Developers Herald VS 2008, .Net Framework SP1

As Microsoft announces service pack releases of its Visual Studio 2008 and .Net Framework 3.5 technology, developers say the enhancements make for faster, better development. Microsoft's new service packs feature the .Net Framework Client Profile, ADO.Net Data Services and ADO.Net Entity Framework.

Microsoft is releasing to manufacturing the .Net Framework 3.5 SP1 (Service Pack 1) and Visual Studio 2008 SP1 Aug. 11, and developers have weighed in saying the new offering enhances their capabilities for building and delivering applications.

Although Microsoft is delivering new functionality in these service pack releases, the offerings provide a host of advancements that might otherwise have been made into an entire new release, if not a "point" or "dot-one" release. Some early users of the technology have been able to build functional projects based on Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and .Net Framework 3.5 SP1, using the more model-driven aspects of the technology, among other things.

In an interview with eWeek, Shanku Niyogi, Microsoft product unit manager for the technology, said the releases come nine months after the release of the .Net Framework 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008 and include a substantial number of updates based directly on customer feedback.

"With these SP1 releases, we're doing something a little different," Niyogi said. "We're providing the typical guidance, but we're also looking at customer feedback and the way people are building applications, and we're putting in building blocks to help them do that better. We're giving them a more model-driven approach to development."

The service packs include new features such as the .Net Framework Client Profile for faster deployment of Windows-based applications, multiple enhancements to ASP.Net, and support for database application development through the ADO.Net Entity Framework, ADO.Net Data Services and integration with SQL Server 2008.

"Another big area of focus is we're making data driven applications better and easier to build and to be flexible and able to evolve over time," said Sam Gazitt, a product manager in the Microsoft Developer Division.

"We're enabling developers to be able to build application [user interface] and customize that in a model-driven way," Niyogi said.

Microsoft also is promoting more of a rapid application development scheme with the service pack releases, he said. "We're making the challenge of application development a much easier and quicker proposition."

The .Net Framework 3.5 SP1 includes several improvements to the Microsoft CLR (Common Language Runtime), such as the ability to generate managed code that improves application start-up time by 20 to 45 percent and end-to-end application execution time up to 10 percent, and the ability of managed code to take advantage of the ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) security feature in Windows Vista, Microsoft officials said. In addition, .Net Framework 3.5 SP1 has improvements for the creation of rich-client applications and line-of-business applications using WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation).

Moreover, the .Net Framework 3.5, released in November 2007, already contains features for developing Web 2.0 applications and dynamic Web sites, including new server controls and a client-script library for AJAX-style applications. Yet with .Net Framework 3.5 SP1, the .Net Framework now offers support for ASP.Net Dynamic Data, which provides a rich scaffolding framework that allows rapid data-driven development without writing code.