Visual Studio 2010's New Look Unveiled at VSLive!

Microsoft kicked off VSLive! San Francisco 2009 this week with more news about what's planned for Visual Studio 2010.

In the keynote on Tuesday, Microsoft General Manager for Visual Studio Jason Zander showcased advances in the new VS 2010 user interface (UI) for the first time to VSLive! attendees.

"We've announced so far that we are using WPF for the new editor that we've put in place and made a lot of progress on that," he said in a pre-show interview. "With this release of the product, we will be showing our overall new UI for the product."

According to Zander, Microsoft has "modernized the look and feel for VS 2010" with a new UI built on WPF that rearranges file menus and commands at the top of the IDE. "We are making extensive use of the .NET Framework well as the WPF technology within the framework," he said. "We've improved the way you can examine your source code, your project system, the hierarchies that you have and all the data stored in TFS, as well." Screenshots of the new UI can be viewed at Zander's blog.
"We're trying to give you much more access to your data within the context of how you're using it," he explained. "So making actionable data where you're at. What we don't want to do is completely disrupt the way that you work. So you will still have solution files, project files, source code that you can work against, designers that work well on doing visual design and things like that -- so things that feel familiar to you though we will have refreshed the look and feel and make it easier for you to find things."

A developer, for example, could map profiling data from Team Foundation Server back to lines of code to trace performance issues on-screen, and then hover over problematic code and have background information pop up.

VS 2010 will also incorporate an Extension Manager, similar to the Visual Studio Gallery that developers can use today to download extensions. The new Extension Manager will enable developers to access and download extensions from within the IDE.

VSLive! Co-Chair Rockford Lhotka, who attended the keynote, said in an e-mail, "I am excited about the ability to pull code and designer windows onto other monitors. I use dual monitors all the time, and this capability will get me moving to VS 2010 as fast as I can!"

Lhotka, the principal technology evangelist at Magenic, applauded the use of WPF, but did not see a huge difference in the UI's layout. "I'm not sure the 'less clutter' argument holds true," he said. "While it is nice that VS is now WPF, it didn't seem to me that the layout and dialogs were all that different from today."
Zander also announced that Microsoft is partnering with Quest Software Inc. to develop an Oracle Database Schema Provider for Visual Studio Team System (VSTS) 2010, which was also previewed at VSLive! "When you use those two things together, I will be able to write my code and explore my schemas and do all of that advanced functionality with Oracle," he said. "That gives Team System support for the three most popular databases in use by database programmers."

VSLive! Co-Chair Andrew Brust, who is author of a book on SQL Server and the chief of new technology at twentysix New York, said the Oracle announcement is a big deal. "Having Visual Studio be able to have version control, unit tests and refactoring support for Oracle will really make Team System an attractive option for companies combining .NET and Oracle -- and there are more than you might think," he said in an e-mail.

"I also think the new testing capabilities in Team System 2010 look fantastic," Brust said. "My read is it will enable teams on tight deadlines and budgets to put out much higher-quality code, because the effort required to find and fix the bugs will now be greatly reduced. Automation and all the recording features will really help here.

"These are measures that will really deliver substantive value, and they're both very sensitive to current economic realities," he added. 

Zander said VSTS 2008 has 14,000 customers deploying roughly 500,000 clients.

VSTS 2008, which greatly enhanced the Database Edition for developers with improved SQL Schema and source code controls, already supports DB2 and SQL Server.

"One of the other benefits that customers will get as soon as the Microsoft beta is out is that soon afterwards, the Oracle DSP that we are producing will also be out in beta so customers at that point will be able to do all the work that they're doing on their SQL Server or DB2 databases but now on Oracle," said Dan Norwood, product manager at Quest Software. "So we will be able to support all of the Visual Studio Team System workflow methodologies in Oracle, in pretty short order." 

In October, Microsoft announced that VSTS 2008 Developer Edition and VSTS 2008 Database Edition would be combined in Visual Studio 2010. Since that announcement, users of either edition can download the other for free. 

The first VS 2010 CTP appeared on Oct. 28 as part of "the goods" given to attendees during Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles. At the PDC conference, Microsoft highlighted its support of emerging technologies such as parallelism, the new Windows Azure services platform and Windows 7. Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the Developer Division, revealed the new editor built on WPF and the Managed Extensibility Framework during his PDC keynote.

Microsoft announced additional functionality at its Tech-Ed EMEA 2008 developers conference in Barcelona the following month. Zander, who gave the keynote in Barcelona, said the upcoming IDE will support Microsoft's next-generation platforms including SharePoint. VS 2010 will also integrate several existing out-of-band technologies such as the ASP.NET Model View Controller framework, improved JavaScript IntelliSense, JQuery support, one-click deployment of ASP.NET apps and Silverlight 2 tooling.

On Oct. 1, the company slashed pricing on Visual Studio 2008 by as much as 30 percent for developers using competitive products or existing users who wanted to upgrade.
Zander would not comment on the timeframe for the VS 2010 beta, but he did say that he expects the new UI and related bits to become available in the next public preview. The VS 2010 Virtual PC CTP expired on Jan. 9, but a workaround can be found here.
VSLive! San Francisco 2009, hosted by 1105 Media Inc., the parent company of this Web site, is taking place this week. It is co-located with the MSDN Developer Conference, which was held on Monday.

About the Author

Kathleen Richards ([email protected]) is the editor of and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.