As developer’s everywhere know, Microsoft remains a developer’s company at heart and the core developer’s platform out of Microsoft is the Visual studio line of products. In an interview with Windows IT Pro Magazine on the Microsoft campus Dave Mendlen, Director, Developer Tools Group shared some of his thoughts about the current Visual Studio 2008 release and the upcoming Visual Studio 2010 Team System release.

First, Dave recognized teat the pace of communications has been high and customers have had trouble keeping up with all of the changes. Dave felt that Visual Studio 2008 and the .NET Framework 3.5 combine to make one of the strongest releases of the Microsoft development line-up in a long time and that developers need to know about some of the great enhancements in the product. One of the really useful features that Dave pointed was the ability to perform multi-targeting. Visual Studio 2008 can target project builds to multiple versions of the .NET Framework. Another big focus for the Visual Studio 2008 release was the ability to enable Office application development. For the first time, Visual Studio 2008 includes Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) which was previously a separate product.

Not surprisingly because of the popularly of Web 2.0 the Visual Studio 2008 release features a number of web related enhancements. Dave talked about how Visual Studio 2008 now supports ASP.NET AJAX which enables developers to create and debug rich web applications by utilizing JavaScript on the web clients. Visual Studio 2008 supports JavaScript IntelliSense and debugging. Other important web development enhancements Dave mentioned include Visual Studio 2008’s new HTML split design window and Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) support. The new split designer window enables you to see both the graphical view and the code of the web pages being developed. CSS allows the web designer to apply a consistent set of styles to a web site. Visual Studio 2008’s CCS support includes a CSS Outline Window, a Style Application Toolbar and Apply Styles and Manage Styles windows.

Other important enhancements to Visual Studio 2008 that Dave mentioned were ClickOnce Deployment and Language Integrated Query (LINQ).  End users typically prefer the user interface offered by Windows applications but Windows applications are more difficult to deploy than web applications. ClickOnce allows Windows applications to enjoy the same type of application distribution advantages found in web applications. With ClickOnce the user runs the application for the first time by clicking on a link on a web page which deploys the application to the user’s system. Later, each time the application runs it automatically checks the URL for any newer versions and automatically updates the application if a newer version is found.

Visual Studio 2008’s new LINQ technology essentially allows data access queries to be expressed directly using either the VB or C# languages. This eliminates the need to embed SQL queries within your .NET data access applications. LINQ can be used to access both relational databases like SQL Server as well as other data sources like XML. LINQ can really help developer productivity as it allows Visual Studio 2008 to use IntelliSense to prompt for things like database object names. Visual Studio 2008’s LINQ support also allows it to perform syntax checking at design time rather than having to wait to execute to the query before you know if there’s any errors.

Dave also discussed the upcoming Visual Studio 2010 Team System release. Dave shared that Visual Studio Team System is one of the fastest growing products at Microsoft. Team System is designed to incorporate all personnel involved in the application development process including architects, DBAs, developers, and testers. Driven by customer demand, the Visual Studio 2010 Team System will incorporate the functionality that is currently found in the Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition. In addition, the new release will provide a graphical UML designer and integrated unit testing where code changes can be tested before they are checked into Visual Studio Team System’s source control. The Visual Studio 2010 Team System release will also include a new Test Runner feature that enables testers to take a snapshot of the test scenario and use it to replay the test scenario helping to eliminate hard to reproduce bugs.

If you want to check out the new changes to Visual Studio 2008 you can either visit the virtual lab or download a 90 day trial version at: http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/en-us/try/default.mspx

You can download a 90-day free trial edition of Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite from: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=D95598D7-AA6E-4F24-82E3-81570C5384CB&displaylang=en. The trial version of Team Foundation Server can also be found at: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=B0155166-B0A3-436E-AC95-37D7E39A440C&displaylang=en

The completely free versions of Visual Studio 2008 Express can be found at: http://www.microsoft.com/express/product/default.aspx