Visual Studio 2010 opens up to browser-like extensions

JQuery and Eclipse support now integrated

Visual Studio 2010 includes a new extension manager

Visual Studio 2010 includes a new extension manager

Microsoft’s next major release of Visual Studio, version 2010, will be the most radical overhaul of the product thus far, with support for Web browser-like extensions, source code collaboration, application lifecycle management and the open source JQuery JavaScript library, among others.

Microsoft Australia’s developer evangelist Andrew Coates said one of the most significant changes in Visual Studio 2010 is the integration of Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) across the product line allowing it to be extended using XAML.

“Say you are a big bank and you want to get messages to the developers, you can integrate this into the start page,” Coates said. “This is the first big product with WPF at its heart.”

Coates said all the design surface is WPF, which gives more flexibility, and the new “smart search” will help developers match code better.

For language support, F# comes into Visual Studio 2010, as well as the open source JQuery JavaScript library. Version control compatibility with Java and Eclipse will also make it into 2010.

Another significant feature enhancement is a Firefox-like extensions system which enables Visual Studio enhancements to be downloaded and installed from an extensions manager.

“Previously it was cumbersome to develop extensions for Visual Studio, so we've made it much easier,” Coates said.

At last count there are some 400 extensions available for Visual Studio, ranging from Outlook plug-ins to syntax support for other languages.

“With new Web deployment technology we have done a lot more work to make it more productive,” Coates said.

For rich Internet applications, Silverlight is also integrated. This was previously an extension for Visual Studio 2008.

Microsoft's .Net Framework 4.0 will be released at the same time as Visual Studio 2010, but support for building applications in previous versions of .Net remains.

Other technology improvements can be found in the areas of testing and application lifecycle management (ALM), which “we have lowered the barrier to entry in our professional tooling” Coates said.

By the company's own admission, the biggest challenge Microsoft wants to overcome with the Visual Studio 2010 release is to reduce an overly complex suite of products by consolidating the number of editions on offer.

Product manager for developer and design tools at Microsoft Australia, Joerg Lindner, said constant feedback from developers and partners was “why don't you simplify your developer tools line up?”

Visual Studio 2010 will have three major editions: Professional, Premium and Ultimate.

All editions come with IDE and Team Foundation Server (in-house with one client access licence) and can be combined with an MSDN subscription for additional services, including a subscription to the upcoming Azure cloud computing platform.

“Want MSDN to be more than a set of products but a service you develop with,” Lindner said, adding there are new training courses and technical support incident services with the 2010 MSDN subscriptions.

Microsoft’s key message about the upgrade is “The Ultimate Offer”, which aims to ensure existing Visual Studio customers are better off when they upgrade to 2010.

“This will ensure every customer will receive equal or greater product value. When Visual Studio 2010 launches most customers will receive an upgrade to the product above their current at no cost,” according to the company.

For example, on March 22 customers with Visual Studio Professional and Premium will get MSDN subscriptions thrown in.

“If customers are interested in upgrading they need to do that now to save money,” Lindner said. “Partners can buy Visual Studio at 20 per cent cheaper. The cheapest way would be to buy the development edition to get Ultimate in the March 22 upgrade.”

Visual Studio 2010 beta 2 is now available for download from Microsoft.

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