Microsoft shared the information of its upcoming products code-named "Visual Studio 11" Beta and .NET Framework 4.5 Beta that will be relesing on February 29. "VS11 offers an improved developer experience that includes a simplified user interface designed to keep developers focused on their work, with fewer distractions and easier access to the tools they need," blogged Microsoft.
"'Visual Studio 11' provides an integrated development experience that seamlessly spans the entire lifecycle of software creation -- from architecture and user interface design to code creation, insight and analysis, deployment, testing, and validation. Visual Studio application lifecycle management (ALM) capabilities help project stakeholders work together at every step in the development cycle to deliver high-quality applications. In addition, VS11 beta includes support for Windows 8 and Web development, which are supported by Visual Studio Express for Windows 8 and "Visual Studio 11" Express for Web, respectively," informs Microsoft.
"Visual Studio 11" Team Foundation Server (TFS) Beta provides the collaboration hub at the center of the Visual Studio ALM solution. "From start to finish, teams can track projects through each stage of software development, from keeping tabs on version control to continually deploying software updates. The new ALM capabilities help ensure diverse team members integrate as one in the development cycle," the Redmond software explains.
TFS automates the software delivery process and gives developers the tools they need to effectively manage software development projects throughout the IT lifecycle.
Microsoft also announced "Team Foundation Server Express," which includes core developer features, such as Source Code Control, Work Item Tracking, Build Automation and Agile Taskboard, and is available for free to individuals and teams of up to five members.
"Visual Studio 11" including following features:
- Reduced toolbar commands on toolbars in the user interface. "These commands can still be accessed through the drop-down menus or added back onto the toolbar if the user wants them, but now the default work area is significantly larger," Microsoft informs.
- Simplified graphics. VS11 eliminates the use of color within tools except in cases where color is used for notification or status change purposes. Now, the user interface competes far less with the developer's content. Other user interface graphics, such as line work and iconography, also have been simplified to be less distracting.
- Comprehensive search, allow developers to quickly find what they are looking for within commands and configuration options, tool windows, and open files.
- Workflow hubs combine common tasks into one simplified window. Rather than force developers to interact with two or more tool windows to get tasks done, "Visual Studio 11" streamlines common tasks so that many can be accomplished from within a single window.
- Preview Tabs let developers view the contents of documents, which get reused as the developer works. As a result, developers no longer end up with large numbers of extraneous documents open as a byproduct of common tasks such as debugging or browsing results.
Microsoft also slipped in a new screenshot of the PowerPoint Storyboarding tool that will ship as part of Visual Studio 11.
The tool ships as an add-in for PowerPoint, will allow designers and developers to quickly mock up wireframe-based prototypes of their application using familiar presentation tools and animations, along with a host of UI controls which they can drag and drop to replicate a real application experience.
Windows desktop, Windows Phone mobile and web applications are all supported with a range of templates and controls suited to each scenario.
In contrast to Expression Blend SketchFlow which builds XAML-ready prototypes with real controls stylized to look like sketches, I think PowerPoint is a much easier tool for earlier stages of the design process. The fact that Expression Blend is dog slow, difficult to use and makes crappy XAML doesn't help its cause either.
VS11 also providing a continuous flow of value, allowing teams to use agile processes, and gather feedback early and often. Storyboarding and Feedback Manager enable development teams to react rapidly to change, allowing stakeholder requirements to be captured and traced throughout the entire delivery cycle.
It also introduces support for teams working together in the DevOps cycle. IntelliTrace in production allows teams to debug issues that occur on production servers, which is a key capability for software teams delivering services.
.NET Framework 4.5 has been enhanced significantly to enable developers to be as productive as possible while building rich, reliable and high-performance software in managed code.
"There are also improvements from regular expression processing to better support for compression standards, enhanced support for HTML5, developer productivity enhancements in Entity Framework, optimized mobile experiences through ASP.NET, and more, ensuring .NET Framework 4.5 has something new for all developers building for the client and the cloud," informs Microsoft.
C# and Visual Basic languages now have built-in support for writing asynchronous code almost as easily as if it were synchronous. And to help developers tackle data-complex problems, F# integrates Type Providers to make data access trivial in F# programs and components.
Common Language Runtime has been overhauled to provide better performance, in particular for server applications and services. "With additions such as background server garbage collection, multicore background JIT compilation and profile-guided optimization, managed applications can now start faster and run with better throughput and lower latency," Microsoft said.
.NET Framework 4.5 builds upon the high-quality networking libraries already available in .NET to further enable the development of increasingly connected applications. New support spans from modern HTTP libraries to WebSockets to support for contract-first service development.
We will update this post on Feb. 29 to include the download links for both the "Visual Studio 11" Beta and .NET Framework 4.5 Beta. Meanwhile, check the Visual Studio 11 Beta product page.
In the video below, Sam Zaiss walks through two brief developer scenarios and shows how Microsoft has improved the experience through thoughtful reduction in the IDE and simplification of VS11 developer workflows.
Video: Visual Studio 11 Developer Experience Demo