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An Introduction to Visual Studio.NET Whidbey : Page 3

Alan Griver describes the new features included in Whidbey.


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IDE and Tool Enhancements
Visual Studio .NET Whidbey is more than changes to languages and Frameworks—there are a host of enhancements to the IDE itself, as well as a number of new tool capabilities. Like the language enhancements, there are a number of core changes, and some that affect only specific languages. Core IDE and Tool Enhancements
The core IDE enhancements include:

  • Community Web services that are maintained on MSDN and accessed via the Visual Studio .NET IDE. These Web services allow you to extend your IDE over time with new starter kits, project templates, "my" classes, reusable code snippets, controls, etc. Basically, you can get enhancements to your development environment as they are made available—all within the shell.
  • New extensibility allows you to extend your development experience in a similar way. You can create your own reusable code snippets, profiles, etc., and make them available to others.
  • Documentation and Help have been greatly enhanced, making it easier to find what you're looking for, with the addition of a large number of new samples that you can use immediately.
  • Visual Studio .NET Whidbey ships with a new color-coded and intelligent XML Editor as well as a new XSLT debugger.
  • There is Help in authoring common coding tasks. These tasks can be user-defined as well, allowing a team of developers to automate their own standard tasks.
  • Debugging has added a concept called Debugger Visualizations. These allow you to view complex data types in appropriate viewers, and are extensible for any unique types you may create. For instance, a dataset viewer can allow you to view the dataset in a grid from the debugger.
  • Building your application has been taken to the next level through the integration of MS Build. This engine has a documented file format and is XML-based, allows you to have fine-grained control over your build process, and integrates into the Visual Studio .NET IDE for those who build within the environment.
Visual Basic IDE Enhancements
Unique to Visual Basic .NET, you will see tools that enhance the RAD development process:
  • Auto-correct for common programming errors, including syntax and semantic errors
  • Edit and Continue is back in Visual Basic .NET. This iterative development and debug capability, when combined with the advanced error correction and code analysis available, provides the most powerful and flexible debugging experience ever.
  • A better Command window experience, allowing for a more iterative development process.
Visual C++ IDE Enhancements
The Visual C++ Whidbey IDE includes improved IntelliSense, Caller/Callee browsing, easy importing of source code, inference rule support, property sheets, command line build capability, and easy targeting of 64 bit platforms and WinCE devices.

Visual C# IDE Enhancements
Visual C# has added some tools that enhance code-focused RAD development. Refactoring: These tools allow disciplined code restructuring



Code Formatting: This allows you to format your code, defaulting to the .NET coding guidelines, and can be shared with teams. Things I Can't Cover
In addition to what I've discussed, there are a slew of other enhancements. I especially would like to call out two other major features:

  • Integration with Microsoft Office 2003 System, providing a schema-based programming model and allowing you to use managed code with Word 2003 and Excel 2003.
  • SQL Server "Yukon" (the next version of SQL Server) allows you to write stored procedures, table-valued functions, user-defined types, and more, in managed code, and debug seamlessly between TSQL and managed code.
I hope that you have a good idea of the type and scale of enhancements coming in the next major version of Visual Studio .NET. For a product roadmap that includes Visual Studio .NET Whidbey and beyond, see http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/productinfo/roadmap.aspx.


Alan Griver is Group Manager for the Visual Studio Data Team at Microsoft. Reach him here.
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