MS Unwraps Latest Visual Studio and .Net Framework

Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2008 and .Net Framework 3.5 have been released to manufacturing and are now available for MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) subscribers to download, the company announced Monday.

Included in Visual Studio 2008 are enhancements such as visual designers for faster development with the .Net Framework 3.5, significant improvements to Web development tools and language enhancements that speed development with all types of data, Microsoft said. The platform provides developers with all the tools and framework support required to create compelling, expressive, Ajax-enabled (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) Web applications, it added.

.Net Framework 3.5, meanwhile, builds incrementally on the new features added in .Net Framework 3.0, including feature sets in Windows Workflow Foundation (WF), Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Windows CardSpace. Version 3.5 also contains a number of new features to avoid breaking changes, Microsoft said.

250 New Features

“Visual Studio 2008 delivers over 250 new features, makes improvements to existing features including performance work on many areas, and we’ve made significant enhancements to every version of Visual Studio 2008, from the Express Editions to Visual Studio Team System,” said S. “Soma” Somasegar, corporate vice president of the developer division at Microsoft.

“In Visual Studio Team System in particular, I’m pleased with the progress we made in scalability and performance for Team Foundation Server (TFS),” he added.

Although the products are now available for download, they won’t be officially released until February.

Web 2.0 Functionality

Visual Studio 2008 delivers improved language and data features, such as Language Integrated Query (LINQ), that make it easier for individual programmers to build solutions that analyze and act on information. It also provides developers with the ability to build applications that target the .Net Framework 2.0, 3.0 or 3.5, supporting a wide variety of projects in the same environment, Microsoft said.

New tools speed the creation of connected applications on the latest platforms including the Web, Windows Vista, Office 2007, SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008, while other additions help improve collaboration in development teams, including tools that help integrate database professionals and graphic designers into the development process.

New features in .Net Framework 3.5 deep integration of LINQ, ASP.Net Ajax and new Web protocol support for building WCF services including Ajax, JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), REST (Representational State Transfer), POX (Plain Old XML), RSS (Really Simple Syndication), Atom, and several new WS-* standards.

Together, Visual Studio and the .Net Framework reduce the need for common plumbing code, reducing development time and enabling developers to concentrate on solving business problems, Microsoft said.

Hitting a ‘Sore Spot’

“I think the LINQ feature is really the No. 1 new feature in Visual Studio,” Greg DeMichillie, lead analyst at Directions on Microsoft, told TechNewsWorld.

All programmers write programs that access data, using either Visual Basic or C# with SQL, DeMichillie noted. LINQ makes it easier to write code that queries databases, and so is a particularly important addition because it “really hits a sore spot for developers,” he explained. “Virtually 100 percent of customers will end up using that feature.”

Life Cycle Management

.Net Framework 3.5 will also help visual designers create and manage graphically rich Web 2.0 software, Melinda Ballou, program director with IDC, told TechNewsWorld. In addition, Visual Studio 2008’s TFS makes improvements in both performance and version control, she said.

“My main concern about Web 2.0 development is the need to do better quality testing,” Ballou added. Web 2.0 applications, because of their complexity and incorporation of diverse types of data, require different steps in managing the life cycle, she noted.

“I look forward to companies such as Microsoft and others providing effective life cycle management support for both Web 2.0 and service oriented architecture (SOA)-based software,” Ballou said.

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