What's Coming - Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005, and More.

The following is the editorial from the June 14th CodeGuru eNewsletter. I'm reposting this information here as an article because I though you might find interest in it. I've also added a few additional comments throughout the editorial. You'll see them in italic.

Last week, I spent a lot of time at Microsoft's Tech Ed conference. [This conference was June 5th through the 10th.] This conference is always great to attend because you can meet with people as well as learn a great deal of information in the sessions. This year was no exception.

While Bill Gates didn't attend, Steve Ballmer and Paul Flessner did. Both presented keynote talks outlining some of the key technologies that Microsoft has rolled out or will be rolling out in the near future. As I mentioned last week, there weren't a lot of surprises; however, a number of items were mentioned. I'll be writing more details on these items over the coming weeks. For now, I'll highlight a few items here for you:

Connectivity was a centerpiece for Steve Ballmer's presentation. While the catch phrase "New World of Work" seemed goofy to me, it was stated over and over by Ballmer and Flessner in their presentations. This "new world of work" is the fact that people need information at any time from anywhere and on any platform. This can be achieved via connectivity and standardization. [Interstingly, JavaOne is Sun's conference, which is occurring this week. Some of the big themes there are also focused on Business Process integration and the ability for openness and collaboration. It looks like Sun wants to play nicely together!]

The New World Of Work

Microsoft indicated a number of products that will help in achieving this "new world of work." Active Directory is the tool they indicated would be a key in making this all work. Additionally, new versions of SQL Server (2005), Visual Studio (2005), and other products would also help. To that end, Flessner announced that Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005, and BizTalk Server 2006 would all release the week of November 7th of this year.

RFID has been getting lots of press in the last year or two. Flessner announced an RFID Infrastructure that should be available in 2006. This will help to make using RFID in your applications much easier. As an example of using RFID, they provided all the attendees at Tech Ed a RFID tag. They were then able to monitor when these tags entered different areas of the convention center. We'll cover more on this at CodeGuru in a future article. [I had some time to talk with a few people at Microsoft last week. It is interesting to note that the initiatives for RFID are coming from the same group that does Microsoft's BizTalk Server product!]

Visual Studio

Being that you come to CodeGuru, there is a good chance you use Visual Studio. You can already find a number of articles on the site that talk about new features in the 2005 version that will be out in November [More specifically, it will be released the week of November 7th].

Some of the highlights that Flessner mentioned include a 50 to 75% reduction in the amount of code needed for most common scenarios. Stated a different way, with Visual Studio 2005, there are a number of common situations (such as working with a database) that you will be able to code in less than half the number of lines of code than if you are using an earlier version of Visual Studio. With Visual Basic, there are many common things that can now be done with a single line of code (Look for an article on this in the near future!).

Other changes in Visual Studio 2005 include a significant improvement in performance for 64-bit development. There is also improved smart client development with the ease of using the Web, yet the power of Windows. There is also the addition of ClickOnce deployment that allows you to install and update applications easily over the Web — with a single click! There are also tons of individual improvements in each of the core language products including Visual Basic, C#, and C++. In fact, C++ developers gain a lot more this time than they have in the past. C# guys get new features as well, such as Edit-and-Continue, generics, partial types, anonymous methods, and more. VB developers will get similar things as well as a new statements (Using and Continue), new keywords (Global), the addition of the My namespace, and much more.

 

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What's Coming - Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005, and More.

SQL Server 2005

SQL Server 2005 is also coming in November with lots of new improvements. This is the first major update of the database in about five years. [In a meeting last week at Microsoft, it was stated that conversations about SQL Server have changed. Two years ago, the focus was on credibility and issues such as will you scale, are you credible, and are you secure. Now the focus of convesations is on reducing cost and on 'how' things can be done with SQL Server.]

You can expect to see improvements such as database mirroring, failover clustering, "always online," snapshot isolation, and much more. You'll also be able to do stored procedures using Visual Basic or .NET rather than being forced into using SQL.

If you want to check out Visual Studio 2005 or SQL Server 2005, you can check on the Microsoft site for copies of the latest beta or CTP. [For SQL Server June 2005 Community Technology Preview, go here. For the SQL Server 2005 Express Edition beta, you can go here. For the Visual Studio 2005 Express Edition betas, you can go here. For Visual Studio 2005 Team System betas, you can go here. These links worked today, but I can't guarantee they will continue to work.]

VSTO

The final topic that I'll mention is Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO). Microsoft has been pushing this product for several years. This year, however, they seem to have turned this from what seemed like an end-user product to one that we, as developers, can take seriously.

Microsoft has included the ability to use Outlook as a part of the Office products that can be customized using VSTO. This is in addition to Word and Excel. By using VSTO, you now can embed .NET programming into Outlook. The result is that you can customize Outlook with business functionality. Let's face it; most people spend a good portion of their working day in e-mail. By bringing business functionality into Outlook (or Outlook functionality into your business applications), you can streamline your users' workflow.

This ability to tie together e-mail, business logic, client information, reporting, and calendaring can lead to some very interesting applications. As a result, VSTO is now a tool worth looking into and using. The one draw back is that VSTO only works with the newer versions of Office.

As a side note, if you have beta 2 of Visual Studio 2005, you will find that VSTO is also now embedded into the product as additional project types rather than having you go to Word or Excel. More importantly, you may find that you don't have a project type for Outlook. The Outlook piece was not a part of the beta 2 release, but I've been told it can be obtained online. With the addition of this add-on, you then can start creating Outlook projects as well.

Conclusion...

Microsoft is pushing "the new world of work" as a connected world. They are releasing tools that should help make this possible. They've announced a release date and they've shown betas of what is coming. Now it is just a matter of seeing if November is a real date.

I've barely scratched the surface of what was stated and presented at Tech Ed. Over the coming weeks, you can expect to see even more information on what was learned at this year's conference and in meeting with a number of Microsoft product people one-on-one.

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About the Author

Bradley Jones

Bradley Jones, in addition to managing CodeGuru, Brad! oversees the Developer.com Newtwork of sites including Codeguru, Developer.com, DevX, VBForums, and over a dozen more with a focus on software development and database technologies. His experience includes development in C, C++, VB, some Java, C#, ASP, COBOL, and more as well as having been a developer, consultant, analyst, lead, and much more. His recent books include Teach Yourself the C# Language in 21 Days, Web 2.0 Heroes, and Windows Live Essentials and Services.
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