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Visual Studio 2010 - reading the Redmond runes

Big release, big Windows tie in

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Parallel programming is a theme in Visual Studio 2010. C++ gets the Parallel Pattern Library, and .NET Framework 4.0 gets the Task Parallel Library and Parallel Language Integrated Query (LINQ). This is smart stuff, wrapping complexities such as ensuring that the number of threads used matches the number of available processors, and providing simple abstractions like parallel for loops.

Unfortunately all the pitfalls of concurrent programming still exist, so expect an increase in subtle and unpredictable bugs as this becomes popular. Visual Studio supports it with a new Tasks debugging window and easier thread debugging.

The Visual Studio 2010 web editor has full JavaScript support, including tools for code navigation, and jQuery IntelliSense. There are also new web deployment tools. Silverlight will get a true visual designer, as opposed to the visual preview in the 2008 version, though this is not part of the current preview. Also worth mentioning is that Windows Installer XML (WiX) is now a supported project type, offering Windows Installer setups configured by editing XML.

Merge visualize in Visual Studio 2010

Merge visualization tool shows branches in red where bugs remain

What about Team System? Guckenheimer outlined three major areas of change. The first is in application quality. Gated check-in means you cannot check-in code that does not build. An elaborate new debugging system lets you deploy an application in a test environment with tools that capture bugs as they happen.

"You can file a bug, and with the bug come the exact steps that the tester did, indexed into a video, with screenshots, and with traces of the actual code execution," Guckenheimer said. "The developer can open the bug, click into the trace and open a session that looks like a debugging session but without ever loading the code."

The next area of change is in what Guckenheimer called "business alignment" - new dashboards and deeper hooks with Excel, Project and Sharepoint, for requirements analysis and work breakdown. The third change comes in work on performance. "We think we scale up to pretty much any size team, any number of thousands," he said. There is also a new client, code-named Camano and written in WPF, aimed solely at testers.

A weakness is that Microsoft still largely leaves integration with other platforms to third parties. For example, Eclipse users need Teamprise. On the modeling front, there is a new Architecture Explorer which creates visualizations from existing code. There will also be support for UML diagrams including Class, Use Case, Sequence, Activity, and Component.

The current preview of Visual Studio 2010 is slow and not entirely stable, a fact not helped by running only in a virtual machine, though it does contain a useful set of walkthroughs for Team System.

There is more to come, but from what I've seen so far this is shaping up to be a major release for Windows developers. ®

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