By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2005-12-05 Print this article Print

A platform proposition

Most of the IDEs (integrated development environments) that have been favored by eWEEK Labs have focused on C++ or Java, reflecting the personality of one language throughout their designs. Microsofts own Visual C++, for example, when it came forth as a breakthrough tool for that hybrid language, was all about taming the complexity of its mix of machine-level directness and object-oriented superstructure. Top-flight Java environments such as Borland Software Corp.s JBuilder have instead built on that languages consistent and deep-dyed object orientation to give multiple, synchronized views of work in progress.

Visual Studio 2005 reflects a different approach, one thats driven by a platform rather than a language. It delivers access to Microsofts evolving .Net framework in a way that presents different faces to different developer communities; it reflects the connection of programming language choices to developer skill sets and development tasks.

Spanning those differences is a charter that makes Visual Studio 2005 as much about inducing developers to build the next generation of applications—as Microsoft defines that vision—as it is about preserving developers past investments in skills and code.

Microsoft does pay homage to the investment that developers make in not merely mastering but also fine-tuning a tool. From the moment a developer first fires up the Visual Studio 2005 environment, it invites customization and maintains an accumulating record of a developers preferences and modifications (such as redefining shortcut keys). Rearrangement of tool panes has become a good deal more intuitive, with new visual indicators of docking options that make it much easier to figure out where things can go .

None of this is especially novel, but it becomes more so when combined with export and import commands that make it easy to transfer customizations from one workstation to another. Whatever you might not like about Visual Studio 2005, Microsoft would like to make it easy for you to change it.

Next Page: Core capabilities.

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developersÔÇÖ technical requirements on the companyÔÇÖs evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter companyÔÇÖs first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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