With the Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006 launch, MSDN made a few changes too…
For starters, with a new product like Visual Studio 2005 we assume that most people are either going to want to download the shipping version or figure out just what is in the new version so the Visual Studio Developer Center has been revamped to be more focused on product information than technical articles. The language developer centers are still focused on technical content (although this week they have a lot of launch-focused headlines but those will be updated with a lot of articles and other technical content in the coming days).
Second, we wanted people to understand that we are in a whole new world starting today in regards to the development platform from Microsoft so we have changed the main Visual Studio-focused developer centers and the MSDN homepage to reflect this. First and foremost you will probably notice that we are using large “hero” graphics at the top of the pages. I’m pretty impressed with how they came out and I think they do a good job of opening your eyes to the fact that we aren’t in Kansas anymore. If you are overwhelmed with Launch-focused graphics everywhere, that was the intention. Launch. Launch. Launch. We don’t want anyone to have any doubt in their mind that there is a new version of our products now available. Also, we have changed our homepage layout so that the popular Developer Center listing that we had before has been moved to the left hand navigation — a more traditional place for a navigation element.
We have made an effort to make the developer centers and the homepage cleaner and with less clutter. So some information you were used to seeing on the homepage has been moved into sub-pages. Also, the left hand navigation on the revamped developer centers has been standardized so that you can find the same information in the same places no matter which developer center you are using. We rolled this out with the re-launched VStudio focused developer centers today, but will be sending this same infrastructure on to our other developer centers in the future.
This was a long-time in the making here at MSDN and I think it is safe to say that this was the biggest undertaking we have ever tackled, particularly if you wrap it with all the internal tools and infrastructure changes that we are also doing to integrate with Visual Studio 2005.