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Get stuck in to Visual Studio 2008

LINQ big, better teamwork needed

High performance access to file storage

Team System

Team System for Visual Studio 2005 was a revolution for those developer teams that prefer to stick closely to Microsoft’s own development tools. They got grown-up source control, a unit testing framework, load testing, code analysis, bug tracking and team management through work items, build management, documented process methodologies, and a project portal based on SharePoint.

Team system portal

Team System portal in action

The 2008 version has matured a little, but the changes are relatively small. Installation of Team Foundation Server remains arduous, thanks to its many dependencies. Microsoft has not addressed weaknesses such as the difficulty developers have in tracking work items spread across several projects.

Earlier this year Microsoft acquired DevBiz, makers of TeamPlain, which is a web-based alternative to Team Explorer. This is not yet integrated into Team System 2008, so I guess it may be an add-on for later.

Still, there are numerous small enhancements here, like improved performance, new code analysis rules, new features in the profiling tools, and the ability to get the latest version of a file automatically on check out. The Database Edition is now integrated into the main release. Microsoft is known to be working on significant new modeling tools, but there is no sign of them in this release.

Conclusion

The quality of Visual Studio 2008 reflects its strategic importance. It is a fine piece of work, and essential for developers interested in keeping up-to-date with Microsoft’s platform. This edition is the first to be able to target multiple versions of the .NET Framework, so it should be the only one you need.

There are annoyances, like the seemingly perpetual cycle whereby what you really want is not quite done yet and only available in preview. Silverlight 2.0 falls into that category, as is Project Astoria, the forthcoming REST API for ASP.NET.

Visual Studio is also suffering from feature-bloat, and the full versions may be overwhelming to newcomers, though the free Express editions do offer an easy entry point. And, good though it is, Team System is only slightly improved in this version, which is disappointing. Team System also suffers from a bewildering range of editions. I feel that a single Team Suite would do nicely.

The biggest take away from Visual Studio 2008, though, is LINQ. This is Visual Studio 2008’s most significant effort, and while these are early days, it looks promising.

For more on Visual Studio 2008, check out MSDN here

Visual Studio 2008, in a nutshell-shaped object:

Huzzah!

  • LINQ transforms the way SQL applications are written
  • Full developer support for Windows Vista's premier features
  • Proper XAML designer
  • General refinements, such as IntelliSense, extension methods and type inference
  • Tools that improve performance and appearance of AJAX applications

WTF

  • Confusion over WPF suitability for line-of-business applications
  • IDE feature bloat
  • Disappointing lack of improvement to Team System
  • Bewildering range of Team System editions
  • Still waiting for new technologies and tools - Silverlight 2.0, Astoria and TeamPlain

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