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Recapping Visual Studio Beta Release Week

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This past week has seen a flurry of activity surrounding the Beta releases of Windows 8, Windows Server 8, and Visual Studio 11. As the media embargoed lifted, many Microsoft developers published their own notes on the releases. Here are some highlights.

Visual Studio 11 is offered in 4 versions that offer differing functionality. While VS11 Ultimate is all-encompassing, and VS11 Test Professional is at the other extreme, it may be hard to differentiate between VS11 Premium and VS11 Professional. An in-depth feature guide has been provided by Microsoft:

Thumbnail Comparing Visual Studio 11 Editions

Channel 9's Robert Green had Jason Zander (Corporate Vice President / Developer Division at Microsoft) demonstrate some highlights of VS11. While the color aspects were not directly addressed, Zander did explain that their intent was to reduce clutter and improve navigation. Looking at VS functionality, Zander reiterated Microsoft's desire to provide greater support for JavaScript. Towards that end, and to assist with IntelliSense, VS11 hosts the same JavaScript engine that is used by Internet Explorer.

The developers working on the unit testing capability for VS11 were originally given a target to support 1 million unit tests in the IDE. Zander explains that while this goal wasn't reached, the ultimate intent was to make for a more robust product and that VS11 was able to handle roughly 100,000 unit tests based on internal performance tests. Comparable numbers for VS2010 were not given, but it was stated that it would fare a lot worse. Total overall performance improvement remains an ongoing of the team according to Zander.

Finally, along with the UI changes made to the color palette, some new user-interface changes were also presented:

  • Hubs – Solution Explorer and Team Explorer have been revised so that they have improved synchronization when navigating a project
  • Multi-instancing – VS11 allows multiple instances of Solution Explorer can be run, showing different views of a project
  • Preview Tab – A dedicated tab has now been created for previewing files. This reduces clutter as a developer maneuvers through source files so that a new tab is not opened for each file opened unless the developers specifically wants this behavior.
  • History – Shows the steps taken by a developer through a project, regardless if the files affected are currently open.


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