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Visual Studio 2007 Preview

Do you wonder what will be in the next edition of Visual Studio? MSDN's Showtime has a copy of the TechEd presentation on the upcoming "Orcas" release. Highlights include framework multi-targeting, rich CSS support, enhanced JavaScript Intellisense and debugging.

The top customer issue they want to address is the performance issues of the IDE itself. Many .NET developers have complained that Visual Studio has been getting increasing slower from version to version. Both the VS 2003-style Web Application projects and the VS 2005-style Web Site projects will be fully supported going forward.

VS Orcas will be the first version that supports framework multi-targeting. You will be able to use it to work on .NET 2.0, 3.0 and 3.5 frameworks. The framework version is selected when the project is created and the IDE filters out references and controls that do not apply to the desired version. They are able to do this because .NET 3.0 and 3.5 will be using the same runtime as 2.0. Essentially the new versions are just additional libraries and, in the case of 3.5, new compilers.

Visual Studio is adding features from Web Expressions for supporting web design development such as rich CSS support. Selecting a div in the editor will show you how it is positioned by displaying anchor lines, margins, and padding. All styles that affect the selected element are listed in the CSS property window with visual indicators when one style overrides another for a given attribute.

The HTML produced by server-side controls will also be more transparent to allow for more control over style via CSS. One example is the new ListView control. Unlike its predecessor, the DataList control, which always uses a table or span, it gives you full control over the markup being emitted.

Design time support for AJAX is expected to be improved. Extender controls can be attached to other server side controls to add AJAX features such as auto-complete. The properties of the extender will be listed alongside the properties of the base control.

Intellisense and syntax validation support will be greatly enhanced for JavaScript. Much of this is based on the real time type interference for variables and function returns. To support library designers, VS will now support Intellisense and XML comments across file references.

Internet Explorer improvements will include HTTP tracing and stronger ties to the VS script debugger. Breakpoint mapping between ASPX pages and the rendered JavaScript will now be supported.

Blinq will also be available in this release. Blinq is a tool to auto-generate ASP.NET web pages based on a database schema. These pages support insert, update, and delete as well as sorting and paging. Once generated, these pages can be used as-is or customized like other ASPX pages. Blinq is built on top of the LINQ extensions.

Microsoft released a CTP of Visual Studio in January as both a Virtual PC image and as an installer. Note, do not install this CTP on a production machine. If you do not have a test machine, it is highly recommended that you use the Virtual PC image.

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