VSLive! Keynote by Prashant Sridharan "Building a Customer-Focused Visual Studio"

Visual Studio 2005 will be the most customer-focused suite of development tools ever released by Microsoft. This was the message delivered this morning by Prashant Sridharan, senior product manager of Visual Studio 2005. Prashant has been doing a lot of traveling and speaking lately. His schedule has taken him all over the world, including many stops recently in Europe, where he regularly delivered the message of Visual Studio 2005 and Team System to groups of 1500 or more people. We were glad he could stop by VSLive! Las Vegas to update us on Visual Studio 2005’s progress and features.

His message was clear. The core Visual Studio 2005 product is awesome. With the enhanced Microsoft languages, their features include generics, iterators, partial types, and the My classes (Visual Basic). Smart client and Web development features include ClickOnce, new controls, improved designers, and better data support, and a code reduction of up to 70% in ASP.NET. This statistic caught everyone’s attention.

Microsoft’s Jay Schmelzer stepped in at this point to demonstrate the construction of a smart client application, which leveraged many of these features. Using Beta 2 and, in under ten minutes, Jay put together a decent RSS (blog) reader. The coolest thing about Jay’s application, was its striking resemblance to the look and feel of Outlook 2003. Out of the box, Visual Studio 2005 provides many of Office’s look-and-feel controls, such as an advanced Toolstrip and Taskbar. Microsoft even updated their venerable list of graphics. Look for a folder named VisualStudio2005Images under Common7 to see what I mean. Jay, being a Visual Basic guy, couldn’t help himself and had to show off VB’s code snippet and newly integrated refactoring support, thanks to Developer Express. As a finale, Jay right-clicked on his project and selected publish, which automatically generated the ClickOnce support – the ultimate delivery vehicle for smart clients.

At this point, the hundreds of VSLive! attendees were quite amazed and, if the feature presentation stopped right there, would be plenty for “the next version of Visual Studio”. Being driven by customer demand, however, means addressing the needs of many teams, small and large. Prashant went on to introduce the lineup of editions, including the many Express editions, meant for hobbyists and students. He summed it up best by saying that when an Express edition is given to a young student, he or she can quickly build cool applications and then “by accident they will learn how to program”.

The Express editions, however, have restrictions, such as not being able to access remote data sources, therefore professionals will want to the select standard or professional edition, depending on the applications they intend to build. The professional edition will support all code writing scenarios. It is equivalent in scope to the Visual Studio 2003 Enterprise Architect edition, but includes many new features as previously mentioned, as well as a nifty class designer interface.

The other end of the spectrum from Express is Team System. Team System is a suite of tools, delivered in separate editions of Visual Studio 2005, to support the entire software development lifecycle. Architects will have their own edition Visual Studio 2005 in which they will be able to use the Distributed System Designers, to model their applications and logical datacenters, as a way to “design for operations”, which is to increase the chance of a successful deployment later in the lifecycle. Developers will have an edition that includes many code quality and defect testing utilities, such dynamic and static code analyzers, performance profiling, unit testing, and code coverage. Testers can also unit test and determine code coverage. Further, they will be able to build and execute Web tests, load tests, and manual tests as well.

Team System’s success is contingent on having a strong ecosystem. This will include training, books, and new certifications. As proof of this, Microsoft Press will be handing out thousands of copies of Introducing Visual Studio 2005 Team System (beta) at Tech-Ed 2005 in Orlando and Microsoft Learning is just wrapping up development of Microsoft workshop #2631 Optimizing the Software Development Life Cycle with Microsoft Visual Studio Team System.

You could hear the pride in his voice as Prashant reiterated that Team System is going to be huge – not just as a software suite, but as a way to enable teams to write better software.

Update: Fawcette has published this here.