If it's trendy, Visual Studio 11 will do it

Microsoft's forthcoming app dev environment hits all the (expected) popular notes: agile, HTML5, touch, and devops

Microsoft's upcoming Visual Studio 11 IDE, which moves into beta release on Feb. 29, pushes all the right buttons: honing in on touch-based applications, agile processes, and accommodations for casual developers and cloud computing. But there was very little, if anything, surprising revealed about Visual Studio 11's formal marketing debut yesterday. The IDE merely features a long laundry list of improvements in multiple, expected areas.

The release, which is paired with .Net Framework 4.5, will also accommodate HTML5 and JavaScript development, as well as support devops. All told, the release features hundreds of improvements, Microsoft claims.

Company officials noted the emphasis on new device types and touch-based development. "Touch, particularly, has seen a tremendous amount of pickup in the last few years," said S. Somasegar, corporate vice president in the Microsoft Developer Division. Touch capabilities are said to improve on what was offered in the predecessor Visual Studio 2010 release.

Of course, touch applications are a major focus of the company's upcoming Windows 8 OS, via the platform's Metro interface. It's no surprise touch is being pushed heavily in the upcoming IDE, especially since Microsoft has been caught napping in the tablet space, which Apple and Google have dominated. Microsoft has much catching up to do if it wants Windows tablets to vie with the current leaders.

For devops -- another emerging trend -- Visual Studio 11 links developers with operations staff via integration with Microsoft's System Center IT management tool. HTML5 capabilities, meanwhile, include drag-and-drop functionality for building HTML5 and JavaScript applications and a page inspector capability, to check layouts. The ability to edit cascading style sheets (CSSs) is featured as well. Plus, developers can build cloud and back-end server applications via the IDE.

.Net 4.5 offers Common Language Runtime performance improvements and capabilities for server-side model-view-controller and parallel programming. Support for agile programming is enhanced via features such as a task board for scrum programming and test-driven development.

Microsoft did not have much to say about Windows Phone during its presentation, and it had nothing at all to say about Silverlight, the company's rich Internet application platform that has been left in limbo thanks to the emergence of HTML5 as a potential replacement. Somasegar, did note later that developers can build Silverlight applications in Visual Studio 11. As for Windows Phone, he noted that Microsoft's smartphone app development tools weren't tied to the release of Visual Studio 11.

All in all, Visual Studio 11 takes an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach, with Microsoft making sure it touches the bases of all the contemporary trends in software development. There's enough in there so that just about every developer on the Windows platform would want to take a look.

This story, "If it's trendy, Visual Studio 11 will do it," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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