In-Depth

New VS 2005 Features Showcased at VSLive!

Visual Studio 2005 will increase developer productivity with a 50 to 75 percent code reduction, said BJ Holtgrewe in the opening keynote at VSLive! Orlando this week.

Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) editions captured the spotlight in BJ Holtgrewe's opening keynote address for Fawcette Technical Publications' VSLive! conference in Orlando this week. Addressing a standing-room-only crowd of more than 1,000 attendees, Holtgrewe—Microsoft's lead product manager for Visual Studio—opened with the obligatory references to Connected Systems, platform-agnostic Web services, developer productivity, business insight, "mission-critical" applications, and .NET's momentum as a development platform. BJ went on to claim that "more than half of all development is done in a .NET platform" and "today the [.NET] programming jobs that are out there are just tremendous."

Holtgrewe is responsible for product planning and marketing for Visual Studio Tools for the Microsoft Office System (more commonly called Visual Studio Tools for Office or VSTO), so it's logical the he was Microsoft's front man for the announcement of a new VS 2005 edition: VSTO. You heard it first here—VSTO will join Express, Standard, Professional, and the three Team System editions (Architect, Developer, and Test) as a VS stock-keeping unit (SKU).

VSTO Edition incorporates the features of VS Pro and adds VSTO, which indicates to me that VSTO won't be an optional add-in for release versions of the other editions (see Resources). BJ's "Lifecycle" slide showed a total of 11 VS 2005 SKUs, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a VSTS "Project Manager Edition" SKU emerge on November 7, 2005 or later.

More Power With Less Code
Eleven minutes into his 50-minute presentation, Holtgrewe turned to the subject of the keynote, "Visual Studio 2005: More Power With Less Code Now," by stating that VS 2005 will increase developer productivity with a 50 percent to 75 percent code reduction for most Web and smart-client scenarios, even from previous VS versions. He said that the reduction comes from "some code that is built into the .NET Framework and some in partial classes" or code written for you by wizards.

He said that projects that took 10,000 lines in an unspecified language now take 1,000 to 2,000 lines in .NET, and gave an apocryphal example where VSTO reduced 600 lines of code to one. I'm suspicious of episodic productivity analyses, but there's no question that VS 2005 reduces the number of lines of code for binding data sources to controls. ClickOnce for smart-client deployment also is a major time saver for developers.

Eric Lee, a Microsoft product manager for Visual Studio Team System, provided a guided tour of VSTS by starting as an Architect using drag-and-drop to add a Web service to an AdventureWorks demo app and generate invocation code (see Resources). Eric then changed to the Developer role and demonstrated writing "high-quality and secure code" while ignoring repeated appearances of exception message boxes.

Eric also applied unit tests to the code; code coverage analysis distinguished lines of code covered (green) and not covered (in red). Both examples displayed similar exception messages, which will presumably disappear before release. Code analysis tools that are a result of Microsoft's "Trustworthy Computing Initiative" incorporated the lessons learned from security issues and buffer overflows over the years. Code analysis scans instructions like a grammar checker and flushes out potential issues.

Finally, Eric incarnated as a Tester to demonstrate a project build summary, which testers can check to see if the current build contains a fix for a specific bug or a required feature. Testers can kick off a load test simulating hundreds of users; load tests chart Windows performance counters in real time.

Jay Schmelzer, the lead program manager for the Visual Basic team, used a clone of My.Blogs, a sample VB 2005 Weblog-reader application (see Resources) to demonstrate the simplicity of coding application-wide properties and events with the new My namespace members. Jay showed how to use the My.Computer.Network.IsAvailable property and the NetworkAvailabilityChanged event in conjunction with VB method refactoring. (The My.Blogs project is designed to run under VS 2005 beta 2 and needs fixing to add feeds under the current release candidate.)

Prix Fixe vs. A La Carte
BJ closed the ceremonies with an analysis of free software—Eclipse from IBM and Eclipse from "Other Java" sources—vs. the somewhat pricey (by earlier Visual Studio standards) VSTS editions. Holtgrewe extrapolated the VSTS prix fixe license cost of USD $30,300 for an integrated development environment, advanced development and modeling tools, Web simulation test tools, load testing with 2,500 simultaneous users, change management, and project management. A la carte Eclipse equivalents from IBM weighed in at USD $104,300 and "Other Java" sources tipped the scales at $140,000 for allegedly equivalent functionality. I would have been fully convinced of the VSTS cost advantage if BJ had priced a typical enterprise-level license acquisition with, say, four architects, two project managers, 15 developers, and 25 testers.

About the Author

Roger Jennings is an independent XML Web services and database developer and writer. His latest books include "Special Edition Using Microsoft Office Access 2007" (QUE Books, 2007) and "Expert One-on-One Visual Basic 2005 Database Programming" (WROX/Wiley, 2005). He’s also a VSM contributing editor and online columnist and manages the OakLeaf Systems blog. Jennings’ Code of Federal Regulations Web services won Microsoft’s 2002 .NET Best Horizontal Solution Award. Reach him at Roger_Jennings@compuserve.com.

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