Visual Studio 2008 Review – Part 1

Visual Studio 2008 is finally here. It brings more enhancements and language features than any previous version of the Microsoft IDE. I will try to review some of these as time goes on. Today I will focus on some of my first and most obvious additions to features and the user interface of the IDE. Also I am including some screenshots to tempt all of you to download it and use it.

Find out more about purchasing Visual Studio 2008

First of all the traditional Microsoft splash screen – updated for this version:

The first thing you will notice once the IDE has finished loading is the new and slightly slicker menu and toolbars. The usual Recent Projects area and RSS news reader from MSDN are still there as well.

One of the greatest new features of Visual Studio 2008 is the ability to choose which version of the .NET Framework you wish to target your new project. Have a look at the highlighted drop down list in the New Project window. This new feature is very powerful. It will allow developers still working on legacy versions of the .NET Framework to still take advantage of the new IDE features.

One of my favourite new features is the new split view of web pages. The new view allows you to edit the source of page but still view the design of the page at the same time. This feature works well but the synchronisation of the content is not immediate. Most times for changes to appear in the design split view you need to save your code.

One of the final little helpful features I will show in this post, is the window switcher (ctrl + tab) inside the IDE. As you know using this combination allows to switch between documents in an MDI environment. Microsoft decided to add a bit of Vista magic to Visual Studio. Even though it is not as good as Flip 3D, using this feature now allows you to get a small preview of your window contents (like alt + tab in Vista)!

Hope this got your appetite going – more soon!
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9 thoughts on “Visual Studio 2008 Review – Part 1

  1. >I think that the coolest new feature is Code Metrics. I’ve used it to see which of my methods may need a tune-up or where to refactor. Luckily, none of my methods have been classified as “unmaintainable” yet 😉

  2. >I agree – Code Metrics is a great feature to integrate to VS. Until now I had to write all sort of strange scripts to integrate it into our build process (CruiseControl). I will cover code metrics very soon – I promise. Thank you for your comment.Joe

  3. >Wow, Microsoft has hit the mark with Visual Studio 2008.I usually don’t use products from Microsoft for production first release.I reccomend all versions of .Net programming all people do use this new product immediately.I don’t have time to go into all the details of time savings, features, enhancements but all I can say once again is WOW!I have been developing software for over 26 years now on many platforms using many tools and this product is by far the most innovative, exicitng, and best of breed ever produced in our industry.Thank You Microsoft.Charles Hurley

  4. >Overall, Visual Studio 2008 is a great product. Coming from a VS2005 user to VS2008, there are a lot of things that make my life more productive. One caveat is that VC9 has some issue with CLI/CLR compatibility. Some code is still not able to compile using the new compilers due to some changes made to make managed and native code interoperable. I do not use mixed environment code, but the current bug affects the compliation of code on both sides. I personally like the new thread debugger and split screen view for web coding, in addition to Silverlight support and improved syntax highlighting/Channel9 had an interview with the IntelliSense parser developer, and VC10 (VS 2010) will have a rewritten parser which allows for faster tooltip generation. Look forward to the next release for that alone, but suffice to say that VS2005 SP1 and VS2008 do quite well at negotiating the code.- James C. (sparcdr)

  5. Wow. I’m surprised there are so many positive reviews. I upgraded from VS2003. I’m not sure it was worth the money (despite the fact that the upgrade price was lower than past versions). I’m a C++ programmer. The Intellisense in VS2003 worked about 80% of the time. In VS2008, it works about 30-40% of the time. It’s so irritating. Maybe this is only a problem for C++. Even the intellisense for MFC classes often fails to work. I’ve also noticed that the Intellisense sometimes only shows information for the current class, and sometimes for the base class. But, it will often not show any information for classes two levels down.The help system doesn’t work well. In VS2003, I could quickly get information by hitting the F1 key, but in VS2008, it takes about 10 seconds to bring up the help browser, then it gives a selection of help topics (often the first one isn’t the best one – so you need to click through a few). In VS2003, at least it tended to find the right topic (at least when it found the right class/method combination). VS2008 suffers that same problem – I’ll ask for help on a specific method and it will bring up a method that has the same name, but is for a completely different class.I had really hoped Microsoft would’ve fixed the problems in VS2003 within the last five years, but they didn’t. They made VS2008 worse. Maybe things are a lot better for C# or web developers. As far as C++ programming goes, I’m seriously thinking of moving to a different IDE in the future because VisualStudio has apparently reached the point of collapsing under it’s own weight. Maybe the code is unmaintainable, or maybe MS just is devoting their less-talented developers to the C++ parts of VisualStudio. But, if you work in C++, the upgrade isn’t worth the money.

  6. >I have found the help system (F1) to be essentially useless in 2005 and 2008. It takes 10-15 seconds to open, and it almost always opens on a page that has nothing to do with my highlighted term. I’m MUCH better off just switching to a browser window and Googling the term I need more info about. We have reached the point where the web outperforms any built-in help system and MS should just remove this feature if they can’t get it right.

  7. >Ask the hardware developers who have provided example VB6 or VB5 code for their devices how they feel about Visual Studio 2008. I don't think they are very happy.

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