A Brief Introduction to Visual Studio Professional 2005

By: Alicia Taylor

Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition is a complete, IDE, or "Integrated Development Environment" for professional software application developers. Its range of programming language and platform support, together with support for 64-bit computing architectures and other Microsoft technologies, mean that almost any development task can be tackled with confidence. Standalone, web and mobile solutions are all possibilities, for any platform that supports the .NET Framework 2.0, or the .NET Compact Framework 2.0.

Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition

Visually, Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition appears much the same as previous versions. The default opening screen has the look of a web portal, and provides access to online content, as well as recent products. From the point of view of productivity, however, the IDE has undergone something of a transformation. It is now much easier to see, at a glance, which sections of code have been edited, and if they have already been saved. This can be useful for a developer who needs to keep track of multiple changes to multiple files. In addition, the new "code snippets" feature allows developers to create, and maintain, a library of prewritten code, for performing various common tasks. This prewritten code can then be dropped into an application at the appropriate point, either complete, or in the form of a bare bones, skeleton, which can be fleshed out according to the application. A selection of snippets is supplied, and more are available online, so getting started is fairly quick and painless.

Life has been made easier for Windows Forms developers, too, with a range of new controls, wizards and layout models. Minor details, those that just make life easier, have not been overlooked; .NET Framework 2.0, for example, allows control of "snap" lines making control alignment neater, and easier. Similarly, other .NET Framework 2.0 controls allow application developers to access advanced operating system features, such as services, and background threads, without the need for advanced programming knowledge.

The Visual 2005 Professional Edition "bundle" includes support for Visual Basic, Visual C++, C# and VJ#, and XML and XSLT, accompanied by visual form designers and editors. It is possible, therefore, to streamline the development of each tier of a multi-tier development project, by the use of powerful editing and debugging functions throughout the development lifecycle. Visual Studio 2005 supports "Edit and Continue" for Visual Basic, and C#; this means that a developer can run an application, pause its execution, make an desired changes to the application code, and resume execution, effectively debugging that application "on the fly". "Exception Assistant" provides a new method of isolating runtime problems, which can be notoriously difficult to track down using conventional debugging techniques. The Exception Assistant provides information on the location of any exception thrown, along suggestions for possible causes, and fixes, of that exception, including links to documentation.

Crystal Reports, upgraded to support the new "ClickOnce" application deployment method, SQL Reporting Services, a development version of SQL Server 2005, and support for 64-bit compilers, are all also included in the Visual Studio 2005 Professional edition package.

Conclusion

Visual Studio 2005 Professional includes some major new features and enhancements, but, additionally, time has been taken to dot the "i"s and cross the "t"s, so that the package, as a whole, has a far more rounded look and feel. The package is likely to be a boon for Visual Basic developers, but just about anyone who cuts code on a daily basis is likely to feel the benefits of the ease of use, and the productivity, which Visual Studio 2005 Professional Edition affords.

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