What's Hot

Get Yer Hot New Downloads

There's too much going on in the Visual Studio space for any one developer to keep track of it all?so we're going to do it for you. New downloads available include Visual Studio SP1 and the latest Orcas CTP.

Welcome to the inaugural edition of What's Hot, where we profile what's new and exciting in the world of Visual Studio development.

In this space, we hope to keep you up-to-date on important downloads and announcements pertaining to development with Visual Studio. Note that this space is intended for all Visual Studio developers, with a special emphasis on Visual Basic .NET and C# developers.

It can be difficult to have a full-time job and also make sure that you are up-to-date on current technologies. Indeed, there is far too much information out there for any one developer to keep track of. So we intend to simplify that task for you, giving you a one-stop place that tells you about the significant new releases that are pertinent to you as a developer.

This month brings Visual Studio developers many significant downloads from Microsoft, including Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1, the first official release of AJAX.NET, some Domain Specific Language (DSL) tools, and more.

Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1. You can download SP1 for VS 2005 here. This service pack fixes more than 398 documented bugs in the product (learn more about what it fixes here). You've probably encountered many of these bugs (knowingly or otherwise), so SP1 is worth the install. The only caveat is that the installation is a lengthy process. You should allow at least one hour for the update to take place.

AJAX.NET 1.0. This tool is designed to work with Visual Studio 2005 and the .NET Framework 2.0. AJAX.NET gives you a simplified way to implement in-page call-backs, which makes it easier for you to create Web pages that look and feel more interactive. The nice thing about this tool is that it is entirely free, and it includes the source code! No, you're eyes aren't deceiving you: This is an open source project from Microsoft.

One important caveat: Be sure to test this tool against all your client machines. For example, IE6 requires permissions to run both ActiveX and JScript. IE7 and Firefox require only that scripting be enabled. Download this tool here.

Domain Specific Language Tools. Microsoft released the Domain Specific Language tools a few months ago, but I'm still excited about them. If you are doing any code generation and want to have a designer or design-time interaction, then the DSL tools are for you. Download them as part of the Visual Studio 2005 SDK 3.0 at here.

ILMerge. This free utility enables you to merge multiple .NET assemblies into a single .NET assembly. Download this handy utility at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=22914587-b4ad-4eae-87cf-b14ae6a939b0&DisplayLang=en.

Visual Studio Code Name "Orcas"—January 2007 Community Technology Preview (CTP). This latest release for the Orcas bits is missing many of the implementations you can expect to see in the near future. That said, the documentation is becoming noticeably more complete. Still, I wouldn't recommend downloading this unless you have a lot of time on your hands. Instead, you're probably better off waiting for the next release of the tool. In any case, you can download the latest CTP for the tool at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=1ff0b35d-0c4a-40b4-915a-5331e11c39e6&DisplayLang=en

About the Author

Bill McCarthy is an independent consultant based in Australia and is one of the foremost .NET language experts specializing in Visual Basic. He has been a Microsoft MVP for VB for the last nine years and sat in on internal development reviews with the Visual Basic team for the last five years where he helped to steer the language’s future direction. These days he writes his thoughts about language direction on his blog at http://msmvps.com/bill.

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