Microsoft Creates New Visual Studio SKU

IT enterprise architects are getting their own specialized version of Microsoft Corp.'s Visual Studio in the .NET generation.

Visual Studio.NET, the follow-on to Visual Studio 6, will come in two versions, Visual Studio.NET Enterprise Developer and Visual Studio.NET Enterprise Architect.

"If you think about large organizations and how they go about building applications, they typically have more senior people in an architect's role," says Dan Hay, lead product manager for Visual Studio.NET.

Microsoft claims about 750,000 users of Visual Studio. Hay estimates that about one out of every seven developers works in an architect role, so Microsoft expects to eventually have about 100,000 users of Visual Studio.NET Enterprise Architect.

Visual Studio.NET is slated to go into Beta 2 during or shortly after TechEd, which starts June 17. The beta version distributed to TechEd attendees and others will be the Enterprise Developer version.

The Enterprise Architect version won't undergo a widespread beta cycle, but it will ship "before the end of the calendar year" at the same time as the Professional Developer version, Hay says.

Hay says the Enterprise Architect version will include software modeling and database modeling components that enable architects and even business analysts to delineate business requirements.

Database modeling within the tool will allow logical and physical modeling, but also conceptual modeling. For example, a business analyst could define something as abstract as an employee with a telephone, Hay notes.

"[Business analysts] can take that conceptual model that they've created and pass it along to someone who is more technical," Hay says.

One of the design goals of the Enterprise Architect product is to help the architect pass along models and instructions to developers within the Visual Studio toolset, instead of through printouts or three-ring binders.

To that end, Enterprise Architect adds so-called frameworks, or libraries of re-usable components included with the software, and templates, which are guidelines and instructions for building certain types of applications.

Microsoft hasn't nailed down the number of templates it will deliver with Enterprise Architect, but Hay says it will probably be about four or five.

One example is a simple distributed application, which would consist of a user interface, business logic and data access with appropriate policies set for different application tiers (i.e. a policy would be set to prevent developers from inserting user interface components on the business logic tier).

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.