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Inside Visual Studio 2008

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Visual Studio 2008 Projects

LINQ facilities span over all types of projects where database access and queries make sense. But other improvements are specific to web projects. For example, the editor of master pages has been enhanced to fully support nested master pages. Nested master pages were already working in ASP.NET 2.0, but were not fully backed by the visual designer of Visual Studio 2005. In addition, Visual Studio 2008 delivers support for split-view editing and a new CSS designer. A JavaScript debugger and IntelliSense extended to JavaScript classes complete the offering for web developers. From the framework perspective, the .NET Framework 3.5 has built-in support for AJAX that goes a little beyond what was already released as ASP.NET AJAX Extensions 1.0 for ASP.NET 2.0. In addition to features such as UpdatePanel and ScriptManager, you find AJAX-enabled Web Parts, WCF support for JSON, plus bug fixes and performance improvements.

On the Windows side, in Visual Studio 2008 you finally have a true WPF designer with a toolbox and a classic Properties box. Figure 5 previews the feature.

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Figure 5: WPF designer in Visual Studio 2008.

Visual Studio 2008 also has flavors specifically created to facilitate tests and full application management, such as Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite and Visual Studio 2008 Team Foundation Server. The good news is that unit testing support is not just faster, but is included in the Professional edition of Visual Studio 2008.

WCF and Workflow Support

Version 3.0 was the first version of .NET to ship without a dedicated version of Visual Studio. Microsoft released a few extensions to Visual Studio to make it easier for developers to build WCF services and workflows, but in fact it just separates downloads. WCF and workflow projects and related renewed designers are included in Visual Studio 2008. Figure 6 shows the workflow designer whose toolbox distinguishes between version 3.0 and 3.5 activities. The newest activities include an activity to send and receive JSON data to and from a WCF service.

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Figure 6: Workflow designer in Visual Studio 2008.

Conclusion

Visual Studio is Microsoft's flagship for developers, and Visual Studio 2008 is the first version of Visual Studio to support multiple version of .NET. You can choose the target platform when you create the project and find around you an IDE that offers only controls and components adequate to the target platform. The improved capabilities of editors and designers, though, are shared by all projects, regardless of the platform. Visual Studio 2008 fully integrates in the IDE tools for creating workflows as well as WCF and WPF assemblies. It also brings in AJAX capabilities in ASP.NET web projects and adds JavaScript to the list of languages for which it can offer serious debugging and IntelliSense features. Available in a variety of formats such as Standard, Professional, and Team Suite, it is also available in free Express versions.


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