First look: Visual Studio 11 beta leaner, meaner for Metro
Metro-style development support and monochrome obsession are featured in Microsoft's all-encompassing Windows development tool
Small details can make a big difference to developers, and Visual Studio 11 has many little changes designed to improve productivity. Quick Launch is a search field that helps you find features. Type "package," for example, and all the menus and options for package management appear.
Another strong feature is called the preview tab. This addresses a common issue for developers, where the IDE opens window after window as you perform actions such as stepping through code or checking variable and function definitions. The result is that the IDE becomes cluttered. The preview tab opens code windows temporarily, avoiding clutter.
When Visual Studio 2010 was released, developers complained about its unsatisfactory online help. Visual Studio 11 has the best online help Microsoft has delivered in years. It's easy to switch between online and local help, the index works, and performance is good.
This is a huge product and impossible to cover fully in a short review. For example, there are also many changes in the languages and frameworks targeted by Visual Studio 11. What is impressive is that despite the huge scope of the IDE, this new version feels tidier, faster, and less bloated than its predecessor. These positive impressions are somewhat spoiled by Microsoft's monochrome obsession in the new UI. But even if the gray face-lift tends to make everything look the same, the work done to streamline the tools has been worthwhile.
Expression Blend is a companion tool aimed at designers that includes a visual layout tool for HTML-based Metro apps.
This story, "First look: Visual Studio 11 beta leaner, meaner for Metro," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in Windows and programming at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, followInfoWorld.com on Twitter.