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What's new for design in Visual Studio 2017

Applies to: yesVisual Studio noVisual Studio for Mac


This article applies to Visual Studio 2017. If you're looking for the latest Visual Studio documentation, see Visual Studio documentation. We recommend upgrading to the latest version of Visual Studio. Download it here

Live dependency validation

Removing unwanted dependencies is an important part of managing your technical debt. Visual Studio provides live validation of dependencies, including precise information about issues, such as where they are located. Live dependency validation takes full advantages of new features in the Error List and the editor.

Live dependency validation in action

The authoring experience has changed to make dependency validation more discoverable and more accessible. The terminology has changed from "Layer diagram" to "Dependency diagram".

The Architecture menu now contains a command to directly create a Dependency diagram:

Live dependency item on Architecture menu

Layer property names and descriptions have been changed to make them more meaningful:

Live dependency updated property names

You immediately see the impact of your changes in the analysis results for the current code in the solution each time you save the diagram. You don't have to wait for the completion of the Validate Dependencies command.

For more details, see this blog post.

UML designers have been removed

The UML designers have been removed from Visual Studio.

  • UML diagrams are now presented as XML files
  • The UML Model Explorer no longer exists
  • Modeling project references are no longer used for dependency validation
  • The "Layer References" node in Solution Explorer is no longer displayed
  • The "Validate" build action on a Dependency (Layer) diagram is no longer used - the Build task has been removed
  • The project structure is maintained for round-tripping between versions
  • You can still open, create, edit, and save a Dependency (Layer) diagram as XML
  • TFS work items linked to a Dependency (Layer) diagram are not accessible on the design surface
  • Back linking from to DSL or a Layer is no longer supported
  • UML extensibility in the Modeling SDK is no longer supported

Support for visualizing the architecture of .NET and C++ code is available through code maps.

If you are a significant user of the UML designers, you can continue to use Visual Studio 2015 or earlier versions while you decide on an alternative tool for your UML needs.

For more details, see this blog post.


The Text Template Transformation component is automatically installed as part of the Visual Studio extension development workload. You can also install it from the Individual components tab of Visual Studio Installer, under the SDKs, libraries, and frameworks category. Install the Modeling SDK component from the Individual components tab.

Edition support for architecture and modeling tools

Visual Studio is available in several editions. Not all of these provide support for the architecture and modeling tools. The following table shows the availability of each tool.

Feature Enterprise edition Professional edition Community edition
Code maps Yes Only supports reading code maps, filtering code maps, adding new generic nodes, and creating a new Directed Graph from a selection. -
Dependency diagrams Yes Only supports reading dependency diagrams. Only supports reading dependency diagrams.
Directed graphs (DGML diagrams) Yes Yes Yes
Code clone Yes - -