Microsoft offers peek at Visual Studio 2005

As FOSE 2004 came to a close, Microsoft Corp. of Redmond, Wash., gave government developers a peek at things to come with a pre-release glimpse of Visual Studio 2005.

This next version of Visual Studio will be released 'sometime in the first half of 2005,' said Robert Shelton, a technology specialist for Microsoft's federal office. Developers use Visual Studio to write and compile applications in languages such a C++, C#, Visual Basic and others.

The new version of Visual Studio will offer a lot more tools for building Web applications, Shelton said. In particular, the module for building active server page-based programs has been significantly upgraded, he said.

'The Web developer is a new type of developer that we are recognizing,' Shelton said. For this release, the company tried to cut by up to 70 percent the amount of coding needed to build a Web application, specifically by adding more point-and-click-tools to automate common tasks.

The company also extended to the ASP module many of the smaller features that programmers of other Visual Studio languages have long enjoyed, such the auto-completion of programming statements.

Shelton said most of the work being done by Web developers falls into one of three categories: building a front end of the Web page, making the Web site interact with users and providing users information drawn from databases.

Visual Studio will offer more features for automating all three tasks. Using Visual Studio, a developer can design a template that can provide a common look and feel across an entire Web site. Features similar to a portal will let users customize Web pages. The developer can also choose local or remote databases, or even Extensible Markup Language files, to serve as sources of content.

Developers can build all these features into Web applications with Visual Studio 2003, but they would have to write some code from scratch to get the jobs done, Shelton said.

In addition to the ASP features, Shelton also discussed other features new to Visual Studio. The development platform will be able to natively compile applications that will work with both 32-bit and 64-bit processors. Developers can let users choose customized skins'customized user interfaces'for their applications.

Additional security precautions will also be built in, Shelton said. Older versions of Visual Studio require Microsoft's server software to run on the same computer to test applications. Since running the software on these computers posed a security problem, Visual Studio 2005 was designed to test new programs without the need for separate server software.

Microsoft will be offering limited beta versions of Visual Studio before its release. The latest pre-release version of Visual Studio 2005 will be available at http://msdn.microsoft.com/.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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