Visual Studio 2015 Preview Adds iOS Debugging and Incremental Build Support

Microsoft has added iOS debugging in addition to the existing support for Windows and Android. The support is available for both Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 and Visual Studio 2015 Preview, which is the latest edition.

With the help of this new feature announced at the recently held Connect() event, developers will be able to make use of Cordova tools to stay in Visual Studio for the majority of development requirements.

The Visual Studio remote build agent has added incremental build support. It retains last several builds and if Visual Studio detects that a previous build is still present, reuses the existing native build artifacts, and only transmits deltas to the remote build agent on OSX.

Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova

The output of the above mentioned incremental build support is that projects with Cordova plugins will be able to build within 54 seconds initially. The subsequent builds takes only 7-12 seconds. You will experience significant improvements if you are connecting to an OSX box on a slow or busy network.

The Visual Studio Tools for Apache Cordova make use of a remote agent running on OSX to build, simulate, run and debug an iOS version of your app right from Visual Studio.

After installation of remote agent on OSX machine, you need to select either the “Remote Device” or “Simulator -*” debug targets in Visual Studio to automatically build, deploy, launch, and attach the JavaScript Debugger, DOM Explorer and JavaScript Console to your running app.

It is then possible to inspect and edit the live DOM, diagnose layout, trace the matching CSS rules for each element, set breakpoints in code, evaluate JavaScript expressions and view console.* messages.

You will be prompted to provide a PIN into Visual Studio in addition to host and port when you attempt to set up the remote agent.

Visual Studio Security PIN

“Starting with Tools for Apache Cordova CTP3 and the Visual Studio 2015 Preview, Visual Studio transmits build payloads securely by default and entering the temporary PIN causes Visual Studio and the agent to exchange certificates for securing a connection,” said Chuck Lantz, Program Manager, Visual Studio Client Tools Team.

When you secure remote connection using PIN, it enables you to keep your personal agent running on a remote Mac anywhere you see fit (even a cloud hosted data center) while helping to ensure that only you have access to build payloads, the iOS Simulator, and the new debugging tools.

Microsoft has published a tutorial to help you get the agent up and running in a cloud hosted datacenter such as MacInCloud, MacStadium. It provides several low cost options that enable you to not only use cloud build but also make use of the full extent of remote agent’s capabilities.

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