Today is a great day for Microsoft: Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005, and Biztalk were launched. I want to share with you the list of my favorite Visual Studio 2005 features and some pointers to articles, videos, code samples, and sites where you can find further information:
- Visual Studio Tools for Office: You can extend Office applications and create custom business solutions using Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO 2005). I have been playing with VSTO and I find fascinating how you can drag-and-drop Windows forms controls to Excel Worksheets and Word documents. You can later add some code-behind business logic and connectivity to data. I also find fascinating that you can create custom Outlook solutions thanks to the support provided by VSTO for building application-level add-ins using managed code with Outlook. I strongly recommend you to read a great article written by Janet Robinson: What’s new in Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Office. You should also see the redesigned Visual Studio Tools for Office Developer Portal at the Office Developer Center.
- ASP.NET 2.0: I am very excited about this technology. I have been working with ASP.NET 2.0 all this year and I find fascinating how you can create Web-based applications in such an easy way and in less time than you can imagine. There are lots of enhancements and features that I can talk about, but I recommend you to play around with MasterPages, Themes, and Skins to create the look-and-feel or your sites. Experiment with DataSource controls to see how easy it is to bind data to your server controls without writing code related with ADO.NET read about the Web part framework, you will be able to create custom Web parts and export them to SharePoint. Also, the next version of SharePoint uses a lot of ASP.NET 2.0 features, so if you are a SharePoint developer, start learning ASP.NET 2.0. Check out this Visual Web developer training videos series.
- Class Designer: I was really excited when I saw this. I used to generate UML Class diagrams using the Reverse Engineering feature that shipped with Everett. I was happy then, but you should see this new Class Diagrams, they are perfect. I like that you can create them really fast and with little customization, it’s a great way to work with your Object Models and you can save them as images and add them to your documentation.
- Intellisense: There are so many assemblies now that you can’t possibly remember all the interfaces, classes, and then properties, methods, events, and more. I love that code files, even Web forms have Intellisense now.
- Visual Data Designer: You can connect to your SQL Server database and create tables, relationships, views, and stored procedures in less time and using the same environment where you write your application code. I love that you can drag-and-drop a table from the Visual Data Designer to a form and then Visual Studio 2005 creates for you a GridView and a SQLDataSource connection that allow you to select, insert, delete, and update data to the table. You don’t even need to know ADO.NET to connect your managed applications to a data store. Try it!
- Code snippets: You might need to reuse code over and over, so now you can store it inside Visual Studio and forget about looking for old code in hard drives and CDs. I love this!
- Debugging: The debugging experience is way much better. When you are debugging you can mouse over an object and you will see a context window with all the information related to the object without typing commands in the Command Window. You can even see the details of exceptions.
Watch this video:
You can find more videos here: Absolute Beginner’s Video Series
I know that when someone from Microsoft states that a product is good, it sounds like marketing. But I have to tell you that I am being honest and talking only as a developer that is quite excited to experience and work with Visual Studio 2005. The best you can do is to give it a try.