Visual Studio Orcas is getting closer

I have been using various blends of Visual Studio since 1998. Back then, we coded C++ in version 6.0 and thought we were happy. Four years later, Visual Studio .NET (version 7.0) came along and made most of us say goodbye to unmanaged development environments.

But we wouldn’t be developers if we didn’t have an eye firmly kept on the horizon, and today we see Orcas – the successor to Visual Studio 2005 (Whidbey). Just like Whidbey, Orcas is named after an island in the Puget Sound near Redmond, the stronghold of Microsoft. (In case you were wondering: The successor to Orcas is named… Hawaii.)

Orcas will most likely be released during 2007 and there are already interesting CTP versions available which demonstrates several cool features:

  • You can target multiple versions of the .NET Framework. Being able to open and create projects for .NET Framework 2.0, 3.0 and 3.5 will be great, since you have access to most of the new Orcas environment features while working on an “old” project.

    Frankly, I thought this would appear in Visual Studio 2005 but sadly it didn’t.

    Unfortunately there is no support for 1.1 in there.

  • Improved support for Javascript and Ajax. The Microsoft Ajax 1.0 functionality is available out of the box, as well as a Javascript debugger and intellisense engine. This means you can set client-JavaScript breakpoints within your server-code. Wicked.

    Meanwhile, I guess we’re stuck with the Aptana IDE.

  • Improved WYSIWYG designer. At an earlier stage, it was said that Microsoft’s Expression Web Designer would be integrated into Orcas, which is only part of the truth.

    The Orcas designer is called Sapphire, using the same components as EWD. Even though a lot of the goodies from EWD are missing in Sapphire, it is still a giant step for mankind compared to the crap in previous versions of Visual Studio. Improved CSS support, split view (HTML and WYSIWYG design) and the usual stuff.

    However, the world would be a better place if people stopped using the design view all the time. Shut it off, it will only give you headache.

  • New C# language features such as extension methods, automatic properties and more. In short, it’s about enabling shorter syntax while retaining same semantics.

    There is also the cool DLINQ, which provides a runtime framework for managing relational data as objects. This is done by translating LINQ queries into SQL statements which are executed by the database. DLINQ will be integreated into Orcas, but you can already create LINQ-enabled ASP.NET sites in VS 2005 today, using the CTP versions available.

  • XSLT debugger.

Want to give it a try? The lastest beta is the March 2007 CTP.

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