Release Candidate Unveiled for ASP.NET and Web Tools 2012.2

Late last week, Scott Hanselman, principal program manager lead in the Microsoft Developer division, announced the availability of the release candidate for ASP.NET and Web Tools 2012.2. The full-fledged update won’t happen until early next year, but users can download and play with the RC now. Hanselman revealed the details in his post. Those who are impatient to get their hands on the release candidate as soon as possible can check out the download page and release notes. It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that this isn’t an extensive remake of the software. Indeed, Hanselman  points out that “This is a tooling refresh of Visual Studio 2012 and extends the existing run time with new features without breaking existing applications.” Users will benefit from a nice range of new templates and features. While it’s unlikely that you’ll be interested in all of the new features, you’ll almost certainly find something you can make real use of. Take the new MVC templates, for example. You can use the MVC Facebook template to create Facebook apps. “In just a few easy steps you can create a Facebook Canvas Application that gets data from the logged in user” Hanselman noted. You may also appreciate the return of the Single Page Application template, which now lets developers build interactive web apps with the Knockout JavaScript library and a RESTful Web API. If you use Page Inspector, you’ll be delighted to hear that it’s been enhanced to include JavaScript selection mapping and to allow users to see CSS updates in real-time. Do you need to build web forms with clean URLs, without the .aspx extension? This package offers ASP.NET Friendly URLs, which allows you to construct extensionless web forms. “This can be used with existing ASP.NET 4.0 applications as well!” Hanselman declared. Developers adding mobile support to existing applications will also appreciate Friendly URLs, as the feature makes it easier to switch between desktop and mobile views. Another significant addition to this release candidate is real-time communication via SignalR. “This means SignalR, in case you haven’t heard, is a real and official thing,” Hanselman explained. “It’s fully supported by Microsoft.” Users will also find new Web API functionality. This includes support for Odata, tracing and generating a help page for your API. The new release candidate is part of Microsoft’s ongoing process to slowly externalize pieces of ASP.NET. Hanselman explained that the company is doing this “Because the Web moves faster than Visual Studio does. We want to be able to offer a stable ASP.NET core that you can count on while being able to offer new and powerful features more often as needed.” To that end, he emphasized that this is NOT ASP.NET 4.6 – and that it won’t be, even once the full-fledged version is released early next year. “This is mostly a tooling update as well as a collection of NuGet-based libraries that augment but don’t replace ASP.NET 4.5. If we called it ASP.NET 4.6 then folks would think they needed to rush to update their server. They don’t.” But with the RC available, you can see for yourself whether you want this update and what use you can get out of the new features.