Whereas VS Team charts new territory for Microsoft, VS 2005 cultivates familiar ground. The languages and tools in VS 2005 balance productivity and code purity in a way that fits the rapid development of business applications. Not surprisingly, Visual C# and Visual J# pick up new features. But Visual Basic 2005 and Visual C++ 2005 are reborn. Microsoft also sneaked the functionality of Visual InterDev back into the toolset, with some Dreamweaver-like tweaks added. And the ClickOnce installer puts the complexities of preparation for distribution and deployment in the hands of the development environment, where it belongs.
Visual Basic 2005 abridges .Net’s pedantic grammar to accommodate inexperienced and impatient developers. VB coders won’t need to know much about the .Net framework to get their work done. VB 2005 is, once again, the beginner’s language whose capabilities rise to match your skills, recapturing several of the treasures jettisoned from VB .Net. Most notable is the “edit and continue” function, which will once again give developers the ability to modify running code in the debugger.
Just as significant, Microsoft is putting Visual C++ 2005 back at the top of the food chain. When Microsoft released VS .Net, it assumed that C++ developers would jump to C# en masse. Unmanaged — compiled to machine instructions — code was deemed primitive, dangerous, and exploitable. VS .Net derailed Visual C++ to encourage C++ developers to evolve into more civilized and enlightened C# beings.
New efforts on behalf of Visual C++ 2005 suggest that Microsoft has backed off the C# hard-sell. C++ libraries have been cleaned up, with potential security holes plugged and new features added. Optional language extensions, which Microsoft has submitted for standards consideration, wire .Net-essential capabilities such as garbage collection (automatic deallocation of memory) into Visual C++ 2005. An implementation of the C++ Standard Template Library will provide a portable and transparent wrapper layer around .Net.
But these changes go beyond giving back what Microsoft took away. The new C++ compiler back end generates highly optimized, native executables for Athlon FX, Athlon, Itanium, Opteron, Pentium, Pocket PC, and Xeon. The 64-bit code generators are essential to Windows’ enterprise growth, and Microsoft is wise to position Visual C++ as the flagship language for these performance architectures.
Getting the team together
InfoWorldreaders know how huge the universe outside the developer’s desktop is. Big, interconnected projects that involve engineers, designers, testers, managers, support personnel, and operations staff require some combination of life-cycle and project management tools. That’s where VS Team comes in. It will use design — class modeling, service-oriented application design, and logical infrastructure design — to project a cohesive, individually relevant view of the life cycle to each participant.