Getting Set up for Development with Visual Studio

Elements integrates with Visual Studio 2013, Visual Studio 2015 and (new in Elements 9.1, Visual Studio 2017 as its Windows development environment. If you have a copy of VisualStudio (not Express) installed, the Elements installer will simply integrate with it; if you do not, then the installer will offer to install Visual Studio 2015 Shell for you.

Visual Studio 2015 comes included with Elements, no separate purchase is necessary. Visual Studio 2015 Community and Visual Studio 2017 Community are also avilable for free from Microsoft, here:


Visual Studio and the Elements compiler require Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or later, and the .NET Framework 3.5 or later.

Depending on what platforms you wish to develop for, the Elements compiler has a few prerequisites you may need to install in order to have all the tools you need to get started with the platform.

Setup for .NET and Mono Development

No further prerequisites are required for .NET and Mono development.

Setup for WinRT and Windows Phone Development

If you are using Visual Studio Community Edition or higher, you should be all set to develop for WinRT/Metro and Windows Phone out of the box.

Unfortunately, the designers and tool chain support for WinRT and Windows Phone do not come included with the edition of Visual Studio (the Shell) that we can ship in the box with Elements. But worry not, if you are using this edition, you can manually install the necessary tools in two ways.

  • Option one, you can go ahead and update to the Community Edition of Visual Studio, which is available free of charge (but with some license/usage limitations if you are working for an Enterprise or large company).

  • Option two, you can download the Visual Studio Express edition(s) and install them. Installing Express will essentially deploy a second copy of Visual Studio on your system. You will not be using that edition directly, but as part of its install, it also integrates the proper designers and tool chain support into the Shell.

  • Download "Visual Studio Community"

Setup for Java and Android Development

You need to install the Java Development Kit (JDK) version 7 or later to develop Java apps. To develop Android apps you will need to install both the JDK, and the Android SDK.

Setup for Cocoa Development

A Mac running Xcode 5 or later and CrossBox is required to build Cocoa apps for Mac or iOS in Visual Studio (you will work on Windows, but Elements will communicate with your Mac in the background).

Setup for Island Development

No additional dependencies are needed for developing Island projects for Windows from Visual Studio.

If you have a 64-bit version of Windows 10 Creators Update or later installed, you can also use the local Ubunto sub-system ("Bash on Windows") to debug Linux applications, as well.

Otherwise, you will need a Linux server or VM with an open SSH connection in order to test and debug Linux applications from inside Visual Studio. See CrossBox 2 for more details.