Microsoft today announced that Visual Studio 2019 for Windows and Mac has hit general availability — you can download it now from visualstudio.microsoft.com/downloads. Visual Studio 2019 includes AI-assisted code completion with Visual Studio IntelliCode. Separately, real-time collaboration tool Visual Studio Live Share has also hit general availability, and is now included with Visual Studio 2019.

Microsoft launched Visual Studio 2017 in March 2017 and Visual Studio 2017 for Mac in May 2017, which turned out to be the “most popular Visual Studio release ever.” The company announced Visual Studio 2019 for Windows and Mac in June, and started releasing Visual Studio 2019 previews in December.

Visual Studio 2019 improves on Visual Studio 2017 across the board. It includes a new start window experience to get developers into their code faster (making it simpler to clone a Git repo or to open an existing project or folder), improved template selection screen, increased coding space, a new search experience, more refactoring capabilities, a document health indicator, and smarter debugging. Plus, all of the above works with both your existing project and new projects — from cross-platform C++ applications, to .NET mobile apps for Android and iOS written using Xamarin, to cloud-native applications using Azure services.

New features

The new start window on launch is designed to work better with today’s Git repositories, including local repos, Git repos on GitHub, and Azure Repos. Git aside, you can still open a project or a solution or create a new one of either.

Visual Studio 2019 start window

Visual Studio’s UI and UX have also received subtle changes, such as a new product icon, a cleaner blue theme, and a more compact title and menu bar. There’s also a new search experience that replaces the Quick Launch box. It lets you find settings and commands and install options, and it even supports fuzzy string searching.

Visual Studio 2019 search

Visual Studio 2019 improves the code maintainability and consistency experiences with new refactoring capabilities — such as changing for-loops to LINQ queries and converting tuples to named-structs. There’s also a new document health indicator and code clean-up functionality.

Visual Studio 2019 health

As for debugging, stepping performance is improved and search capabilities have been added to the Autos, Locals, and Watch windows. You can also expect improvements to the Snapshot Debugger to target Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) and Virtual Machine Scale Sets (VMSS), and better performance when debugging large C++ projects, thanks to an out-of-process 64-bit debugger.

Visual Studio 2019 watch

IntelliCode and Live Share

At its Build 2018 developers conference in May, Microsoft previewed IntelliCode and Live Share. The former uses AI to offer intelligent suggestions that improve code quality and productivity, and the latter lets developers collaborate in real time with team members who can edit and debug directly from Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code.

Visual Studio Intellicode

Visual Studio IntelliCode now has custom models and expanded language support. Custom models further improve the AI-enhanced IntelliSense, giving developers personalized recommendations based on the patterns and libraries used in their code, on top of the analysis made on thousands of open source repos. Visual Studio developers now get IntelliCode for XAML and C++ code, in addition to C#. Visual Studio Code developers can use IntelliCode when developing JavaScript, TypeScript, Python, and Java.

Visual Studio Live Share

Visual Studio Live Share, which is now installed by default in Visual Studio 2019, helps developers collaborate in real time, including desktop app sharing, source control diffs, and code commenting. Being able to share, edit, and debug code is great, but being able to do so without needing to clone repos or set up environments is even better. Based on feedback, Microsoft also added features like read-only mode, support for additional languages like C++ and Python, and enabled guests to start debugging sessions. Live Share can be used in a variety of use cases, including pair programming, code reviews, giving lectures, presenting to students and colleagues, or even mob programming during hackathons.

Learning Visual Studio 2019

For a full run-down of all the additions and improvements, check out what’s new, the docs, and release notes (Windows, Mac). Furthermore, Pluralsight has a free Visual Studio 2019 course available until April 22, while LinkedIn Learning has a free course available until May 2.

Microsoft is also hosting a virtual Visual Studio 2019 Launch Event and over 70 local launch events around the world today where it will demo the new version and detail its features. The company has also planned over 200 more events between now and the end of June. If all else fails, there’s always the Visual Studio Developer Community.