VSX Community Letter for May 2008

This month's letter includes a summary of what newly released VS SDK beta for the VS 2008 SP1 beta (formally referred to as VS 2008 SDK 1.1 Beta. Also included is information about what the VSX team has been working on in the past month, event news on VSX, more VSX content online, and a preview of what's coming next month.

What's new with the VSX team

Our team released a beta of our next version of the VS SDK this week, more details the VS SDK section below. We will release the final version of VS SDK 2008 SDK 1.1 when the final release of SP1 for VS 2008 is released later this year. As mentioned last month, the VSX team is working on a parallel project developing a new major version of the VS SDK that is targeted for CTP beta sometime next year. This new future new version of the VS SDK will include additional features and design tools for extending VS to make VSX easier as well as more powerful.

Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 Beta available

Microsoft recently released beta downloads of the Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1. Below are various downloads related to the SP1 betas online for VS and the VS Shell:

Additional details about the VS Shell SP1 beta runtime updates can be found in Quan To's blog post these downloads:

The integrated shell is a subset of the main Visual Studio patch and only targets the Integrated Shell.  If you have any edition of Visual Studio Standard and above, and also have the Integrated Shell installed, you should only install the main Visual Studio patch.  If you don't have any Visual Studio 2008 editions installed and just have the integrated shell, install the integrated shell patch and save yourself about 60 extra megabytes.

The Isolated Shell release is a major upgrade.  It will uninstall the previous RTM version and install the latest Isolated Shell Beta on your machine.  That means it's not a patch but a full version of the Isolated Shell.

For those who worked with the Integrated and Isolated shells back in November, you'll notice a significant size reduction in the redists.  The main size reduction knocking out about 150 megabytes is the .NET Framework redist.  Instead of carrying the entire payload, we're carrying a small bootstrapper that will go and download the Framework if you don't have it on your machine.  If you do, it just by passes that part of the install and moves onto installing the other pieces.

All these installs will not affect previous version of Visual Studio so if you have Visual Studio 2002, 2003, or 2005, it is safe to apply these patches to your Visual Studio 2008 install.

Visual Studio 2008 SDK 1.1 Beta available

Yesterday we released the latest version of the VS 2008 SDK which targets the new VS 2008 SP1 Beta:

Note: Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 Beta is required to be installed to use the Visual Studio 2008 SDK 1.1 Beta.

Here are the highlights of what is new and updated since the VS 2008 SDK 1.0 since our RTM release include:

  • The VS Shell Isolated and Visual Studio Shell Integrated runtime files are now approximately 150MB smaller, nearly half the size as before. The runtime files no longer include the full .NET Framework 3.5 payload embedded. Instead, they now contain a bootstrapper that automatically downloads the .NET Framework 3.5 runtime from a separate download online if it is not installed on the target computer.

  • Added support for progress feedback in a chained installation. The VS Shell Isolated and VS Shell Integrated runtime files can now pass installation progress back to the chaining process. This allows developers to display accurate progress in their setup programs.

  • VS Shell development now supports normal user. Developing and deploying a VS Shell application no longer requires the developer to be an administrator on a Windows XP computer or to have elevated privileges on a Windows Vista computer.

  • The SQL Server team has provided a new XML Tree Editor sample.

  • Addition documentation about the VS Shell has been added.

The Readme for Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 SDK 1.1 Beta can be found online posted on Quan To's blog, the same readme document included in the SDK beta download.

Test engineer jobs available on the VSX team

The VSX team is hiring! We have several positions open, one for a test lead as well as several individual testers for our QA (Quality Assurance) team.

VSX at events

Some of our team members including
Quan To, Mariano Blanco, and Gearard Boland will be at TechEd in June, so if you are at that event he first week of June, be sure to stop by the VSX station in the Microsoft learning center to talk to them.

