After seven years in developer division marketing, I’m making a transition into the product team to work as a program manager to help define what a “Live” version of Visual Studio might look like. If you think about Office Live and Windows Live, you can see that “Live” is coming together to mean “software that is smarter when it’s online and back-ended by a set of services.” I think most developers get this concept intuitively — that software can (and should) be better when it’s online. Already in Visual Studio 2005 there are features where we’ve begun to look at this kind of linking. Some examples:
- CodeZone-integrated help. When you search help in VS now, you can search the locally-installed .hxs files, the documentation on MSDN, and a set of sites from our CodeZone community. The search is cleverly dispatched to these sites, and returned and aggregated in the IDE. I’ve heard several people tell me that this help works exceptionally well — better in many cases than the Microsoft help.
- The Community menu. Pull down the community menu to ask a question and it runs a search from within the IDE against the VS and .NET newsgroups.
- The Start Page. OK, I may be stretching here, but the Start page is dynamically refreshed based on online content.
So I’ve started imagining what the world could be like, and with very little effort I’ve come up with some ideas. But before I spill the beans on those I’m interested in what other folks would like to see in a “Live” version of Visual Studio.