Visual Studio 2008 – Are 3 Pillars Enough?

As some of you will be aware, Dave and myself have embarked on writing the sequel to [VS2005], aptly name Professional Visual Studio 2008, which should be completed early next year.  For the last month or so, while we were waiting for the contracts to be finalised, I have been going through a reviewing process of the chapters from the first edition.  With this now mostly complete it is time to turn our attention to actually writing.  Over the coming months you will see a number of posts relating to Visual Studio across on the Professional Visual Studio website.  This will include things like the table of contents, discussion points that we think the community might be interested in and even some code samples/snippets for you to download.

We have also established a Facebook group through which we are encouraging as much community feedback as possible.  As chapters are completed there will be an opportunity for anyone in this group to access the draft and submit comments/feedback.  There is also rumored to be a prize for most active reviewer! The group is currently hidden so if you want to be involved you will have to “be-friend” me and let me know you are interested in providing feedback.

The rest of this post will appear in due course across at

In preparation for the release of Visual Studio 2008 Microsoft have been doing a considerable amount of work to make sure their documentation stays in sync with the product.  From past experience the feedback has been that documentation, particularly around new features is essential if Microsoft wants to get good user adoption both prior to and following product release.  To this end there will be updated language specifications for C# and VB.NET, MSDN will be updated to include the new features and there are some additional whitepapers floating around that further discuss some of the features we can expect in Visual Studio 2008.

One such whitepaper is the “An Overview of Microsoft Visual Studio 2008” put together by Tony Goodhew.  In this document it is stated that VS2008 delivers across three primary pillars:

  • Developer Productivity
  • Application Life Cycle
  • Latest Technologies

Reading this I have to pose the question – is this enough to give Microsoft the leading edge when it comes to developer technologies and/or IDEs?  The latter part of this question is easier to answer if you contain yourself to the .NET/Microsoft world.  In this space there is almost no question that Visual Studio is definitely the best option as it closely aligned with where Microsoft sees the future developer trends going. 

Interestingly enough this seems to occasionally backfire, leaving Microsoft on the back foot playing catch up.  For example if you expand the field of vision to the web in general and look at Visual Studio in contrast to other web developer tools there are some significantly limitations.  In VS2005 there was little support for Javascript development, debugging was still a painful process and when compared to Firebug there was clearly no way Visual Studio was playing in the same space.  Back when VS2005 was released this wasn’t a significant issue but with the ever growing and dynamic nature of the web, VS2005 is an overweight dinky toy playing in the world’s largest super-pit.

When it comes to Application Life Cycle I can see that Microsoft has done considerable work to fix a major shortcoming of Visual Studio.  Now with Visual Studio Team System the ability to collaborate as a team and build a product from design through to deployment is a significant step forward.  Personally I think that the marketing department Microsoft has frustrated companies by breaking VSTS into numerous skus trying to “accommodate” to different types of developers (although the names end up being different, when it comes down to it all the skus are used by developer focused users). imho they should do away with the different role based skus and have standard, professional and universal editions. 

One of the biggest areas that I think isn’t highlighted enough is that Visual Studio is more than just a developer IDE.  It is actually a reusable shell that has been refined and is not available to VSIP companies.  Such companies have the option to either integrate their product as an addin or actually reuse the entire shell depending on their requirements.  Of course it’s a pity that Microsoft didn’t think to reuse this shell for the Expression suite!

Open question: If you were defining the Primary Pillars for Visual Studio 2008, what would they be?

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