Microsoft is officially launching three major products on February 27th, 2008, namely Visual Studio 2008 (formerly codenamed "Orcas"), Windows Server 2008 (formerly codenamed "Longhorn") and SQL Server 2008 (formerly codenamed "Katmai").
This is likely going to be the largest launch event in Microsoft history and I can tell you that our extended team is very excited about this (check out the other team blog posts about it here and here).
While this news may not necessarily seem important to most people who read this blog and those who are focused on designing great user experiences for software in general, I think there is a lot about this announcement (Visual Studio 2008 in particular) that will impact how you create these great user experiences in a positive manner.
Off the top of my head, here are some of the things supported in Visual Studio 2008 that will be important to readers of this blog:
- Visual Studio 2008 has a number of enhancements that allow developers to code the functionality behind Silverlight applications much more easily. This is important to Design professionals because Microsoft has taken great effort to improve Designer / Developer workflow in creating Rich Interactive Applications and Silverlight is an important platform for creating compelling RIAs.
- Integration with Expression Studio
- You've probably seen/read/heard/used Expression Studio by now. Visual Studio 2008 really adds to the experience and process of handing off design assets to developers for coding (and vice versa) by providing built-in integration of Expression Blend into Visual Studio 2008. Whether you're building Silverlight RIAs for the web or WPF-based RIAs for desktop applications, Visual Studio and Expression Blend will allow you to do asset hand-offs between designers and developers seamlessly.
- Expression Web allows you to create compelling, visually attractive websites using technologies such as ASP.NET. Because the project structure in Expression Web is compatible with Visual Studio, you can hand off web design work easily to developers who can then code the functional components of the web application in Visual Studio 2008.
- One of the main components of Expression Studio that makes Designer/Developer workflow much more seamless is XAML (eXtensible Application Markup Language). The assets you create in Expression Blend and Expression Design can be exported to XAML. Visual Studio 2008 fully supports XAML for WPF applications as well as Silverlight applications. This is key to enabling the effective workflow between Designers and Developers
You may never touch code as part of your job as a designer or User Experience specialist but if your job involves handing off design assets to developers to implement the functional component of your software solution, the introduction of Visual Studio 2008 can greatly increase the productivity of your team and overall make your lives a lot easier.