Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Professional review

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The release of Visual Studio 2010 has been much anticipated in developer circles, but you might struggle to see what the fuss has been all about at first. Little appears to have changed since Visual Studio 2008. Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll discover the changes are substantial.

For an experienced Visual Studio user the dockable tool-windows are likely to be the most eye-catching new feature. No longer do the toolbars and panels have to be nested inside the main window of the application. They can now be set free-floating and positioned anywhere you like, which is particularly useful if you have a multimonitor setup.

But there’s more. The IDE has been given a complete makeover, which extends from its new colour scheme to visual effects such as shaded highlights on the “code folding” bars in the editor. Visual Studio 2010 has, in fact, been extensively rewritten using managed code and the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) to bring it up to date with the latest Microsoft technologies.

Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Professional

Given this fact, it’s odd that the integrated WPF design environment hasn’t changed much, although it does finally support Silverlight projects. Silverlight is a subset of WPF aimed at the creation of browser-based applications similar to those created using Adobe Flash. In Visual Studio 2008, support for Silverlight was provided only by an optional add-in with no visual designer tool.

Microsoft claims Silverlight can be programmed using many different language,s whereas Flash is more or less restricted to ActionScript. Even so, Visual Studio doesn’t provide a huge choice. Currently, Silverlight applications can be programmed using C# or Visual Basic but not C++.

The heart of any programming IDE is its code editor and this has always been a Visual Studio strength. The new version is nothing short of remarkable. In addition to the existing syntax colouring and code folding capabilities, it can zoom code to different levels of magnification in selected windows. It has also gained an intelligent text selection feature that makes it possible to insert text onto every line of code in a selection. Want to add “this.” in front of 20 consecutive method calls? All you need to do is select your lines and type “this.” to have it instantly entered 20 times.

Details

Software subcategory Developer tools

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes

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