Inside Visual Studio 2008
Welcome to the Visual Studio 2008 special kickoff issue. It's always a big deal when Microsoft releases a new version of the product that this magazine is named after, and VS 2008 is no exception. As in the case of other recent Visual Studio releases, you can be forgiven for wondering: "Oh, you mean it wasn't out already?"
I rarely devote this page to discussing the contents of a given issue--I think you can read the magazine, or its TOC, if you want to know what's in the magazine. But we're doing something different with this issue, so I wanted to call it out a bit.
We're devoting nearly the entire magazine to covering what's new in Microsoft's latest release. Roger Jennings has authored a three-part overview that covers what's new in Visual Studio generally; what features were announced or discussed at one point, but didn't make the final release; and the road ahead. The language-based columns, C# Corner and On VB, cover the new features of the respective languages they cover. And Ask Kathleen tackles several questions about specific features of VS 2008.
Jennings' first piece, "VS 2008 Kicks Off," covers what's new with VS 2008. Most of the new features that you see in Visual Studio 2008 were created to make Language Integrated Query (LINQ), VS 2008's most significant new feature, possible. We've already discussed several aspects of the new features Roger covers in his article--LINQ, Lamdbas, expressions, and so on--but in this article Roger frames these features as part of the bigger picture of where VS 2008 is now and how it all fits together.
Nowadays, because of all the blogs, previews, and pre-releases, we learn about many new features planned for new releases well ahead of time, but not everything makes it into the final product. It wouldn't be surprising, in some cases, to wonder where a given feature you'd heard about is, only to learn, after looking for it, that it didn't make the final cut. The list of these MIA features for VS 2008 is long and varied. Jennings' next article, "VS 2008: The MIA Features," walks you through some of the most important changes that didn't make it into the final release, and provides you updates of their status, including when--or whether--Microsoft intends to implement a given feature. Note that this list is fluid, and subject to change; indeed, Microsoft made last-minute announcements about the status of a couple of these missing technologies after the article was laid out, prompting some last-minute scrambling by Roger and VSM to incorporate this new information. VSM will, of course, keep you apprised of future developments on these technologies.
As Jennings notes in the third part of his trilogy, "VS 2008: The Road Ahead," the release point of a given version of a tool is only a point in a continuum in the application's life. You have to tighten up and release the product at some point, but there are other, ongoing features that will be introduced later, whether in the next official version, in service packs, or in special downloads available for the product. It's important to understand where the tools stands at the point of release, not just in terms of what features the current version has, but where it's going. So, Jennings' article walks you through several of the features that you can expect to see down the road. Again, as with discussion of any future features, be aware that what's planned for today might not make it into production at a later point (WinFS ring a bell?).
I want to emphasize that, while Visual Studio 2008 will play a significant role in our 2008 editorial, it won't continue to be the sole focus of a given issue. Obviously, we're excited about the chance to explain some new (and, in most cases, improved) features, but we appreciate that you might not be adopting the tool immediately, and we will continue to run practical, hands-on articles that cover, not just what's new in VS, but also what you need to know to implement real-world technologies today.
Talk back: Are you excited by the release of Visual Studio 2008? Why, or why not? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Patrick Meader is editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.