it should improve the effectiveness of programming with fewer controls at the top and bottom and a more restrained design.

With the native compiler of Visual Studio 2012 it was initially no longer possible to create applications programmed in C ++ that would run under Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Only newer operating systems are supported. The compiler support for Windows XP and Server 2003 was upgraded as part of the first update for Visual Studio 2012, which for this purpose also includes an earlier version of the Windows SDK (the current version of the Windows SDK that was delivered with Visual Studio 2012, still does not support Windows XP). From the beginning, there was also a “multi-targeting” mechanism in Visual Studio 2012 with which the Visual Studio 2010 compilers, which support Windows XP and Server 2003, can be started from the Visual Studio 2012 environment.

The project types setup project and merge module project , which were still supported in the previous version , with which Windows installer packages (MSI files) or merge modules (MSM files) could be generated relatively easily without additional tools, are no longer available in Visual Studio 2012 .

Version 2013

Visual Studio 2013 (internal version number 12) contains some improvements over Visual Studio 2012; H. increased support of the ISO-C / C ++ standard, improved C ++ libraries and higher performance in the C ++ area. New functions were added in the JavaScript area. F # has also been improved and at the same time, Visual Studio 2013 also added support for the .NET Framework 4.5.1. The Just my Code function (which skips system, framework functions, etc.) was built into the debugger and the Edit and Continue functionality (changing the source code and allowing the program to continue running) for 64 bit was added (native C / C ++ programs will still be not supported by Edit and Continue ). Furthermore, the possibility of analyzing the main memory in the .NET Framework and improvements in unit tests have been added.

Version 2015

For the 2015 version there were a number of CTP (Community Technology Previews) releases and a Visual Studio 2015 preview from November 2014. Visual Studio 2015 (internal version number 14) was delivered on July 20, 2015.

Innovations for .NET development are the changeover to the new Roslyn compiler platform, support for topics such as ASP.NET and Web Development vNext or .NET Native for apps . A new view "Diagnostic Tools" shows the CPU and memory usage of the application.

For the first time, the IDE offers the possibility of explicitly saving, using or managing views (i.e. the window layout). As before, different operating states (such as debugging and code editing) have a view adapted to the mode. There were extensions in the area of ​​C ++. There is a new compiler option called "Control Flow Guard", which is supposed to reduce the vulnerability of C / C ++ programs. However, this must be actively switched on by the developer. In addition, software development for Android is supported by a "Visual Studio Emulator for Android" and for iOS .

In Visual Studio 2015, support for the .NET Framework 4.6 and the Kinect for Windows 2.0 SDK was added. The Microsoft Foundation Classes are no longer installed by default, but must be selected explicitly.

The 2015 version includes .NET Native , a precompilation technology for building and distributing Windows apps.

Version 2017

On March 30, 2016, Visual Studio "15" Preview was released. "15" represented the internal version number. On November 16, 2016, Microsoft announced that the new version would be called "Visual Studio 2017" and at the same time published a release candidate. The final version 15.0 was published on March 7, 2017. Since then there have been a number of updates, including functional enhancements.

The installer has been fundamentally revised and accelerated. It now makes it possible to control in great detail which development components are installed. It is permanently available as a stand-alone program and also supports updating the installation (controlled by the user).

There are quite a few changes as to the paths, for example

  • the program is no longer installed under C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 1x.0, but under C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\20xx\<Name der Edition>.
  • the scripts for setting the environment variables c:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\20xx\<Name der Edition>\VC\Auxiliary\Buildcan be found under .

In addition, the IDE can only be set up using the web installer, as the ISO installation file that was previously available is no longer available with this version. At least 35 GB of disk space is required to download the product for installation in an offline environment.

With version 15.7, the development of .NET Core and ASP.NET Core is fully supported and the new language features of C # 7.0, Visual Basic 15, Type Script 2.1 and F # 4.1 are provided. There have been numerous other improvements and bug fixes, which can be found in the official release notice.

Version 2019

The version Visual Studio 2019 (internal version number 16) for Windows and Mac has been available since April 2, 2019. In December 2018, the first preview versions were published as part of the Connect (); conference. Innovations are u. a. a revised dialog for starting new projects, AI-supported input assistance ("Intellicode"), improvements in debugging and refactoring as well as the "Live Share" function for remote collaboration on shared code. The new version 8 of the C # programming language and the third version of the .NET Core framework were released together with version 16.3 in September 2019.

Visual Studio editions

Commercial editions

version default professional Enterprise Test Prof. Premium Ultimate Team system Academic
97 (1997) No Yes Yes No No No No No
6.0 (1998) No Yes Yes No No No No No
.NET (2002) No Yes Yes / Yes No No No No Yes
.NET 2003 No Yes Yes / Yes No No No No Yes
2005 Yes Yes No No No No Yes No
2008 Yes Yes No No No No Yes No
2010 No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No
2012 No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No
2013 No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No
2015 No Yes Yes Yes No No No No
2017 No Yes Yes Yes No No No No
2019 No Yes Yes No No No No No

Commercial variants up to Visual Studio 2008

  • Standard Edition
  • The Professional Edition includes additional integration with Microsoft SQL Server , a remote debugger and the ability to develop programs for mobile devices and Microsoft Office applications (with the Visual Studio Tools for Office ). This variant is also available in an Academic Edition , which is legally comparable to the SSL versions of Microsoft Office .
  • With Team System is a collection of several different, tailored to specific roles developer editions: Architecture Edition , Database Edition , Development Edition , Test Edition . Team System is used to manage the entire application lifecycle for software teams . As a backend is Microsoft Team Foundation Server uses. The Team System Editions are therefore designed for professional development use and are mainly found in medium-sized and large software companies.

