Visual Studio .NET has experienced glacially slow enterprise adoption in its first year, hindered by everything from the economic downturn to the hurdles developers face in learning the new Microsoft .NET languages. With Visual Studio .NET 2003, Microsoft's emphasis is on speeding the product's enterprise adoption rate. Here are seven important new features for database developers in Visual Studio .NET 2003.

7. Integration with Windows .NET Server


The .NET Framework's full integration with Windows .NET Server means you don't need to deploy the Common Language Runtime (CLR) to new platforms along with your .NET applications. This helps even out one advantage Java currently has over .NET.

6. Web Services Enhancements


Visual Studio .NET 2003 includes a new Web Reference dialog box that lets you browse for XML Web services in your project. The 2003 release also supports new Web services specifications such as WS-Security, WS-Routing, and WS-Attachments.

5. True Visual Development for VC++


The Windows Forms Application gives Visual C++ (VC++) developers a fully visual development environment, supporting drag-and-drop objects as well as click-through for coding—capabilities that Visual Basic .NET and C# developers already enjoyed. Other enhancements to VC++ include improved standards conformance.

4. Visual J#


Microsoft added Visual J# to the list of languages that the .NET platform supports. Visual J# is fully compatible with Java syntax, making it easy to convert your Java applications to the .NET platform. Note that Visual J# applications aren't Java applications. They run on the .NET Framework—not the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

3. ODBC .NET Data Provider


Microsoft also added the ODBC .NET Data Provider to the .NET Framework. Although the ODBC Data Provider was previously available as a separate download, you can now find it in the System.Data.Odbc namespace. This data provider requires that you have Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC) 2.7 installed on the client system.

2. .NET Framework Data Provider for Oracle


The .NET Framework Data Provider for Oracle is another valuable addition to Visual Studio .NET, letting you connect to Oracle 8i and 9i databases. You can find the provider in the System.Data.OracleClient namespace. It requires that you install an Oracle 8.1.7 or later client.

1. Mobile Device Support & .NET Compact Framework


For developing mobile applications, Visual Studio .NET 2003 provides integrated support for new smart-device applications and ASP.NET mobile Web application project types. The inclusion of the device emulator is fun, and a new System.Data.SQLServerCE namespace supports SQL Server CE data access.