A Big Piece of the Puzzle
Visual Studio 2005 is tightly integrated with SQL Server 2005, and provides a range of tools for building everything from simple Web apps to Office-based apps.
- By John K. Waters
- January 01, 2006
Microsoft is embracing the notion that no single tool can fit every
developer. At the launch of Visual Studio 2005 on Nov. 7 last year,
the company unveiled a family of development tools under the banner
of the Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE). Visual
Studio 2005 Standard Edition is the entry-level tool. This also
serves as a bridge for Visual Basic (VB) 6.0 and VB.Net developers.
Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition is aimed at professional
developers. The Visual Studio family also includes new tools for
Microsoft Office and new Team System lifecycle tools, as well as
a lightweight, easy-to-use Express Edition. This could be a good
choice to recommend to your customers for their own internal projectsÑespecially
because it's available for free for at least the first year.
Deep integration with SQL Server 2005 is the most significant aspect
of the new Visual Studio 2005. It will also be a major productivity
boost for partners whose primary focus is developing customized
applications using Visual Studio 2005, .NET and SQL Server 2005
as a foundation.
Corp. Visual Studio 2005
Base Price: Standard Edition: $299 Professional
Edition: $799 Tools for the Microsoft Office System:
$799 Visual Studio 2005 Team Suite: $10,939 Express
Editions: Free (After a year, the price will be
$49, and Microsoft Developer Network subscribers
are eligible for discounts.)
Most of the new features are focused on developer productivity
and making it easier to build .NET-connected applications. This
is particularly good news for custom application development and
delivery. The cornerstone of the new Visual Studio is actually the
forthcoming .NET Framework version 2.0. The framework includes the
common language runtime (CLR), class libraries and ASP.NET controls
that help .NET developers focus more on business logic and less
on software plumbing. Microsoft bills the combined development tools
and framework as a "unified development environment and programming
Because many developers have already had access to beta code for
some time, there's already a lot of buzz in the developer community
over the Visual Studio 2005 IDE. Among the most talked about new
- Line Revision Marks: The text editor
tracks changes during an editing session and even distinguishes
between changes already saved and changes that have not yet been
- Edit-and-Continue: The new VB editor
brings back a feature that helped VB 6 developers fix runtime
errors on the fly.
- Code Snippets: This library contains
more than 400 chunks of reusable code for common programming tasks.
- Refactoring: The C# and J# IDEs come
with a suite of tools for automating many common code refactoring
tasks, such as renaming classes, fields, properties and methods.
- ClickOnce: This new installation technology
is designed to simplify deploying and updating Windows forms-based
- MS.Net Build Engine: Better known as
"MSBuild," this new XML-based transparent build system
for managed client apps lets developers specify what to build
and how to build it under different platforms and configurations
in the XML file associated with the build engine.
- "My" Namespace Object: The
"My" object gives developers a series of coded shortcuts
to make it easier to find system and application resources.
- ADO.NET 2.0: The latest version of Microsoft's
database APIs for the .NET Framework is designed to help developers
build better applications, regardless of the back-end database.
- New XML Editor: ADO.NET's new XML editor
features color-coding, IntelliSense support, support for syntax
checking and validation using Document Type Definition (DTD) and
XML Schema Definition (XSD).
Beyond the Traditional
Microsoft is reaching well beyond its traditional developer constituency
in several areas with this integrated development approach. This
will be a benefit not only for developers and development teams
in midsize to large organizations, but also for partners developing
Visual Studio Team System (VSTS), the most ballyhooed new member
of the Visual Studio family, represents Microsoft's first serious
move beyond the confines of the traditional IDE into the broader
landscape of application lifecycle management (ALM). Targeted at
midsize and large project teams, VSTS includes features designed
for project managers, software testers, infrastructure and software
architects, IT business decision-makers and partners with a development
Developers using Word, Excel or Outlook as a front end get a big
boost from the mother ship with the Visual Studio Tools for the
Microsoft Office System (VSTO). VSTO is designed for developers
looking to use Visual Basic and Visual C# to extend Word 2003 and
Excel 2003. Microsoft is serious about positioning Office as a strategic
platform for .NET development, and wants its developers and partners
to have the tools they need to make that happen.
In practical terms, the IDE race really comes down to two development
platforms: .NET and Java. Eclipse owns the lion's share of the Java
IDE space, but it's also facilitating development of open source
alternatives that will compete directly with the VSTS.
In the end, the biggest competitor to Visual Studio 2005 may well
be Microsoft itself, considering the substantial inertia in convincing
developers to migrate to the newer platform. The company is calling
Visual Studio 2005 a "milestone" release and it is clearly
tied to the release of SQL Server 2005. Future updates are likely
to be similarly coordinated.
Microsoft is already well into work on another version, code-named
"Orcas." Visual Studio 2005 and the .NET Framework 2.0
-- and the applications built with them -- will naturally run on
the forthcoming Windows Vista operating system.
Right behind Orcas is "Hawaii," which promises to be
a completely redesigned tool set aimed at taking developers well
beyond the tool's current capabilities. With Hawaii, Redmond seems
to be laying the groundwork for a full rearchitecting of Visual
Studio, which will follow the evolution of SQL Server and the evolution
of Windows into Vista.
- Tight integration with SQL Server 2005
- Integrates latest enhancements of the .NET
- New tools for Microsoft Office developers
- New Team Studio Application Lifecycle Toolset
- New Visual Web Developer for ASP.NET projects
- Latest ADO.NET 2.0 database APIs
- Consolidates Windows mobile development platforms
- Eclipse open source tooling framework
- Earlier versions of the IDE
- Established application lifecycle management
vendors such as IBM, Borland and Mercury Interactive
- NTeam open source application lifecycle management
- Relative ease of custom application development
- Targets new types of developers, including
- Renewed focus on development lifecycle and
need for supporting products
Marketing and Sales
Microsoft launched Visual Studio 2005 at a splashy media
event in San Francisco on Nov. 7. It was actually a joint product
launch of Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and BizTalk Server
2006. Following that kickoff event, Microsoft is hosting a series
of smaller, free launch events in about 50 countries. The folks
in Redmond also rely heavily on the Microsoft Developers Network
(MSDN) as the primary means of distributing the Visual Studio tools.
Microsoft has long maintained partnership programs to encourage
third-party developers to cuddle up to the Visual Studio product
line and build complementary products. This is another area of potential
opportunity for development-oriented partners.
The company's revamped Visual Studio Industry Partner (VSIP) program
is now providing independent vendors and enterprise customers with
free access to the APIs necessary to build life cycle tools that
are tightly coupled with Visual Studio 2005. The VSIP program offers
a range of memberships for institutions, researchers, ISVs, system
integrators, shareware developers and corporations. Microsoft has
also been offering E-Learning courses and clinics (initially for
free) to get developers ramped up on Visual Studio 2005.
The Final Word
Visual Studio 2005 is notable for the depth of integration
with other key Microsoft technologies, and the scope of the product's
reach into tangential realms. The fact that it's the first of three
IDE updates planned over the next five years doesn't diminish its
Nor will the fact that Microsoft will be using Visual Studio --
along with SQL Server and BizTalk -- to promote the forthcoming
Vista operating system. That connection is likely to be a positive
development for partners. Microsoft has a lot of eggs in its Vista
basket, and for now, Visual Studio 2005 and the .NET Framework are
the software development tools for that platform.