Commercial editions from Visual Studio 2010

With the release of Visual Studio 2010 (on April 12, 2010) the division into different "editions" was changed: Visual Studio 2010 Professional, Visual Studio 2010 Premium, Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate and Visual Studio 2010 Test Professional are available.

  • Visual Studio Professional has the core functions for development for Windows, Web, SharePoint, Cloud and other platforms.
  • Visual Studio Premium has all of the functionality of Visual Studio Professional. There are also functions for database development and quality assurance.
  • Visual Studio Ultimate takes the place of Visual Studio Team System and covers the entire application lifecycle management .
  • Visual Studio Test Professional is a test solution that is integrated with the Team Foundation Server .

Commercial editions from Visual Studio 2015

Since VS 2015 VS is only available in the commercial editions Professional, Test Professional and Enterprise. The latter combines the previously available Premium and Ultimate variants.

Free editions

Express editions Community
Visual Web
Windows TFS,
Azure DevOps
C # C ++ VB J #
2005 No Yes No No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No
2008 No Yes No No No No Yes Yes Yes No No
2010 No Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
2012 Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No No No No
2013 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No Yes
2015 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No Yes
2017 Yes No No Yes ("TFS 2018") No No No No No No Yes
2019 No No No Yes No No No No No No Yes

Express editions

The Express Editions are free, but stripped-down versions of Visual Studio, which are available from Visual Studio 2005 onwards.

Up to and including Visual Studio 2010 there was a separate edition for Windows applications in C #, in J # (2005 only), in Visual Basic and in C ++, as well as one for ASP.NET web applications in several .NET languages. In Visual Studio 2010 there was an edition for building apps for Windows Phone . In version 2012, the three editions for C ++, C # and VB were combined into one edition for “Windows Desktop”, and an edition for Windows 8 apps and the server application “Team Foundation Server Express” were added. In the 2013 and 2015 versions, the versions for Windows Phone apps and Windows 8 apps were replaced by a version for Windows Store apps. In Visual Studio 2017 there is only the Express edition for Windows Desktop, the other editions are still available for download in version 2015.

The express editions were initially intended to be available free of charge for promotional purposes for a limited period of time, but quickly developed into a contemporary programming tool for schoolchildren and others who can do without the services of the full versions . Ultimately, through the permanent availability of the express versions , Microsoft was able to increase market penetration, reduce the demand for black copies and alternative competing products and improve its image without disrupting sales of the full versions. The Express editions can initially be used for 30 days, after which a free registration with Microsoft is required for further use.

The Express editions lack capabilities such as remote debugging, teamwork, connection to a source code management system, connection to the MFC . Also, no applications for mobile devices can be designed from the earlier versions. Additional tools such as the resource editor or the 64-bit compiler are also missing. Projects that include the afxres.h file can still be compiled if you include the windows.h file at this point instead.

The Express Editions may also be used for commercial projects, and programs and works created with them for which you yourself hold the copyrights may also be used, sold or published for commercial purposes.

However, liability for damage and commercial distribution is excluded in the license conditions. In addition, they oblige the user to "indemnify Microsoft against all claims and defend against all claims, including attorney fees, in connection with the distribution or use of your programs." The license conditions also contain an “approval for internet-based services” “without separate notice”.

Community edition

On November 12, 2014, a new free version of Visual Studio 2013 appeared for the first time, which largely corresponds to the Professional Edition in terms of functionality and, according to Microsoft's plans, should replace the Express Editions. It is called Community Edition and, like the Express Editions, can be used for commercial projects, but is limited to companies with a maximum annual turnover of 1 million US dollars and five users. Private users, schoolchildren, students and educational institutions may use this edition indefinitely, and the development of open source projects is also allowed with it without limitation.

This Community Edition is also available free of charge for Visual Studio 2015, 2017 and 2019 with corresponding license restrictions. The Community Edition requires registration with Microsoft within 30 days.


Visual Studio LightSwitch

LightSwitch is a variant of Visual Studio that is specifically used for the Rapid Application Development software development model . The first LightSwitch version appeared as a separate product in 2011. As of version 2013, Lightswitch was included in Visual Studio Professional and higher. LightSwitch is a tool for the rapid development of data-driven business applications in the form of desktop or web applications. For such applications it offers a considerable simplification of the development compared to the conventional Visual Studio, so that it can also be used by less experienced developers. The environment provides preconfigured components, including standard input masks. Applications created with LightSwitch can also be edited in conventional Visual Studio and made available to users under Microsoft Azure .

Microsoft announced in October 2016 that it would no longer develop LightSwitch. LightSwitch is no longer included in Visual Studio 2017; Microsoft calls the PowerApps, which is offered as SaaS , as its successor .

Azure DevOps (until 2018: Visual Studio Team Services)

Azure DevOps is a service from Microsoft with which applications can be developed collaboratively using cloud computing . It is a version of Team Foundation Server hosted in the cloud (from version 2019: Azure DevOps Server ). It includes options for application lifecycle management , including version control and build management. The product appeared in 2013 initially under the name Visual Studio Online and as the successor to the Team Foundation Service previously offered by Microsoft. In April 2015 the renaming to Visual Studio Team Services was announced, in September 2018 the product was renamed again and has been called Azure DevOps since then .

Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code is a free editor, officially available since the beginning of 2015, which is used for cross-platform development of web applications. It works on Windows as well as Linux and macOS as a desktop application. Erich Gamma was also responsible for the development of VS Code . Not yet available as an open source application at first, it was announced in November 2015 that VS Code would become an open source project. VS Code also supports IntelliSense . In April 2016, VS Code left the beta phase and Microsoft released the first final version of the software.

See also

Web links

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