Microsoft announced that it will deliver beta versions of Visual Studio 11 and the .NET Framework 4.5 on Feb. 29.
In a sneak peek with press and analysts on Feb. 23, Microsoft shared some information on what will be in the next major version of its flagship development tools suite, code-named Visual Studio 11.
S. Soma Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsofts Developer Division, said the new toolset focuses on three primary themes: modern consumer and business apps, simplified and productive development environment, and collaborative and agile software teams.
Moreover, Somasegar said, We will be in lock-step between the platform [Windows 8] and the tools. Microsoft released a preview of Visual Studio 11 in September 2011 along with a developer preview of Windows 8 at its BUILD conference. The company is expected to deliver a beta or Consumer Preview of Windows 8 around the same time as the beta of Visual Studio is delivered.
Yet, despite talking of being in lock-step with the Windows 8 team and the platforms development, Microsoft did not address key issues, such as using the toolset to build Metro application or developing with HTML5.
As the platform comes out, we will be prepared to talk a lot more about what we are doing hand-in-hand with the platform team, Somasegar said.
Somasegar also said Visual Studio 11 will enable developers to build apps that allow devices to stay connected to cloud back-ends and to be highly collaborative. And we will enable you as a developer to touch-enable your apps.
Microsoft had to take all these disparate things into account in building the product, Somasegar said. It had to not only take into account the 10 million or so professional developers and their interests in mobile development and app stores for easy distribution and reach for their apps, but also the new kinds of people building apps who are not pros, he said. Thus, there are hundreds and hundreds of new features coming in Visual Studio 11, he added.
Microsoft said Visual Studio 11 is an integrated solution that helps individuals and development teams of any size be productive and focused, collaborate seamlessly with colleagues, and turn their ideas into exceptional and compelling applications.
The .NET Framework 4.5 enables developers to productively build responsive, scalable and efficient client and server applications. Developers building services for Windows Server and Windows Azure will get the tools they need to effectively harness the power of the cloud, Somasegar said.
A Number of Improvements Were Made to Visual Studio 11
Visual Studio 11 also offers an improved developer experience that includes a simplified user interface designed to keep developers focused on their work, with fewer distractions and easier access to the tools they need.
We know that developers can lose a lot of their time just orienting themselves to a project and the tools they are working with, Jason Zander, corporate vice president of Visual Studio at Microsoft, said in a statement. By refreshing the user interface, weve made much of the core functionality easier for a developer to find and use quickly, helping maintain concentration.
A number of features were added and improvements made to Visual Studio 11, including the following:
¢ Reduced toolbar commands. To help free up precious workspace, Microsoft has reduced the number of default commands that show on toolbars in the user interface. These commands can still be accessed through the drop-down menus or added back onto the toolbar if the user wants them, but now the default work area is significantly larger. For example, the cut, copy and paste toolbar commands were removed because research has shown that most developers use the keyboard shortcuts instead.
¢ Simplified graphics. Visual Studio 11 eliminates the use of color within tools, except in cases where color is used for notification or status-change purposes. Now, the user interface competes far less with the developers content. Other user interface graphics, such as line work and iconography, also have been simplified to be less distracting.
¢ Comprehensive search. Visual Studio 11 features a comprehensive search capability, allowing developers to quickly find what they are looking for within commands and configuration options, tool windows and open files.
¢ Workflow hubs. New workflow hubs combine common tasks into one simplified window. Rather than force developers to interact with two or more tool windows to get tasks done, Visual Studio 11 streamlines common tasks so that many can be accomplished from within a single window.
¢ Preview Tabs. Developers can view the contents of documents using new Preview Tabs, which get reused as the developer works. As a result, developers no longer end up with large numbers of extraneous documents open as a byproduct of common tasks, such as debugging or browsing results.
Meanwhile, Visual Studio 11 also features new team development capabilities to support the entire application lifecyclefrom architecture and user interface design to code creation, insight and analysis, deployment, testing and validation. Visual Studio application lifecycle management (ALM) capabilities help project stakeholders work together at every step in the development cycle to deliver high-quality applications.
Visual Studio 11 Team Foundation Server (TFS) Beta provides the collaboration hub at the center of the Visual Studio ALM solution, Zander said. From start to finish, teams can track projects through each stage of software development, from keeping tabs on version control to continually deploying software updates. The new ALM capabilities help ensure diverse team members integrate as one in the development cycle.
Indeed, Zander said that up to 90 percent of the Visual Studio development team uses Agile development methods, in particular Scrum.
TFS automates the software delivery process and gives developers the tools they need to effectively manage software development projects throughout the IT lifecycle.
In addition to the Visual Studio 11 Beta, Microsoft also announced Team Foundation Server Express, which is an easy way for small teams to try out TFS. TFS Express includes core developer features, such as Source Code Control, Work Item Tracking, Build Automation and Agile Taskboard, and is available for free to individuals and teams of up to five members.
Moreover, the Beta release of Visual Studio 11 includes support for Windows 8 and Web development, which are supported by Visual Studio Express for Windows 8 and Visual Studio 11 Express for Web, respectively.
With.NET Framework 4.5, Microsoft has enhanced .NET to enable developers to be as productive as possible while building rich, reliable and high-performance software in managed code. Microsoft said these enhancements were made across the .NET Framework, including in the following:
¢ Languages: To help developers deliver responsive clients and scalable servers, the C# and Visual Basic languages now have built-in support for writing asynchronous code almost as easily as if it were synchronous. And to help developers tackle data-complex problems, F# integrates Type Providers to make data access trivial in F# programs and components.
¢ Performance: The Common Language Runtime has been overhauled to provide better performance, in particular for server applications and services. With additions such as background server garbage collection, multi-core background JIT compilation and profile-guided optimization, managed applications can now start faster and run with better throughput and lower latency.
¢ Networking: With the proliferation of devices and continuous services in the cloud, .NET Framework 4.5 builds upon the high-quality networking libraries already available in .NET to further enable the development of increasingly connected applications. New support spans from modern HTTP libraries to WebSockets to support for contract-first service development.
Overall, Microsoft has made a slew of enhancements to the .NET Framework, from regular expression processing to better support for compression standards, enhanced support for HTML5, developer productivity enhancements in Entity Framework, optimized mobile experiences through ASP.NET, and more, ensuring .NET Framework 4.5 has something new for developers building for the client and the cloud.
Interested developers can download Visual Studio 11 Beta and .NET Framework 4.5 Beta starting on Feb. 29 and learn more about the new features by visiting http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio.