Microsoft is making several changes to its upcoming Visual Studio 2005 development tools platform based on early user feedback. Changes include improvements pertaining to Visual C#, Web Forms, and icons.
Improvements range from adding "Edit and Continue" support to Visual C# to refinements of the "Intellisense" function for word recognition while typing.
User-driven rankings influenced which improvements were made. "With tools such as blogging and the MSDN [Microsoft Developer Network] Product Feedback Center, that's really opened us up to having a dialogue with the customers that we haven't been able to have before," said Brian Keller, a Microsoft product manager on the Visual Studio team.
Visual Studio 2005, code-named "Whidbey," is due to ship in the second half of this year and will feature a range of products including the Team System variant of Visual Studio for ALM (Application Lifecycle Management).
The user-driven improvement list begins with the ability to deploy updated and new icon sets with Visual Studio, a request that received 813 votes from users. This feature enables access to new icon sets that can be distributed with applications. Using an updated icon set makes it easier for developers to focus on code, Keller said.
"It's a bit surprising how popular this one was," Keller said. The icons feature will be of particular benefit to ISVs.
Adding Edit and Continue support for Visual C#, meanwhile, means developers can make changes to code during debugging without having to run a full compile against code, Keller said.
"It's a debug-and-change-as-you-go approach," Keller said. Edit and Continue has been part of Visual Basic. Some 399 users voted for Edit and Continue support in Visual C#.
"We originally were planning to provide Edit and Continue for Visual Basic 2005, and the Visual C# community came out and gave some very specific scenarios on how this would help them in their scenarios as well," Keller said.
Edit and Continue support for Visual C# is "extremely useful," said analyst Mike Gilpin, vice president and research director at Forrester Research.
"It allows you to maintain your train of thought when you're finding errors and correcting them rather than interrupt your debugging session," Gilpin said.
The third improvement pertains to a Component Tray feature for working with nongraphical components such as performance counters. Although it is in Visual Studio 2003, the tray is not included in Visual Studio 2005. The company is working on a fix, Keller said. The lack of a Component Tray is being addressed by adding a new Component Designer tab to Visual Studio 2005. The Component Tray request received 178 votes.
The tab is different from the Component Tray at the bottom of the forms designer, but it achieves the same functionality, according to Microsoft.
The fourth improvement pertains to limited tray icon support, whereby the System.Windows.Forms.NotifyIcon function does not support Balloon Help without using the Platform Invoke command. Specifically, developers want a managed interface for adding balloon-type messages to icons in the system tray, Keller said. The Platform Invoke command involves addressing a native Win32 interface in Windows as opposed to leveraging a collection of libraries exposed by the .Net framework.
This feature request, which received 174 votes, is being implemented as an API.