This week Microsoft released preview 3 of Visual Studio 17.5. The preview boasts a spell checker for comments, ‘intent-based suggestions’ and a rich Markdown editor by default.

Microsoft Group Product Manager Anthony Cangialosi detailed the preview’s offering in a blog post. “This release continues to bring new productivity improvements for all developers and enhances many of the capabilities that shipped in 17.5 Preview 2”, he says.

ML code suggestions

Cangialosi goes on to explain the ‘intent-based suggestions’ feature, which “uses Machine Learning algorithms to understand the context of your code and suggests relevant changes based on the changes you are making”.

This is yet another example of a current trend in modern developer tools. AI-assisted programming features are increasingly prevalent. GitHub Copilot was released with AI-assisted tools last year, and others are set to follow suit.

Accessibility and spell checks

The Visual Studio preview also comes with an integrated ‘Accessibility Checker’. This feature “detects many common accessibility issues for XAML-based desktop applications”, Cangialosi adds, noting that the checker uses the same axe-windows engine as Accessibility Insights, a tool used by Visual Studio’s team for internal accessibility testing purposes.

Furthermore, Cangialosi sheds light on a new spell checker. “Developers take pride in their code, and a misspelt word can be embarrassing”, he observes. The checker works for comments as well as code. When correcting an identifier, the checker will apply refactoring to rename all instances.

In addition to the above features, a Markdown editor first shown in preview 2 is now the default for Markdown files. This supports semantic colouring in the editor, a preview pane and the new spell checker.