Will One Whidbey Be the Same as the Rest?
Like its predecessors, the next edition of Visual Studio, codenamed Whidbey, will not be a monolithic entity. Microsoft's overriding vision for Whidbey calls for many commonalities, including greater simplicity, increased communications among developers, support for an enhanced .NET Framework, and integration with the next edition of Microsoft SQL Server, codenamed Yukon, to cite a few examples.
However, feature sets could vary substantially among the Visual Basic (VB), C#, C++, and J# editions of Whidbey, officials said during the recent VSLive! developers' conference in New York City. Moreover, final decisions on some features may not come until much closer to Whidbey's slated release date of 2004.
Microsoft hopes to use Whidbey to help build .NET market share on both the SMB and enterprise sides of the fence. One goal is to provide "appropriate simplification," to give "small and medium businesses increased developer and IT satisfaction," maintained Eric Rudder, senior vice president of Microsoft's Developer Platform & Evangelism Division, in a keynote at the event.
Microsoft's enterprise pitch touches largely on .NET Framework improvements such as support for the latest Web services, smoother ASP.NET Web app development, and new functionality for device-based development.
"Web services is not a 'rip and replace' strategy. It complements what you already have," Rudder told developers during VSLive!.
According to Rudder, Microsoft has used feedback from its Customer Councils to try to build a Whidbey environment that meets the needs of many different breeds of .NET developers.
"VB developers tend to be very RAD (rapid application development)focused," elaborated Ari Bixhorn, Microsoft's product manager for VS.NET, during an interview at VSLive!. "C++ developers, on the other hand, are often building components that can be reused by other developers."
Microsoft has posted its full product roadmap for Whidbey on the Web. Here, though, is a snapshot of some of the most important new features in various versions of the new product, accompanied by some of Microsoft's commentary during the developers' show.
Microsoft is looking at a number of simplification tools for the VB edition. In demos at VSLive!, for example, Bixhorn showed "snap lines" for making sure controls are aligned, as well as point-and-click templates for automatically inserting code for common programming routines. Right now, Microsoft expects to include snap lines in both the VB and C# editions of Whidbey, Bixhorn said.
Another new tool for Basic is "a debugger that works like a spell checker," according to Bixhorn. Let's say you misspell Boolean, for example. You'll be prompted by a "smart tag" that there's an error in the code. If you click on the smart tag, you can find out how to fix the error.