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Developers Dig into Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4 Beta 2

Microsoft's flagship IDE is taking an incremental step forward with the second beta release of Visual Studio 2010 and the .NET Framework 4. Microsoft released the second beta of VS 2010 and .NET 4 on Oct. 19, giving developers a month to test the latest fix of the company's next-generation IDE a month before its Professional Developers Conference 2009 (PDC09), set to take place in Los Angeles this month. Testers have been working with the first beta since May. Microsoft is expected to talk up a bevy of new technologies at PDC09. Among them will be Microsoft Azure cloud services (see "Re-Architecting Azure"), which Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie will officially launch at the conference, one year after he outlined Redmond's cloud vision at PDC 2008.

Ozzie will be joined by Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft's Server and Tools business unit. Muglia is expected to reveal more about developer hooks for the recently launched Windows 7 operating system and to discuss planned upgrades to key platforms in the Microsoft stack, including Office, SharePoint, SQL Server, BizTalk and Application Server Extensions, which is code-named "Dublin."

The 411 on VS 2010
For developers attending PDC, VS 2010 and the .NET Framework 4 will take center stage. (For more on VS 2010, see "IDE Evolution," April 2009, and for more on the .NET Framework, see ".NET 4 Revealed," June 2009.) By all accounts, VS 2010 beta 2 is expected to show a healthy improvement over the first release.

"Performance of the WPF [Windows Presentation Foundation] code editor is supposed to be much better," says Bill Wagner, founder of SRT Solutions and a VSM contributor. Also welcome news, Wagner adds, is the second preview release of Microsoft's ASP.NET Model-View-Controller 2 (MVC 2), which will be featured in VS 2010 beta 2, rather than as a separate component.

"You won't need to go anywhere else, it'll just be there waiting for you," wrote Microsoft Senior Program Manager Phil Haack, in a blog posting last month announcing the ASP.NET MVC 2 preview. "Likewise, the RTM [release to manufacturing] of ASP.NET MVC 2 will be included with the RTM of Visual Studio 2010."

That decision may indicate that Microsoft believes ASP.NET MVC will have wider appeal than the company originally anticipated, Wagner says. "Microsoft has been saying [MVC] may or may not have a long future," he explains. "Since MVC is going to be a part of Visual Studio, that's a pretty clear statement it will be around for a while."

Improvements in VS 2010 beta 2 will go beyond MVC and the code editor, Microsoft officials suggest. "A lot of people are saying, 'I've seen beta one,' but they haven't seen everything. There are definitely new things coming that we'll be talking about in our track," said Visual Studio and .NET Technical Evangelist Drew Robbins in a Channel 9 video.

Michele Leroux Bustamante, chief architect at Los Gatos, Calif.-based iDesign Inc., says she's looking forward to the beta 2 of .NET 4. Bustamante, who will be giving an overview of Microsoft's technology roadmap at PDC09, wants to see what's new in the Entity Framework 4 (EF 4). EF 4 will include support for Plain Old CLR Objects (POCOs) and T4 templates, which Bustamante says will help more easily control how models are produced from the database schema. "I'm hoping for improved support for offline change tracking," she adds.

Also, she expects to see improved F# templates in the framework. "I've come to believe that F# is something developers should try with an open mind, to gain a new perspective on how to write C# code better, and possibly to leverage it in appropriate layers of the application," she notes.

Improvements to Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) Workflow Services in combination with Application Server Extensions should offer a viable way to build enterprise WCF services and enhance visibility into problems during development and while services run in production, Bustamante adds.

VS 2010 extensibility is another theme Microsoft is advancing. Gabriel Torok, CEO of Preemptive Solutions, will lead a session about the VS 2010 code editor extensions. Torok says he'll demonstrate a built-in editor that functions as an extension of VS 2010. The code editor provides in-line visualization of usage and stability data collected from applications in production via Preemptive's Runtime Intelligence Services. "The idea that you can take data from production code that's usage data, performance data, stability data, and surface it inside the code editor is revolutionary," Torok says. "No one has seen anything like that before."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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