Visual Studio 2008 Has Shipped... Is it Time to Upgrade?

By KENT SHARKEY on 3/2/2008 5:09:13 PM

The latest version of Visual Studio and the .NET Framework launched on Feb 27, 2008. Since then, there have been numerous articles and presentations to showcase the new features, and developers will feel the pressure to immediately install the new release and get developing using the latest features. What's in the new version, and is it safe to make the leap now?

The most talked about feature that ships with Visual Studio 2008 is LINQ (Language INtegrated Query). LINQ is a set of extensions to the languages that enable querying objects, databases and XML using a single readable SQL-like syntax. LINQ provides a single consistent model of querying different types of data, without having to learn multiple syntaxes.

Dim q = From c In db.Customers, o In c.Orders _
Where c.City = "London" _
Select o

Dim doc = XDocument.Load(dataPath + "nw_customers.xml")
Dim query = From customer In doc... _
Order By CStr(customer..First()) _
Select customer.

For Web developers, there are improvements to both the Framework and the IDE. Visual Studio 2008 now ships with the Ajax Extensions, enabling developers to more easily create attractive, dynamic Web pages.

The editor for working on Web pages has been enhanced with the addition of Split view, CSS manager and nested Master Page support. These features give Web developers more control over their pages, and allow them to see the result of their changes without having to compile and publish the pages.

For my money, though, the one feature that made me want to upgrade is the ability of the Visual Studio 2008 to target different versions of the .NET Framework. Earlier versions of Visual Studio could only create applications based on the appropriate version of the .NET Framework (see Visual Studio Version Confusion below). This meant that developers that needed to develop for different releases of .NET would have to have multiple versions of Visual Studio installed. With Visual Studio 2008, developers can select the version of .NET they want to compile with (either 2.0 or 3.5), meaning they only need a single version installed, saving disk space.

Visual Studio 2008 is not as compelling an upgrade as Visual Studio 2005 was. However, the new features for Web and database developers, combined with the better integration with some of the newer technologies, such as Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and Windows Workflow Foundation (WF). As they can develop applications that require the older Framework, developers do not have to install multiple versions of the IDE.

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