Visual Studio Code update previews source change visualization, initial release breaks on older Macs

Visual Studio Code update previews source change visualization, initial release breaks on older Macs

The Visual Studio Code (VS Code) team has released version 1.91 with new features including visualization of source code changes, TypeScript 5.5 support, and auto detection of Python environments – but users report that the initial release does not work on older versions of macOS.

The latest update to VS Code, following its usual monthly release cycle, has a bunch of new features, the most eye-catching being a visualization of source code changes and history. Billed as an experimental feature, this shows a graph view of incoming and outgoing changes, including the current branch, the upstream branch, and an optional base branch. Incoming changes can be previewed via the git fetch command. The option was well received in the related GitHub issue.

Source code changes can now be visualized in a graph view

Another new feature is Python environment discovery. Written in Rust, this is a new tool which detects global Python installations and virtual environment. The feature is not very visible to the developer unless the Python log is studied; there is also a new experimental setting Python:Locator for “implementation of environment locators” which offers a choice between JavaScript and native. Our initial impression is that native is much faster, as one might expect.

Python developers are also now able to send multiple lines of code to the REPL (Read-Eval-Print-Loop) in the terminal without selecting them first, via a new Smart Send feature. Note that Microsoft also introduced a new native REPL for Python in the previous release, enabled via a setting, which adds Intellisense and syntax highlighting.

A profiles editor has been introduced in this release, again as an experimental setting. Profiles are excellent for developers who work on different types of project in the same VS Code installation and the new editor makes them easier to manage.

A full account of new features in this release is here.

The update has been marred for some by annoying new bugs, particularly for those on older versions of macOS who found that the update did not work at all on Catalina (macOS 10.15) or Big Sur (macOS 11.x). “Feel very distressed and helpless,” said one developer with the issue, the fix for which currently is to revert to VS Code 1.90.

Why do developers run old versions of macOS? “This particular installation is a developer test machine that won’t/can’t be updated past Catalina,” said another, reporting the problem.

The team is investigating though, apparently, noting: “There has not been any obvious runtime changes in this update that could trigger this.” Support for old versions of an operating system is often problematic for developers; but as one observed, if a new version of VS Code does not run, it should not attempt to update itself.

Another initial issue is that the option to “select a language” after creating a new empty file in VS Code does not work.

VS Code always follows up a new release with a recovery plan to fix breakages and for June 2024 (the name of the 1.91 release) both the macOS and the select language problem are already listed, so one hopes a fix will be available soon.