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Visual Studio Turns 10

Being the father of a 10-year-old son, I know a thing or two about the frustrations, joys and pride that come from a decade of parental toil. So I think I might have some clue how Prashant Sridharan, senior product manager for Visual Studio at Microsoft, felt on Tuesday, when he gave a keynote speech about Visual Studio at the VSLive! conference in San Francisco. I spoke to him soon after that speech.

"I've been around all 10 years -- I started out as a peon," he recalled. "Ten years ago the idea was let's build one unified environment for all developers. Let's build one integrated environment that would enable you to share services across your projects and your language types, et cetera."

What started with Visual Studio 97 as a decidedly kludgy solution (he describes languages like J++ and Visual InterDev being "sort of glommed on") has grown remarkably in 10 years. Today, Visual Studio is a well-integrated and expansive tool that allows for powerful plug-ins, rich features and guidance, and increasingly comprehensive language support, as witnessed through the emergence of Visual Studio tools for Ruby, PHP and other dynamic languages.

Of course, a lot of effort lately has been expended in stretching Visual Studio both out and up. Various Team System flavors of Visual Studio have helped rope in critical project tracking and management activities. And recent extensions to the brand -- like Visual Studio Tools for Office and Visual Studio Tools for Applications -- are bringing the development interface to new classes of users.

What's next for Visual Studio? Obviously Orcas, which should finally pay off on the foundational promise of .NET Framework 3.0 when the new IDE emerges late this year or early next. Orcas remains months away, but like a parent who worries about his 10-year-old's college prospects, I couldn't resist asking Sridharan what's next.

"I don't even presume to know of programmer productivity level -- Anders Hejlsberg productivity level -- that is going to happen. But I can trace the meta trends of the industry," Sridharan said. "Larger and larger software teams, and larger and more complex products will come out. More geographically dispersed development teams. More complex projects. I look at the size and scope and complexity of teams, and it is going to create a lot of problems in the software development process."

Did you use Visual Studio during its early years? We'd love to hear how Microsoft's IDE has evolved in the past decade. E-mail me with your takes at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 03/28/2007

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