ProjectsSoftwareWorkspace

Microsoft Visual Studio 11 and .NET 4.5 Betas Out Next Week

Darryl K. Taft covers IBM, big data and a number of other topics for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

Microsoft gave a sneak peek of the next version of its flagship toolset codenamed Visual Studio 11 and .NET Framework 4.5

Microsoft announced it will deliver beta versions of “Visual Studio 11” and the .NET Framework 4.5 on 29 February.

In a “sneak peek” for press and analysts, Microsoft shared some information on what will be in the next major version of its flagship development tools suite, codenamed Visual Studio 11.

Metro not mentioned

“Soma” Somasegar (pictured), corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Developer Division, said the new toolset focuses on three primary themes: modern consumer and business apps, simplified and productive development environment, and collaborative and agile software teams.

Moreover, Somasegar said, “We will be in lock-step between the platform [Windows 8] and the tools.” Microsoft released a preview of Visual Studio 11 in September 2011 along with a developer preview of Windows 8 at its Build conference. The company is expected to deliver a beta or Consumer Preview of Windows 8 around the same time as the beta of Visual Studio is delivered.

Despite talking of being in lock-step with the Windows 8 team and the platform’s development, Microsoft did not address key issues, such as using the toolset to build Metro application or developing with HTML5.

“As the platform comes out, we will be prepared to talk a lot more about what we are doing hand-in-hand with the platform team,” Somasegar said.

Somasegar also said Visual Studio 11 will enable developers to build apps that allow devices to stay connected to cloud back-ends and to be highly collaborative. “And we will enable you as a developer to touch-enable your apps.”

Microsoft had to take all these disparate things into account in building the product, Somasegar said. It had to not only take into account the 10 million or so professional developers and their interests in mobile development and app stores for easy distribution and reach for their apps, but also the “new kinds of people building apps” who are not pros, he said. Thus, there are “hundreds and hundreds of new features coming in Visual Studio 11”, he added.

Microsoft said Visual Studio 11 is an integrated package that helps individuals and development teams of any size be productive and focused, collaborate seamlessly with colleagues, and turn their ideas into exceptional and compelling applications.

“We undertook building Visual Studio 11 with a focus on offering today’s software developer the very best environment for efficiently building applications – for both businesses and consumers,” Somasegar said in a statement. “In addition, our work has been highly influenced by the proliferation of devices and a passion for enabling developers to focus on building high-quality, modern applications with data that seamlessly flows from one device to another, easily incorporating intuitive interfaces such as touch and voice. We want developers to be productive in building such applications, whether they’re using C++, JavaScript, Visual Basic or C#.”

The .NET Framework 4.5 enables developers to productively build responsive, scalable and efficient client and server applications. “Developers building services for Windows Server and Windows Azure will get the tools they need to effectively harness the power of the cloud,” Somasegar said.

Interface improved

Visual Studio 11 also offers an improved developer experience that includes a simplified user interface designed to keep developers focused on their work, with fewer distractions and easier access to the tools they need.

“We know that developers can lose a lot of their time just orienting themselves to a project and the tools they are working with,” Jason Zander, corporate vice president of Visual Studio at Microsoft, said in a statement. “By refreshing the user interface, we’ve made much of the core functionality easier for a developer to find and use quickly, helping maintain concentration.”

A number of features were added and improvements made to Visual Studio 11, including the following:

• Reduced toolbar commands. To help free up precious workspace, Microsoft has reduced the number of default commands that show on toolbars in the user interface. These commands can still be accessed through the drop-down menus or added back onto the toolbar if the user wants them, but now the default work area is significantly larger. For example, the cut, copy and paste toolbar commands were removed because research has shown that most developers use the keyboard shortcuts instead.

• Simplified graphics. Visual Studio 11 eliminates the use of colour within tools, except in cases where colour is used for notification or status-change purposes. Now, the user interface competes far less with the developer’s content. Other user interface graphics, such as line work and iconography, also have been simplified to be less distracting.

• Comprehensive search. Visual Studio 11 features a comprehensive search capability, allowing developers to quickly find what they are looking for within commands and configuration options, tool windows and open files.

• Workflow hubs. New workflow hubs combine common tasks into one simplified window. Rather than force developers to interact with two or more tool windows to get tasks done, Visual Studio 11 streamlines common tasks so that many can be accomplished from within a single window.

• Preview Tabs. Developers can view the contents of documents using new Preview Tabs, which get reused as the developer works. As a result, developers no longer end up with large numbers of extraneous documents open as a by-product of common tasks, such as debugging or browsing results.