VSX Tour - Spring 2008 in Europe

Our team members
James Lau and Jean-Marc Prieur are on a community event tour in Europe over the next 3 weeks. Stay tuned to James' blog for event news and summaries during and after the tour.

  • May 20: Brussels, Belgium - VISUG

  • May 22: Amsterdam, Netherlands - DevDays 2008 

  • May 26:  Munich, Germany - Special invitation Microsoft event

  • May 29: Zurich, Switzerland - MSUGS

  • June 2: Prague, Czech Republic - Altairis

  • June 5: Budapest, Hungary - VSX Day at Microsoft

VS extension tip of the month
This month, the extension tip is about the XML tools included in Visual Studio 2008, as well as the brand new XML Schema Explorer added to SP1 of Visual Studio 2008. For more details, check out the XML Team's blog post with details and a screenshots:
New XSD Functionality in Visual Studio 2008 SP1 Beta 1

This new utility, created by the Data Programmability team within Microsoft using the VS SDK, was discussed in the article in our VSX CoDe Focus magazine issue written by Chris Lovett: How XML Tools Use the Visual Studio SDK

For more on XML tools in VS 2008, Stan Kitsis, program manager on the Data Programmability at Microsoft, has an article for CoDe magazine that is now online: XML Tools in Visual Studio 2008:

  • Editing XML files

  • Schema cache and catalogs

  • Performance and working with large files

  • XSLT debugging

  • Extending XML Tools

New deep dives for PowerCommands on LearnVSXNow!
István Novák continues his series of VSX related educational content he calls LearnVSXNow! with new deep dives for the free PowerCommands extension for VS.

  • Part 21: PowerCommands Deep Dive — Analyzing Commands
    I go deep into the code of the following commands: Clear All Panes, Clear Recent Project and File List, Close All, Undo Close.

  • Part 20: PowerCommands Deep Dive — Commands and UI
    In this part I dive into details about PowerCommands UI. We look how option pages are created, integrated into the Options dialog and how related settings are persisted. We also examine the Model-View-Presenter pattern used to implement a few UI with WPF.

  • Part 19: PowerCommands Deep Dive — Command Architecture
    In this post we take a look at the architecture of the free PowerCommands tool package and go into details on how commands are defined and executed.

VSX topic now on Wikipedia

The VSX community has created a new VSX topic page at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VSX. We look forward to seeing how the community evolves this wiki page.

VSX book now available at Microsoft Company Store
The Microsoft company store now stocks the
Professional Visual Studio Extensibility, which is significant since only select technical books are stocked in the Microsoft Company Store in Redmond for Microsoft employees. We find that there is a growing number of VSX developers within Microsoft outside the VSX team, with various product teams extending VS for either internal use or for parts of various products based on the VS platform.

Next month

In next month's letter, we will have more news from the team, additional VSX content online, some significant news about a special VSX event later this year, and new phase 2 features for the Visual Studio Gallery website including RSS support, tagging, comments, and more.

Please send your feedback to us via the Contact link on any of our team member blogs, or post a technical question in the
MSDN Forum for VSX. You can also email me directly at klevy@microsoft.com or using the Email link on my blog.

VSX Survey (Spring 2008) invitation

Please take a few minutes and complete the VSX Survey (Spring 2008) to let us know your interests, activities, and feedback on the topic of extending Visual Studio.

There are 6 web pages with 23 multiple choice and fill-in-the blank questions in this survey. This is our second VSX survey, as we plan to offer a similar survey every 6 months and track the trends from the results. So if you took our VSX survey last fall, it's important to us that you take this survey with similar or updated answers and feedback.

Visual Studio is a rich extensible platform. As more and more developers continue to build extensions, the VSX team wants to ensure we are focusing on the right priorities for VSX developers. Your response will help Microsoft provide improved features and tools for extending Visual Studio and enhance the overall Visual Studio platform and ecosystem.

Ken Levy
Program Manager
Visual Studio Tools Ecosystem

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