Hawaii: A Visual Studio Paradise for Developers?

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2005-05-16

Hawaii: A Visual Studio Paradise for Developers?

After it ships the "Whidbey" and "Orcas" versions of its popular Visual Studio tool set, Microsoft Corp.s Visual Studio development team is headed for "Hawaii."

Hawaii is the code name for a version of Microsofts Visual Studio tool set two versions beyond Whidbey, also known as Visual Studio 2005, according to sources familiar with Microsofts plans. Hawaii will be a completely redesigned tool set, aimed at taking developers well beyond current capabilities, the sources said.

Although Microsoft had been using the names of Pacific Northwest islands, such as Whidbey and Orcas, to code-name new versions of Visual Studio, developers chose the code name Hawaii because it takes developers much further than the other two versions and also because the team plans to celebrate redesigning the IDE (integrated development environment) in Hawaii, sources close to the company said.

Moreover, Microsoft officials said that while Whidbey will help developers target the upcoming Longhorn operating system, Orcas will be the version of the tool set that will enable developers to ride what the company calls the Longhorn wave and tap the new features of the operating system. Hawaii will come shortly after Orcas to provide even more Longhorn-specific functionality and more.

For a peek inside the Whidbey ship room, click here.

Tony Goodhew, a product manager for the Microsoft development team, said in a recent interview, "We are laying the groundwork for the full rearchitecture of Visual Studio post-Orcas." However, Goodhew gave no time frame, saying there was no commitment on a ship date. Microsoft is looking to release two versions of Visual Studio between now and 2010—one around "Longhorn" and another some time after that, he said.

Microsoft officials have said Orcas will have pretty quick cycle as far as enterprise tool sets go.

"Planning for Orcas will sort of start full steam later this spring or summer," said S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate vice president of the developer division at Microsoft, in an interview earlier this year. "But we really want sort of a reasonably quick turnaround for Orcas and not have it be under a huge cycle."

"Historically at Visual Studio we have sort of multiple tiers of development going on at the same time," said Prashant Sridharan, senior product manager for Visual Studio. "There are the folks like Anders [Hejlsberg, a Microsoft Distinguished Engineer] who are always thinking, who are working on programming languages and compilers and sort of the platform. … I know, for example, Anders is already working on the Orcas compilers and features for the platform and so forth."

However, Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., is also looking at the initial "blueprints" for the Hawaii version of Visual Studio, sources said.

Microsoft sings the virtues of Virtual Studio. Click here to read more.

Yet, before the team can get to Hawaii, they must deliver Orcas. The release of Visual Studio 2005 and .Net Framework 2.0 represent a key milestone, delivering IDE productivity enhancements, Microsoft Office solution development, SQL Server 2005 integration, and team development and enterprise life-cycle improvements, Somasegar said.

Moreover, the Orcas tool set will deliver support for extensive managed interfaces in Longhorn, new user interface tools and designers, an improved security model, and support for a new data storage model, Microsoft officials said.

Next Page: Taking advantage of Longhorn features.

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Orcas will be designed to take advantage of Longhorn features, including Avalon, the new presentation subsystem; "Indigo," a programming model for building Web services; and the new declarative programming model known as XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language), which is the underlying technology for an upcoming tool code-named Sparkle that will automate Avalon development.

"The big challenge for Orcas is to expose the power of Avalon without burdening Microsoft customers with another massive learning curve," said Mike Sax, president of Sax Software Corp., of Eugene, Ore. "Microsoft is innovating faster than its installed base can keep up with, so its all about making things easy and familiar for developers."

An open-source project offers an alternative to the Visual Studio Team System. Click here to read more.

Scott Guthrie, product unit manager of the ASP.Net and Visual Studio Web Tool teams at Microsoft, said, "From a programming model perspective with Orcas, we are looking to take XHTML and CSS [Cascading Stylesheets] even further. We are looking at how designers work with developers."

Asked what Orcas is about, Goodhew said it will involve enabling the Longhorn wave, improving the Web developer experience, and extending tools for the software development lifecycle.

Darren Laybourn, general manager of the Microsoft Business Framework, said, "Well be part of Orcas."

"From a Visual Studio point of view were filling a hole that has existed in terms of if you look at many of the applications built by ISVs, they use the Microsoft technology but they also build a platform layer in addition to that," Laybourn said. "And MBF is trying to fill that need."

Additional reporting by Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft Watch.

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