What do you do with a community/Beta release of Whidbey?

I have a confession to make. I have a pre-conception that is probably false. I believe that customers who receive the community/Beta release of Whidbey install it, play with it for a day or two building simple apps, maybe go to a newsgroup and give feedback and then dont look at it again. This is largely a pre-conceived notion based on the amount of feedback we get and my own experiences - I still have Alpha versions of other MS software lying unopened in my office, when I signed up thinking I was going to try out something new and cool...and then life got in the way.

So I'd like to test my hypothesis with the community at large - what do you do with a community drop/Beta release of VS? Do you port your big honkin' app to it and give it a run? Do you search for all the cool new features in your area and try them out? Do you look at the readme, hoping to find a gem or two there about what feature is broken? Do you know where the tips are (if not where do you look), do you know where to provide feedback?

Please let me know your experience. Feel free to post anonymously in my feedback area and post “me too” comments.

Comments (30)

  1. Dave Vespa says:

    I would do exactly as you say. Play with it for a day and then forget about it.


  2. I will play arund with it, usually I create a fork in the source of a current project to test it out. In the case of the PDC whidbey bits I played with them for a few days until I ran into real usability problems. Most of these problems were related to webservices dialogs being absent.

    I remember running beta 2 of the original VS.NET exclusivly and the same with everett. Once VS is late in Beta I usually use it exclusivly. Its kinda hard to expect that from an alpha release though.


  3. Two Words:

    EntityBroker 2005.

    Next week I will branch our O/R mapper and see that when the beta comes out i have something on the table that kicks ObectSpace’ ass.

  4. I’ve used both the PDC and the first CTP, and had to remove them. I ported over a medium sized app I use to play around, and it worked pretty well, but there were too many problems with the environment themselves. However, I have pretty high hopes going forward, and once SxS works, I’ll have no problem running VS.NET 2003, and at least one app in Whidbey.

    I used VS.NET from beta 1 on, to develop a product to be released on .NET as soon as was possible, I hope to have the same experience with the community drops, because I’m excited about Whidbey.

  5. Kevin Dente says:

    I generally do three things. One, I play around with the new features of both the IDE and the framework. Two, I see if any of the limitations, bugs, or annoyances of VS 2002/2003 (and their corresponding frameworks) have been addressed. Three, (sometimes) when I’m implementing something new in .NET 1.1, I’ll look to the Whidbey releases to see if there’s any model or structure that I should be keeping in mind for the future (for example, the provider architecture)

    I generally do this over an extended period, not just over the first couple of days, because learning about the new features (and remembering the old bugs) generally happens over a period of time, not all in one weekend. For example, I’ll generally spin up the March release once or twice a week and poke at it as I stumble across interesting new featuers (usually stuff I’ve read in blogs).

    Readme? Bah! πŸ™‚

  6. Dave says:

    It’s largely a function of quality, for me. If my initial toying around gives me the impression that the build is refined enough to actually work in, I’ll build some little things with it off and on for a while. If my initial toying around gives me the impression taht Microsoft shouldn’t have let it out of Redmond, then I’m not going to touch it again.

  7. I put it up on my production server for in a production app to test it out. (Then I removed it after I remembered I’m not allowed to do that). I still use it for my personal site.

    I code in VS2005 every chance I get (i.e., not production apps). I had to write a program the other day to extract some data from mscorlib. I enjoyed doing in VS2005. In fact, I *miss* VS2005 when I’m working on my "real" projects.

    After we hit beta, then I can really start using it for production.

  8. Aaron A. Anderson says:

    I’m actually developing a product to be released at the end of next year. Why use VS2003 when I have 2005 at my disposal? Sure, there’s some things I can’t do with it right this moment, but there are so many other pieces of the project that it doesn’t concern me.

  9. Hold on, isn’t that what we do: i.e. port our big honkin’ Visual Studio to our ‘last known good’ C++ complier, FX, C#, whatever. πŸ™‚ That’s what is called dogfooding :-). Whidbey is made using Whidbey.

  10. anon says:

    After reading the warning in the March 2004 release, I was too afraid to install it on any of my main developement machines. That left a P3 600MHz machine. I installed in on there and it was too slow to be usable. So, in effect, I’ve done nothing. πŸ™‚

  11. Keith Hill says:

    Busted! πŸ™‚ Yeah, you’ve nailed the "beta testing" scenario for early alpha software like the PDC build of VS.NET. As someone else has mentioned, when it gets to a beta then I’ll get more serious about it. Heck, we started and got half way through development of a product using Beta 2 of VS.NET 2002 before switching over to the released version. I have played around a *lot* more with the PDC Longhorn build trying to familiarize myself with Avalon.

  12. Todd Spatafore says:

    Like many have stated, I’d fork my current source, create a new VirtualPC install the new bits and attack my product with everything I can think of just to see how much better it is than VS.NET2003.

    Depending on the stability I’d keep hold of it till the next beta comes out. I’m usually not one to install, run once or twice, and then get rid of it unless it’s a worthless product or it makes me feel like my work is being hampered by it.

  13. DotWind Blog says:

    I get it spend few weeks thinking that i should free some space to make a new partition and install a new system to run the betas, then when i get to it something else comes up and i need to put it away for a bit, I have had vs2005 preview sitting on my hard drive for a while along with longhorm preview probably will play with them this weekend YAY!

  14. boyd says:

    I download it from the msdn subscriber section;

    Then every day i see the disk image sitting on my desktop and I think :

    "I need to try it today, if i have enough time."

    Of course i don’t have the time.

    And I keep thinking I would hate to have for only a day the thing I miss so much from the java world (eclipse, intellij Idea) that is refactoring and a really smart code completion.

