Monday, 10 November 2008

Day 1 : The Keynote

After introductory comments and reinforcement of the Azure message, Jason Zander, general manager of visual studio team developer division of Microsoft took to the stage to present the future of visual studio in the guise of visual studio 2010. It got off to a flying start as VS crashed within a few minutes of the demo - but lets face it this IS pre-alpha software, so is easily forgiven.

Amid many new enhancements in 2010, there were key improvements discussed in the following areas;

  • Understanding the code
  • Building web applications
  • Creating office business applications
  • Using the power of C++

There was quite a lot of depth to some of these changes, but to summarise some of what I felt were the more important ones;

A new "architecture explorer", is being introduced to help you visualise the structure and dependencies within your solution. It visually displays the relationships between assemblies within a project and provides drill down into the assemblies to see relationships between individual classes and namespaces and the connections between them are weighted according to the level of dependency.

In addition to visualising the dependencies between areas of your solutions, individual portions of code can be extrapolated into UML 2.1.1 sequence diagrams - which is a useful addition, and I'm hoping this eludes to visual studio 2010 ultimately supporting UML modelling out of the box.

Testing was a major focus for the next release, with 2010 introducing the testing activity centre, code-named Comono(?). This is a test environment for managing and running manual scripted tests. This is a major boon for the end-to-end experience and integrates into new debugging facilities in visual studio and TFS. Some of the highlights for this new facility;

  • Testers are presented with scripted steps to follow - test steps are marked as passing or failing.
  • During testing, the system is able to take video of what the tester is doing as part of their session and also record replay information about the state of the application that can be replayed in the debugger within visual studio.
  • When failures occur, a bug can be entered directly into TFS, attaching any video or replay session.
  • In TFS, viewing any raised bugs from this process shows a list of steps the tester took, and each step provides a hyperlink to the timecode within the video so you can see exactly what the tester was doing.
  • Historical debugging of the testers snapshot allows debugging of the testers session.
  • The aim and objective of this suite is to eliminate the "unable to reproduce" responses developers often run into and to bring manual testing into the managed process.

Alongside this new manual test studio, is the test lab management facilities. This allows virtual test environments (eg; different servers for various tiers) to be provisioned and used within the test. Again this is integrated back to TFS and visual studio, allowing virtual machines to be restored into the state they were at the point a bug was raised.

Within visual studio, the editor itself has had a complete WPF overhaul. As a result of this, the editor can take advantage of lots of WPF goodness like the ability to contain and display any form of information, from the source code we know and love, to diagrams, graphics and other glyphs that might help us to understand or navigate the code more efficiently. The editor uses the extensibility framework (MEF) allowing for multiple add-ins for the editor and add-ins on add-ins on add-ins. X-copy deployment of extensions will also be supported as a by-product.

The editor provides for intellisense support for jQuery and also offers a bunch of new refactoring capabilities - which I can't help but think treads on the toes of Resharper, which has got to annoy JetBrains somewhat.

A new configuration transformer toolset is provided, which allows you to define transformation rules that will be applied when an application (web in this case) is deployed to various environments. Eg: Ability to change connection strings when preparing for production deployment versus debug deployment etc. One touch publishing of websites is also a new facility, where your entire web application is built and zipped into a single file ready for deployment with msdeploy.

In the sharepoint space, demonstrations were given on the new sharepoint server explorer extensions and the WSP importer, which looks like it should speed up sharepoint development no end, especially tied to the new packaging explorer which allows you to package and deploy sharepoint applications easily.

Finally, Jason demonstrated several new features of C++ including running parallel for loops and such like for performance.

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