We’ve heard a lot of great feedback from VB developers about the Whidbey product this year, in many different ways. We visited a bunch of cities on our world wide user group tour (http://msdn.microsoft.com/vbasic/worldtour); we’ve read blogs and newsgroups; held chats; and gone to conferences, among other things. And of course there’s the product feedback center on MSDN (http://msdn.microsoft.com/feedback). Recently we made some changes to a few features that we hear a lot about from developers: refactoring, code snippets, and ClickOnce deployment. I’ll describe those changes here, and as always, we’d like to hear what you think.
One thing you should know—the changes that I’m describing here were made after beta 1, so the first “big” release that you’ll see them in is the Visual Studio beta 2 release, some time early next year. They’ll also show up in a Community Tech Preview release sometime later this year.
The ClickOnce change is that ClickOnce deployment will now be available in Visual Basic Express. VB Express is all about building smart client applications, and ClickOnce is the best way to deploy a client application with Whidbey, so we’re very happy to be able to put the two together.
We removed one code snippet feature, and added another one. In beta 2 you’ll be able to assign a shortcut to a snippet and then invoke it from the keyboard. In the Visual Basic code editor you can type “?” (question mark) and then Tab to bring up the list of all code snippets. If you know the shortcut for a specific snippet you can type that and press Tab to immediately insert the snippet. As in beta 1, you can still right-click in the editor and choose “Insert Snippet…” to get the full menu. The feature that we had to remove was the integrated snippet editor, because we didn’t have enough time to ensure that it would be at ship quality in time for beta 2. Instead, we’re working on an external snippet editor that will be available around the time that VS ships, so that we’ll still be delivering a good snippet editing experience.
Refactoring is another feature that we’ve heard a lot about from VB developers. Beta 1 already supports the “rename symbol” refactoring, which allows you to change the definition and uses of a variable (or class, or function, etc) either by right-clicking or with a smart tag. We’ll change all occurences of the symbol in your project (or in your solution if you have a multi-project solution). For beta 2, we have made a number of improvements to rename symbol. For instance, when you rename any part of a designable partial class (like a Windows Form or User Control), we’ll rename all of the other parts, even if they are hidden from view. We had hoped to include additional refactoring support for Whidbey, but weren’t able to in the limited time that we had. This is definitely an area that we’ll be working on for future versions. We also expect to see companies providing VS addins that support refactoring in Visual Basic. (There are already at least a couple that work with VB 2003.)
Visual Basic Program Manager