Upgrading to Visual Studio 2010 SP1
Assuming you don't have any beta software installed, what will you get when you apply service pack 1 to your copy of Visual Studio 2010?
In a world where beta software is now considered merely the first step in a new product's rollout (and sometimes comes with a Go Live license), Visual Studio 2010 SP1 was a reminder that beta software isn't good for production systems. Many developers who had installed the Async community technology preview (CTP) or LightSwitch beta on their production machines found that applying the service pack made Visual Studio sad. However, if you haven't installed anything suspect on your computer, your Visual Studio 2010 SP1 release should be painless. If you're using SQL Server Management Studio R2, you'll lose IntelliSense support until you install SQL Server 2008 R2 Cumulative Update 7 (CU7), which was due in mid-April. But enough about what you lose. What will you get from Visual Studio 2010 SP1?
First, numerous bug fixes. Overall, Visual Studio should be more reliable and more stable. I've seen none of the "odd lockups" that I encountered during my original review of Visual Studio 2010 in the June 2010 issue of VSM ("Upgrading to Visual Studio 2010"). Overall, things will get better with the update.
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|Figure 1. Integrating IIS Express: Right-clicking on a Solution and selecting Use IIS Express reloads the solution with new properties that support IIS Express.|
This first service pack updates platform support, bundling the Silverlight 4 tooling that developers previously had to download separately. By default, Visual Studio supports Razor in any ASP.NET page. But will non-ASP.NET MVC developers want to incorporate server-side code into their .aspx files? Some initial support for HTML5 and CSS3 is included, but it's only laying the foundation for HTML5/CSS3 tools still in the pipeline.
There is some more useful functionality, however -- Help, for instance. Now that Visual Studio 2010 can launch Help within a developer's lifetime, Microsoft has started to make Help truly functional. There's a page-context menu, a toolbar and a Find function that works within a page. You may even start pressing the F1 button intentionally.
For Web developers, Visual Studio now supports multiple IIS configurations -- which really means that Visual Studio supports testing with IIS Express. There's nothing wrong with the Visual Studio Development Server, but it's only "almost" IIS. IIS Express is a much closer experience to your actual production environment.
With Visual Studio 2010 SP1, a DLL can run unchanged on the "real" Microsoft .NET Framework 4 CLR and the portable libraries: Xbox, Silverlight (4 and 5) and Windows Phone 7. Because IDC estimates that Windows Phone will have 21 percent of the smartphone market by 2015 (thanks to Microsoft's alliance with Nokia), developers will have an easier time moving into what could be a very big market. Visual Studio 2010 SP1 also makes it a lot easier to add or remove the compact frameworks (and ASP.NET MVC) from deployment packages.
There are a lot of little presents in this service pack. XAML developers will see some IntelliSense improvements. Silverlight developers get some enhancements for debugging, profiling, working with implicit styles, and out-of-browser windows. The new support for unit testing .NET Framework 3.5 projects is a big deal, as it enables test-driven development for the previous versions of the Framework.
There's nothing earth-shattering with this service pack update, but it's all good. And it all works better.
Visual Studio 2010 SP1
Quick Facts: The first Visual Studio 2010 service pack helps stabilize Visual Studio and throws in some nice features for practically every type of .NET developer
Cons: If you've installed any beta software or technology previews, you'll probably be sorry; SQL Server Management Studio users will also need to install Cumulative Update 7
Peter Vogel is a system architect and principal in PH&V Information Services. PH&V provides full-stack consulting from UX design through object modeling to database design. Peter tweets about his VSM columns with the hashtag #vogelarticles. His blog posts on user experience design can be found at http://blog.learningtree.com/tag/ui/.