Build 2013 has been a bit of a whirlwind. Trying to process announcements about everything from Windows 8.1 to Project Spark over the course of just a few hours of keynotes was pretty overwhelming. One of the things that didn’t get a ton of exposure on stage is what’s coming for ASP.NET developers in Visual Studio 2013, paired with Web Essentials.

Visual Studio 2012 with Mads Kristensen’s Web Essentials extension is already a great web development environment. If you’re working on ASP.NET sites, Visual Studio is the only game in town, but I even know non-developers who use the free Express version for editing static HTML sites because it works well for them.

Not perfect

However, there have been features in newer editors like WebStorm and Sublime Text that I did miss in Visual Studio.

Intelligent auto-completion of attribute name and values based on what you’ve used previously, for example, is a really great feature when you’re working with frameworks that are driven by data- attributes.

LiveReload is another feature that’s popular in other editors, but not supported as well on Windows or in Visual Studio. It’s not always useful on more complex pages, but can speed you up significantly in the right situations.

More than just catching up

Visual Studio 2013 has both of those features now, along with better “surround with”, better keyboard navigation through HTML documents, reliable HTML code formatting that doesn’t wreck your markup, SignalR-based Browser Link (i.e. LiveReload++), and more.

After using Visual Studio 2013 and Web Essentials for a few days, I don’t see myself needing or wanting to use those other editors very much in the future.

I could go on, but Mads had a great breakout session at Build covering the new capabilities in both Visual Studio 2013 and Web Essentials, and why ongoing improvements may begin coming more quickly. The “one more thing” moment came when he switched the Web Essentials Github repo from private to public, live on the stage:


If that leaves you wanting more, Hanselman also did an episode of Hanselminutes with Mads, talking about these new features and improvements.

Try it for yourself

Like Visual Studio 2012 before, VS2013 supports round-tripping with older projects. So, you can start using Visual Studio 2013 with your real projects right away. Give it a try today.

VS2013 preview:

Web Essentials 2013: