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The Baker's Dozen: 13 Reasons to Upgrade to Visual Studio 2005 : Page 3

Visual Studio 2005 offers new capabilities in many different areas, such as data access, language enhancements, IDE productivity features, deployment, Office integration, XML, and many others!




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Reason 5: New Controls and Capabilities in Web Forms
I'll freely confess that I've done very little production work with Web Forms. I've concentrated on Windows Forms. However, Microsoft has made significant enhancements to Web Forms and ASP.NET 2.0. In fact I'm devoting some serious study time towards them. Developers who previously dismissed Web Forms may want to take a look at the new capabilities in 2005. In the last few months, I've attended several excellent sessions on ASP.NET 2.0 that I'm using as training guides, so I'll list the on-line versions of their presentations here Suggested reading:

  • The MSDN CodeCamp
  • in Philadelphia had multiple sessions on ASP.NET 2.0. Go to www.phillydotnet.org/codecamp and search the Sessions page.
  • Multiple articles in the March 2005 issue of CoDe Magazine
  • The Web Applications chapter from Jesse Liberty's new book, Visual C# 2005 - A Developer's Notebook
  • CoDe Magazine author and Microsoft MVP Miguel Castro has performed excellent sessions on ASP.NET 2.0. I've attended his sessions and I highly recommend them. His site is www.dotnetdude.com .
Reason 6: New Click-Once Capability
Visual Studio .NET 2003 featured No-Touch deployment. Visual Studio 2005 takes the concept one step further with Click-Once, a technology that allows developers to build a smart-client (Windows Form-based) application, publish the application in Visual Studio 2005 as a ClickOnce application, and deploy the application to users via a Web browser. When the developers update/upgrade the application on the server, they can do it in such a way that users will be automatically notified. Suggested reading:

  • ClickOnce: Deploy and Update Your Smart Client Projects Using a Central Server, by Brian Noyes (MSDN)
  • Brian Noyes also presented a session at the MSDN CodeCamp in Philadelphia on ClickOnce. Go to www.phillydotnet.org/codecamp and search the Sessions page.
Reason 7: New Features in the Visual Studio 2005 IDE
When developers start using the new IDE, they'll immediately find themselves more comfortable with it.
I'm very pleased with the new IDE in Visual Studio 2005. Once developers start using it, they'll immediately find themselves more comfortable with it. I find the new color-coded editor much easier and nicer to use than the editor in Visual Studio .NET 2003. I can create code snippets easily, and I find the new Help system much more powerful. From the IDE, I can easily access the MSDN-maintained Community Web services. I've been using different IDEs going back to the days of the Microsoft-Borland compiler wars (friendly wars), and can honestly say that the new IDE in Visual Studio 2005 is the best I've seen. Reason 8: SQL Server 2005 Enhancements
While this article focuses on Visual Studio 2005, a significant percentage of .NET applications use SQL Server for the back-end: no doubt many of those applications will be running against SQL Server 2005 in the future.

From an application developer's standpoint, there are two sets of enhancements to discuss: enhancements to the T-SQL language and the integration of the .NET CLR with SQL Server 2005. T-SQL Enhancements:

PIVOT/UNPIVOT: Use these operators to rotate rows into columns, and vice-versa. The APPLY operator allows a developer to specify a table-valued UDF in a FROM clause for each row in a table. The UDF can utilize columns from the source table as parameters. This can be helpful when creating a result set with calculated columns.

The TOP clause can now specify an expression as the number (variable) instead of a literal. You can also use TOP with INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE commands to limit the number of rows affected. CTEs (Common Table Expressions) allow developers to create recursive queries. They are similar to derived tables or views with the added capability of traversing recursive hierarchies in a single query.

SQL Server 2005 contains new data types: XML, VARCHAR (MAX), NVARCHAR (MAX), and VARBINARY (MAX). A developer can use the XML type to define parameters for stored procedures and UDFs. The types with MAX can optionally store up to 2 GB of data. Also, SQL Server 2005 implements TRY…CATCH error handling. Finally, SQL Server 2005 can output a query plan as XML.

Integration with the CLR
This is a complex topic that I can hardly do justice to in a few paragraphs, so in the suggested reading below I'll mention several good sources. Suggested reading:

  • Rod Paddock (Editor-in-Chief of CoDe Magazine) presented Custom Data Types and Aggregates at a conference. You'll find his presentation on the download page of his Web site. He has written Creating User-Defined Data Types in Yukon (CoDe Magazine, January 2004).
  • SQL Server 2005 T-SQL Enhancements by Jim Duffy (CoDe Magazine, March 2005)
  • Bob Beauchemin, Niels Berglund, and Dan Sullivan have written an outstanding book, A First Look at SQL Server 2005 for Developers

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