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VS 2010: Modern or More of the Same?

At VSLive! today in San Francisco, Microsoft's general manager of the Visual Studio Team, Jason Zander, talked about helping developers do more with less.

He opened the conference with a keynote entitled "Visual Studio -- Your Development Happy Place." Zander discussed useful functionality in VS 2008 and pointed to code navigation, testing and debugging improvements in VS 2010 all aimed at making developers' lives a lot easier.

The big news today is the reveal of the revamped user interface, which -- like the new VS 2010 editor -- is built on Windows Presentation Foundation. The improvements are designed to give developers actionable data that's related to on-screen code and to streamline the UI.

"It is good to see Microsoft using WPF in one of their core products, as it will surely drive the maturity of WPF and related tools," said Rockford Lhotka, VSLive! co-chair. "Every time Microsoft buys into their own technologies like this, we all benefit."

However, Lhotka indicated that from his perspective, the UI didn't look that much different than it does today.

"The fact that the Visual Studio IDE is now being built on WPF is a good step at moving the developer shell into a modern UI," said Sondre Bjellås, Microsoft solution architect at Oslo, Norway-based Capgemini, in an e-mail. "It will be interesting to see third-party extensions and how they can extend and improve the out-of-box experience. I'm confident we will see innovation in the extension space which has been hard or ultimately impossible to do in today's shell.

"Take, for instance, the new Home Screen. This view is built on WPF and is extensible through configuration and XAML files. I could see extensions to this screen which can display things like quick-facts: How much code have you checked in lately, how much time do you spend testing, how much time do you spend documenting your methods, and so forth. It could aggregate data from the Team System warehouse and display it personalized for the individual developer," Bjellås said.

"The WPF redesign of the IDE is actually the part that impresses me the least," said Andrew Brust, the VSLive! co-chair who introduced the keynote and Zander. "What I saw looks more like a WPF port of the 2008 IDE than a true redesign. I hope that Microsoft will consider making more fundamental UI design changes to VS 2010 before release."
The other big announcement was the support for Oracle in Visual Studio Team System 2010. Quest Software is developing the Oracle Database Schema Provider. Team System 2008 already supports DB2 and, of course, SQL Server.

Brust described today's announcements as "not super-sexy, but very important." He explained: "Support of Oracle in Visual Studio Team Development (and Team Suite) is a big deal. By working with Quest Software on providing this support for Visual Studio, Microsoft makes .NET an even better fit in shops that have standardized on Oracle as their database platform." 

Check out the new UI design on Zander's blog here.

Express your thoughts on the new UI and what improvements will help you the most in VS 2010. We're also looking for CTP testers who can comment for an upcoming Visual Studio Magazine story. Contact me at [email protected].

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 02/24/2009

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