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At VSLive! 2004 Microsoft Lures Developers with Productivity : Page 3

Announcements at this year's VSLive! conference make it clear that productivity and development-speed enhancements are the new competitive landscape.


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New Controls/Templates
Whidbey contains a huge number of new controls and templates for both Web and Windows development—far too many to mention here. You can see more in-depth information on some of the new controls and other Whidbey features in: Exploring New WinForm Controls in VS .NET Whidbey

Simplifies Browser Client Script Callbacks Touring Whidbey's Base Class Library Enhancements

Whidbey's New Wizard Control Adds Navigational Power ASP.NET gets "visual inheritance for the Web" in the form of Master Pages. A Master Page may contain the overall layout, design, and base behavior for a set of pages, while individual page using that Master page provide the logic and content. At design-time, the Master Page displays as a transparent background layer over which you can drag and drop the controls appropriate for the current page. You can read more about Web site development in Whidbey in Creating Web Sites with ASP.NET Whidbey.



New application and form templates, such as a login page fully connected to Windows authentication, can significantly speed up common types of developer tasks. In another popular move, Microsoft has finally created a managed-code WebBrowser control, which fixes the problems that dogged the ActiveX version when running in COM Interop mode in .NET, such as the BeforeNavigate2 Event Not Firing.

New Project Properties
The Project properties settings have been greatly extended, giving you access to a set of tabbed pages that let you control every aspect of your application, including adding, and editing settings that appear in the application configuration file. ASP.NET gets a new Web Application Administration tool that lets you configure security, personalization, and configuration settings, among other features. One welcome new project property for Windows Forms applications is a "Run as Single-Instance" option. When you select that option, if a user tries to launch more than one instance of your application, they instead get switched to the instance that's already running. Of course, if you don't like that behavior, you can override it—the already-running version of the application raises an event, which you can use to provide a custom message or take special actions.

Promised Language Enhancements Are Real, But Delayed
Finally, despite the new focus on productivity, Microsoft has not neglected language evolution, nor has it lost track of performance. The list of language enhancements that Microsoft announced last year, such as generics, iterators, partial types, and anonymous methods, have all found their way into the Whidbey language versions. Microsoft remains committed to performance, and maintains that they won't let efforts toward productivity at design time interfere with performance at run time. Despite the still-long wait until Whidbey's release, developers seemed both optimistic and pleased with the new features. Most of the developers I talked to were still either experimenting with .NET or deep in the throes of implementing it. That's particularly true for Windows Forms developers, because it seems that rollout of ASP.NET is already well under way, and in many cases, complete. That's only natural, because installing the framework and running ASP.NET on a Web server is far simpler, strategically, than rolling out the .NET framework to every potential user. I seriously doubt that the additional few months' delay will cause many developers to jump ship. If the delay results in a better product, the wait will have been well worthwhile.



A. Russell Jones is the Executive Editor at DevX. Reach him by e-mail here.
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