InfoWorld review: Visual Studio 2010 delivers

A no-brainer upgrade for Microsoft-oriented developers, Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 marks a major advance in functionality and ease

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A third obvious large step is targeting and supporting multiple versions of the .Net Framework (2.0 through 4.0) in an intelligent way. A fourth is the enhanced debugging capabilities, both in debugging threaded applications and in historical debugging for managed assemblies. There are greatly enhanced sets of tools for architects and testers, such as Sequence Diagrams, Dependency Graphs (for managed assemblies), better bug reporting, and reproducibility. Then there is the new, non-brain-damaged help engine; support for Azure and Silverlight; support for Windows 7, SharePoint 2010, and Office 2010; functional programming with F#; and so on. Silverlight is targeted by its associated .Net version, but Visual Studio 2010 actually supports Silverlight versions 1 through 4.

I mentioned some of the improvements to Team Foundation Server (TFS) when I discussed Beta 2. One thing I didn't mention that deserves some attention is the new ability to gate check-ins for selected developers. Gated check-ins were one of the key features Linus Torvalds wanted for Git that he didn't have in Subversion. If you think about an open source project like the Linux kernel, you really don't want inexperienced developers checking changes into the trunk unless all the unit tests have passed and a senior developer has reviewed the code. TFS can do that now (not that Linus would ever consider using it).

Since Beta 2, .Net Framework 4.0 has picked up touch support in WPF. Visual Studio 2010 proper sports a cleaner start page, adds SQL Azure support, and behaves better when running in virtualized environments. The Visual Studio 2010 installer has been improved to the point where my install of the released bits didn't require any reboots at all. The bugs and performance issues that I and others reported in the release candidate have all been fixed.

Visual Studio 2010 vs. Visual Studio 2008
If you look at all the enhancements to Visual Studio 2010 compared to Visual Studio 2008 SP1, it's clear that the product has grown quite a bit in terms of capabilities, with lesser gains in performance and ease of development. And yet if you compare today's scores with the ones I gave to Visual Studio 2008 SP1 in August 2008, you'll find they're identical.

Times have changed, as have the scales we use for scores. I gave Visual Studio 2008 SP1 a 10 for capability; in its time, compared to its competition, it deserved it. Visual Studio 2010 gets the same 10 rating for capability now, but if I had to rerate Visual Studio 2008, it would now get about an 8.5.

Top 10 new and improved in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010

  • Cleaner and more capable code editing and design views
  • Improved performance
  • Smart targeting of multiple .Net Framework versions
  • Improved code navigation (without needing compilation)
  • Better support for test-driven development
  • Enhanced debugging for threads and historical debugging for managed code
  • Support for Azure cloud, SharePoint 2010 sites, Silverlight RIAs, and Office 2010
  • Improved capabilities for architects and testers
  • Includes F# (functional programming) and supports dynamic languages
  • Improved team management and code check-in controls
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