Essential reading for Visual Studio 2013, MVC 5 and Web API 2

It’s here! Visual Studio 2013 has just hit with an announcement here and downloads here plus a launch in four weeks. No, I don’t quite understand what a launch next month means when you can grab it now either but the important thing is that the new software has landed.

In times gone by I’ve written my own overviews of what’s new in the VS IDE plus the frameworks and projects templates that launch with it but there’s so much good reading out there now that I’m going to take a little short cut and just link you through to the good stuff with a few brief intros. It’s by no means exhaustive, but it’s what I reckon deserves a good look at. Enjoy!

Signing in

It just wouldn’t be the year 2013 if you weren’t signing in and syncing stuff to the cloud! Catch up with why this is a good idea in Welcome. Sign in to Visual Studio.

Social authenticators

What better way to solve the age old password storage conundrum than to make it someone else’s problem! Ok, there’s good sides and bad sides to that but regardless, there’s some neat template work already done in VS 2013 to make that option easy so check out Create an ASP.NET MVC 5 App with Facebook and Google OAuth2 and OpenID Sign-on

Authentication changes

There’s a bit to absorb here in addition to just the social authenticators. Partly this is changes in the templates and partly new options in the IDE but both are worth being aware of. Have a look at both Authentication methods and Organizational account authentication options over on the ASP.NET website.

ASP.NET Identity

If I’m honest, I think the whole membership thing has been rather confusing over recent years. Different providers, different credential storage, different project templates and so on. ASP.NET Identity promises to start unifying things a little better and it’s now baked into all the new templates so it’s worth getting to grips with. See Introducing ASP.NET Identity – A membership system for ASP.NET applications for more info.


You know it to look at, even if you don’t know it to build with. Bootstrap is now “the way” to start rapidly building cross browser compatible, responsive websites. It’s either that or the devil’s spawn depending on who you talk to. Either way, it’s in there and every new web project starts with it so best you start reading up on it. Oh – and Microsoft just managed to slip Bootstrap 3 into the RTM where earlier previews were all Bootstrap 2.

.NET 4.5.1

Wait – what?! That’s right, by semantic versioning standards this is a patch on 4.5 – but it’s not (only) about bug fixes. There’s actually new stuff in this version of the framework, particularly around making things go faster. Check out Announcing the .NET Framework 4.5.1 Preview then also take a look at ASP.NET App Suspend – responsive shared .NET web hosting.

Attribute routing in MVC 5 and Web API 2

You probably didn't know you wanted this but trust me, you do! Get rid of the kludge of custom routes with all sorts of constraints and get with the (new) program. Take a look at Attribute Routing in Web API 2 and remember that it applies to MVC 5 as well. Essential reading.

Peeking into definitions

This is one of those very cool, very handy and “will totally improve your productivity by x%” features. Peek Definition brings referenced code bang into the same window as the code that’s calling it so it’s now dead easy to figure out what’s happening behind that poorly named method you’re inspecting. There’s a nice overview at How to: View and Edit Code Definitions in the Peek Definition Window.

Browser link

If you’re building web apps, THIS! No really, it’s rather awesome and makes a hell of a difference when you’re trying to build and test cross-browser compatible websites, including mobile (apparently everything must be mobile friendly these days). Head on over to Browser Link feature in Visual Studio Preview 2013.

Entity Framework 6

Bundled in with all the other goodness is the latest incarnation of EF. It’s like EF 5, only better. But seriously, EF is a significant part of the .NET ecosystem and it’s also bundled in with the project templates so it’s getting a hell of a run at the moment. Go take a look at EF6 Release Candidate Available then send all confused questions to Julie Lerman :)

Facebook template

You know that little site with a billion users? The PHP one? There have been plenty of ways to build ASP.NET apps for Facebook for some time now but VS 2013 takes it a step further and bundles in a template so it’s an absolute cinch now. Check out Creating Facebook Template in Visual Studio 2013 Preview and see how you can get started in building the next Farmville (ok, please don’t do that)!

Creating Azure websites from VS 2013

No really, how cool is that?! The place where you build your apps can now also be the place where you provision your hosting service and of course then sync it all up. Going from zero to live website just got a whole lot easier and it can now all be done within the IDE. Check out Creating New Windows Azure Web Site from Visual Studio 2013 RC and have a good play with this one. Hint: if you need a management certificate for Azure, try this.

Upgrading from the old to the new

Okie dokie, now that you’ve read all that of course you want to go right out and upgrade all your MVC 4 and Web API 1 apps to the latest versions using that shiny new IDE, right? Course ya do! It’s pretty basic too, jump on over to How to Upgrade an ASP.NET MVC 4 and Web API Project to ASP.NET MVC 5 and Web API 2 and put yourself aside a little time to grab some new packages and update some config files.

Visual Studio .NET
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Hi, I'm Troy Hunt, I write this blog, create courses for Pluralsight and am a Microsoft Regional Director and MVP who travels the world speaking at events and training technology professionals