    So I really fear giving the new vs a try will makes me hate my actual life πŸ˜‰

  15. We installed the CTP on an unused machine here at work, so people who have a couple of spare minutes could sit and play around with it a bit. Mostly to familiarize ourselves with the IDE and try out features we read about.

    Crashes like hell, though. Waiting for the beta…

  16. Martin says:

    First thing is reading the readme. Yes, really. I play with it on a separate test machine when there’s some spare time and maybe try if some of our existing projects can be build. Besides this it’s playing with the new features.

  17. Jay Kimble says:

    Admittedly I’m like the anonymous person. But I actually have done something different. I first of all spent months complaining that my MSDN Universal ran out and that I can’t get the bits… found that I could get a copy of the PDC build at DevDays. Went to DevDays, got the PDC Build, and then complained about DevDays.

    I then got paranoid about putting it on my main machine, so I decided to research using VirtualPC with it (you can do some kind of differences image, so you run your normal build but changes ot the disc go into a file).

    Then the new Community Preview came out, I’m complaining that my MSDN Universal ran out, etc.

    So I’ve given up on planning to install it; now I’m all about complaining that others are installing it and talking about it <grin>.

  18. Clay A. says:

    If it’s early in the development cycle I build some small projects just to understand what’s coming. Once it’s to the beta stage a may start test porting some of my apps looking for breaking changes or new capabilities that can improve the experience. In addition I try out new feature to see how they apply to what I’m doing. If I think the release is within the scope of my project schedule I may even start using the beta for my main development as long as I have a backup plan and the new capabilities are compelling enough.

  19. Well, for the most part, I use it as a coaster for my beer. After all, I have four copies of the disk now.

    However, with the copy that is installed on my machine, I actually open up copies of projects that I have done, and I also do a number of test projects. For some reason, I haven’t been able to find the temp project feature (if it is there at all).

    To give you an example, the directory where I create my applications (the projects have their own directory under this one), I am up to "ConsoleApplication26" and "WindowsApplication151".

    Just to give you an idea.

  20. David says:

    I installed Whidbey, cursed when it changed all my file associations, cursed again when it replaced the source control provider used by VS 2003, cursed loudly when the new source safe merge corrupted my file, tried it again, got another corrupted file, uninstalled Whidbey, cursed when all my file associations were gone, restored my file associations manually, cursed when VS 2003’s debugger could no longer run, and reinstalled VS 2003.

    Not a pleasant experience.

  21. David says:

    Though it is a preview, and comes with a warning. Next time I’ll listen and install on a test machine.

  22. Joku says:

    For my own projects (small) I backed up the VS2003 versions and started doing them completely in the CTP. I’ve managed to avoid crashes pretty well after the initial "playdays" where I tried to see what of the more common stuff I do crashes it. Now I plan to do some additional playing by installing the WinHEC LH and then the CTP on it with on vmware. (Using Miguel’s CTP on LH "hack")

  23. Jason Nadal says:

    With whidbey, I’ve done many sample apps, mostly with the Longhorn and speech api’s, and like to force myself to use the betas as my primary home environment. I have no qualms with wiping my machine down between builds, or at least wiping certain drives involved in the triple-boot (currently longhorn pdc & whidbey pdc, xpsp2 w/ march 2004 whidbey ctp, and longhorn winhec w/o whidbey).

    I just wish that the install and removal process were more stable. My only luck so far with the March preview is that of a buggy half-install on xp pro. But I do usually try not to give myself the option of using the released product on my home production pc. (that’s what my laptop is for, as a fallback, or for doing things that I need to actually release). As soon as I get a go-live nod with whidbey, I’ll only use that.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Do as much development as possible for as long as possible.

  25. I’m the Member Services Coordinator at the .NET Developer’s Association (the local user’s group in Redmond). Go get a hold of Robert Green or Carl Prothman.


    Robert Green (a PM for the VB.NET team) let our user’s group get a hold of a ton of Visual Studio 2005 community tech preview copies. If a particular month has a 5th Monday, we schedule a Bring Your Own Laptop session.


    Check <a href="http://www.netda.net/Event/EventNewsletter.asp?EventDate=3/29/2004">this</a&gt; out.


    We set up tables and walked everybody through the install. Robert Green highlighted a ton of the new Visual Studio and VB.NET features. There was a massive Q&A session. We all had a blast!


    We would love to do it again.

  26. Unfortunatly, I did as you explained with both Longhorn (I was playing with XAML) and Whidbey. I installed them and played for a few days but then my motherboard fried. I have yet to get a MoBoard and play on.

  27. Brian says:

    I do pretty much the same as you describe.

    Then wait/beg for my client to allow me to code in the new version before it gets released gold.

  28. Mark Blomsma says:

    I’ve started a new project to learn as much as possible. I’ve been spending a fair amount of time on it, discovering how to use the cool new features in this app. I intend to keep this project alive long enough to (a) complete it, (b) learn enough of Whidbey so I can inform my usergroup and (c) learn enough to advise my customers.

    I expect to start work on serious production code with beta 1, then migrate to beta 2, and then, depending on experiences at that point go live or wait for the last bits in release version. After all, VS2002 beta 2 was good enough to go live, so VS2005 should be too πŸ™‚

  29. Rick Byers says:

    For direct business purposes, I have (unfortunately) never been able to justify using pre-release software. However, for experimenting, learning, and personal use, I try to use the latest versions of the tools possible. Occasionally I do check pre-release versions (eg. Whidbey BCL) to see if a bug I’ve discovered has been fixed there so I know whether I should make the effort to report it.

  30. Anand says:

    I do exactly what you say for the first few days. But then whenever I read about a new feature (from an article or blog) I go an try it out. But I do not do any real app development on it till it gets to atleast RC.

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