VSLive! spotlights new tools and .NET partners

Microsoft's Visual Studio Developer conference, VSLive!, held in San Francisco last week, gave the company an opportunity to show off the latest enhancements to its one-year-old Visual Studio .NET development tools and to crow about its growing list of vendor partnerships.

Bill Gates, highly visible at last year's event, was nowhere in sight this year. Eric Rudder, Microsoft's senior VP of developer and platform evangelism, gave the conference keynote, during which he laid out the features planned for Visual Studio .NET 2003 and offered a preview of the next revision, code-named Whitney. The new version of the product, the beta of which is expected in March, will have improved security, connections to non-Microsoft data sources (such as Oracle's databases), and extensions that will allow developers to utilize the .NET Framework in phones and PDAs.

''You'll see Visual Studio .NET 2003 complement Windows Server 2003,'' Rudder promised attendees. ''You'll see the next version of Visual Studio complement the next version of SQL Server, which we code-named Yukon. We want to make sure you have the right tools available at the right time to really take advantage of the platform.''

Microsoft also released public betas of five ASP.NET Starter Kits. The five starter kits are sample applications designed to help developers use ASP.NET, Rudder said. They include e-commerce storefronts, data-reporting applications, time-tracking programs and community portals. All the APIs in the new kits are available as managed code through the .NET Framework or as native code COM objects, which allow developers to use C#, VB .NET, VB or C++ to develop applications, he said.

Even Rudder admitted that the upcoming version of the VS .NET dev tool would be little more than an incremental update, noting that it was ''in some senses designed to be a small update.'' The real focus of this year's conference was the growing swarm of vendors buzzing around .NET.

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About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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