by December 17, 2005 0 comments

A few years back, Microsoft gambled heavily with a new
strategy they were adopting and introducing into the Windows development world.
This was called .NET and was supposed to change the way developers worked. It
started off shakily and slowly, but is now among the top development platforms
available. Millions of developers around the world work on .NET to work with
small programs to enterprise-level applications. Of course, most of this has
been possible because of the excellent rapid application development tool from
Microsoft’s stables for .NET programming called Visual Studio. The latest
version of this tool-MS Visual Studio 2005 (VS05)-has been released
worldwide on November 7, 2005 with an Indian mega launch event planned for
December in the same year.

Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 
Std Edition: Rs 13,688, Pro Edition: Rs 36,578
Meant For:
Developers, architects, testers
Key Specs:
IDE, RAD tools, Windows, Web, Device programmability
Powerful RAD, excellent debugging, power Web app support
Cons: None
Microsoft, India.
RQS# E59 or SMS 131259 to 9811800601
View the property values and object hierarchy of an instance of any object within your code while debugging

VS05 is a fully revamped RAD tool and is as much a
technology jump from VS02/03 as they themselves were from VS6. VS05 is the
recommended RAD environment for working with the new .NET framework 2.0.

When you start VS05 for the first time, you are prompted
with a choice to make. You can select the kind of programming profile that you
will be working with the most. For instance, if you are a WinForms developer in
C#, there is a template that you can select. If you are a WebForms developer,
you can select that as well to be able to get the template you wish. Remember
that these templates are only for the look and feel and can be changed or
customized at any time.

Once VS05 starts up, you’ll notice that the interface has
been cleaned up significantly as well. However, most of the cooler changes come
in the actual development part. Here are some of the most significant
improvements in VS05.

Debugging enhancements
Debugging has always been a strong point of VS. In VS05, there are a few new
features that help you work while debugging.

Edit and Continue: This enables developers to make
changes to code during a debugging session and see the results of the code
change in the application that is running, immediately. This can be a great time
saver since making a small change in the code and viewing the results used to
mean stopping the debug, making the change, recompiling and starting the process
right from the very beginning.

Data Visualizers: Ever wanted to figure out what the
different properties of the different objects in your code are while debugging.
Putting watches can be time consuming as well as limiting-how do you define
which properties you want to see before knowing what you want to see? The new
data visualizers in a debug session let you hover over a particular object and
immediately see the entire object hierarchy in a cascading window style with all
the current values instantly.

Exception Handling: When your code crashes during a
debug session, VS05 throws up an exception-handling window that details why your
code crashed, what object/property was in error and which line it was in. Not
only this, it offers to create an exception handling routine for you in the
‘offending’ part of the code. You can even get more help about the error
from MSDN (local or online).

Development and coding
There are numerous improvements in the realm of creating an application in VS05.
Here are some of the more significant ones.

VSTO: This is a set of ‘Tools for Office’ APIs
that allow developers to quickly use MS Office functionality in their own
applications. No longer does one have to figure out the Office object hierarchy
and code. VSTO adds abilities to work with the Office applications directly
within VS05.

AutoFill Helpers: These helpers aid developers by quickly
filling up commonly used UI information automatically. For instance, most
Windows applications have a standard set of menus (File, Edit, Window, Help,
etc.) as well as a standard toolbar. Instead of having to create this in every
application, the developer simply clicks on the helper and it does this for the
developer. So you can start doing more important things than creating those same
menus over and over again.

Misc UI Helpers: There are many other UI helpers as well.
For instance, there are aids to help you align controls on a form without having
to resort to pixel positioning. There are other enhancements that enable you to
change properties for all the different controls on the form in one go.

Web applications
One of the areas where VS05 has greatly improved upon its predecessors is in
the area of Web development. Please note that the following are only a small
subset of enhancements and improvements in Web development in VS05.

Controls: There are over 50 new controls in VS05
that you can use in your Web application, which greatly reduce the amount of
coding and the time you require. These include things like login controls,
wizards, menus, treeviews and many more. Each of them are highly customizable
and can be templatized.

Data Access: Accessing data-both for display and
updates-is extremely easy now. A new set of data controls let you work with
different types of data- databases, Web services, XML, business objects,
etc-without even needing to code!

Declarative syntax: Most of the new features in VS05 Web
development can be done using XML declarative syntax. This reduces the back-end
code-both user written and automatically generated -to almost 10-15% of what
was there earlier.

Provider model: ASP.NET provides a number of
services-such as membership, role management, profiles, etc. All of these
store their data using different data providers. Which means that you can use
SQL Server, Access, a Web service or Oracle, etc. to store this without changing
any code in the front end.

Development Web Server: You don’t require an IIS
installed on your machine for doing Web development. VS05 has an internal Web
server that runs automatically when developing an application. The advantage of
using this is that the Web server is very lightweight and takes very little
resources. It also coexists peacefully with any other Web servers you might be
running on your machine and can be accessed only from the same machine itself
for security reasons.

There are many other enhancements in VS05. WE haven’t
talked about Visual Studio 2005 Team System and Team Foundation Server, which
are bigger and more comprehensive development platforms. Keep an eye on this
space for reviews of these in the future.

Bottom Line: VS05 is the premier choice for .NET
development. Microsoft’s RAD interface allows developers to be much more
productive in a shorter amount of time.

Vinod Unny,



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