Microsoft unveils new Visual Studio version

Visual Studio 2010 aims to break down walls between application development life-cycle roles

Microsoft Corp. today unveiled the next version of its Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE) and detailed new features of its Visual Studio Team System (VSTS).

Microsoft did not disclose a release date for the updated tool set, called Visual Studio 2010. However, the company did outline the major themes of the new release and described several new application life-cycle management (ALM) tools that will be part of VSTS 2010, which is code-named "Rosario."

The new version of the developer tool set updates Visual Studio 2008, which was made generally available in January of this year. Microsoft released the first service pack for Visual Studio 2008 last month.

Microsoft said it built Visual Studio 2010 to incorporate what the company called its five major themes -- democratized ALM, riding the next platform wave, delighting developers, breakthrough departmental apps and enabling emerging trends.

As part of the ALM focus for VSTS, Microsoft said it plans to break down the walls that now exist between different developer roles in the development life cycle, such as architects, developers and testers.

Dave Mendlen, Microsoft's director of developer marketing, said VSTS 2010 will also allow teams to configure and adopt any flavor of the Agile development process. In addition, the software is aimed at allowing both technical and nontechnical users to create and use models to work together and graphically define software functionality, the company added.

For example, Mendlen added, the new version of VSTS expands on the notion of a continuous build, which was first introduced in VS 2008 to reduce the chances that developers will "break the build" by checking in bad code. The new tool set has incorporated workflow into the continuous build effort so that an organization can customize development processes, added Cameron Skinner, product manager of VSTS.

For example, he said, a company can create diagrams that show source code that has been inspected against defined restraints, or rules a company sets up to determine if developers are following sound architectural principles. "If a rule is violated … that information is surfaced to you and you can act on it," Skinner said. "We're trying to take the architectural diagrams and get them living and breathing throughout the entire life cycle for the team."

Another new tool, called Architectural Explorer, allows architects to build a graphical model that shows relationships and dependencies of code. This type of model can more easily show developers why certain restrictions are in place and how changes they make may affect other aspects of development, Mendlen said. The new version will support both the Unified Modeling Language and Domain Specific Language.

VSTS 2010 also includes a significant focus on testing. For example, there are new features to eliminate bugs that can't be reproduced and features to ensure that all code changes are tested properly, Microsoft said.

The new version also includes a tool to help developers understand the impact of test cases related to the source code being modified. As a developer makes changes, a window appears that shows the tests that would be impacted by those changes.

Developers and testers often have an adversarial relationship because a tester will find a bug and throw it back to a developer who has to stop work, revert back to that version of the code and try to reproduce what the tester has found. Because it can be difficult for a developer to reproduce that bug, they sometimes dismiss its existence, Mendlen said. The new tool set will include what Microsoft calls "TiVo for debugging," or a way for a developer to see what Microsoft describes as a video of the tester discovering the bug.

"We're actually capturing what is happening during the test process -- the entire state of the machine," Mendlen added. "The developer can watch the video and ... running this tool will emulate the experience of debugging."

A debugging log will put the IDE into a debugging state as if the developer is running the application itself, but the developer actually will only be replaying the debugging log, he noted.

Microsoft also announced today that VSTS 2010 will combine the current development and database editions in VSTS 2008 into a unified VSTS Development and Database product.

Existing Microsoft software assurance customers who currently own Visual Studio Team System 2008 Development Edition or Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition will receive several products starting Oct. 1. The tools, distributed without charge, include the following:

  • Visual Studio Team System 2008 Development Edition
  • Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition
  • Visual Studio 2005 Team System for Software Developers
  • Visual Studio 2005 Team System for Database Professionals

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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