The latest Community Technology Preview of Visual Studio 2015 contains a dizzying array of changes, some of which include whole new features as well as several harder-to-see bits of awesomeness.

Microsoft unleashed a whirlwind of new capabilities to the public at large with CTP 6 for Visual Studio 2015 as well as the first CTP for Visual Team Foundation 2015.  Here’s a quick overview of some of these new features:

  • Single Sign On – Microsoft has unified the authentication mechanisms used for Windows Azure, Windows Store, MSDN Subscriptions, and Visual Studio Online to provide a more seamless way for developers to move between services.
  • ASPNETStarterNew ASP.NET Project Templates – The ASP.NET team has added new ASP.NET 5 Templates including Preview Starter Web and Preview Starter Web API.  The Starter Web template provides developers with information on how to build their apps for Windows, Linux, or OSX directly on the home page.

gem-animationThe new Web API template eliminates all of the HTML and Razor markup that was originally part of the MVC project templates so you can build APIs without UI or as a starting point for a Single Page App (SPA).

  • Task Runner Explorer – This windows has been updated to make running automated tasks like grunt or bower more intuitive.
  • System References – The ability to reference assemblies in the System namespace has been added back, with those references now being moved to the project.json file.
  • ASP.NET Project Properties Pages – Project Properties Pages have been improved to allow configuration of the build and debug process for your ASP.NET application.
  • Better support for Grunt, Bower, npm, and Gulp – Intellisense support for grunt, gulp, bower, and npm configuration files has been added along with enforcement of JSON schemas.  The files are now also transportable between Windows, Linux, and OSX.

gem-animationSaving bower.json and package.json will automatically restore new packages in the background immediately, no manually rerunning gulp or grunt.

  • KPM updates – The KPM tool has been updated and several of the subcommands have been renamed and two new subcommands (packages and list) have been added.
  • 1362.powershellScript.png-550x0Powershell Website Publishing Scripts – The Publish Website wizard now allows you to generate a Powershell script to publish your website that can be modified to include custom tasks.
  • New Identity Updates – Authentication in your ASP.NET web apps has been improved to include OpenID Connect and OAuth2 bearer token middleware components as well as ensuring that the authentication logic used in older 4.6 templates follows the same model as the “Configure Azure AD Authentication” dialog which allows you to modify your authentication scheme at any time in the project.
  • Enhanced HTTP Client – The System.Net.Http.WinHTTPHandler API has been improved to be faster and manage memory more efficiently.  It also provides developers using System.Net.Http.HttpClient more control over features like automatic decompression, handling of redirects, managing cookies, SSL authentication, and timeouts.
  • Better Xamarin Integration – Support has been added for building C++ libraries in Android projects.
  • Hybrid Mobile Apps (Apache Cordova) Debugging – New device support has been added to the debugging experience and with this CTP release you can now debug Windows Phone 8.1 apps.
  • CodeLens views of GIT and TFS History – CodeLens provides a quick, context aware view into the history of your code and in this release support has been added for Git source control and TFS work items.
  • unugetiNuGet 3.0 Beta – NuGet is getting a UI makeover to enable better discovery of packages including the UI no longer being modal and also being dockable.  There are quite a few other UI changes and for a side-by-side comparison you can view this video on the NuGet blog.
  • XAML UI Live Visual Tree – XAML is getting a new DOM inspector during debugging called Live Visual Tree.  This lets the developer drill down through the control hierarchy to find the item they are looking for and make changes to any DependencyProperty objects.
  • .NET Debugging – Debugging .NET applications has received several improvements including performance enhancements for debugging third party libraries, improved Edit & Continue support for iterators and async/await, and adding nested top level types like delegates, enums, and interfaces.

gem-animationObject ID support is back in CTP 6 which allows developers to mark an object instance and track its state over the life of an application, even when not in scope of the current debugging context.

  • VisualStudioEmulatorforAndroidVisual Studio Emulator for Android – The Visual Studio Emulator for Android has been updated with support for Lollipop (API Level 21), OpenGL ES, multi-touch simulation, and advanced camera features.

You can get the latest Visual Studio 2015 CTP here.  If you prefer to run the CTP in a VM, check out the latest builds on Windows Azure here.