VSLive: They came, they saw, they coded

More than 450 software developers, engineers and architects from around the globe gathered in Toronto on Wednesday to get their hands wet with visual studio programming at the Visual Studio Developers Conference held at the Toronto Congress Centre this week.

The conference, held in Canada for the first time from May 4 to May 7, is for programmers who specifically develop with the Visual Studio .Net tool suite and are interested in learning development techniques, building new applications and taking part in interactive sessions.

It was also another chance for Microsoft Corp. to highlight some of the new features being released in its next iteration of Visual Studio .Net, due out in the first half of 2005.

Some of the key focus areas include enhancements to the class libraries, common language runtime, programming languages and the integrated development environment (IDE). Visual Studio 2005 will also provide support for SQL Server 2005 by enabling developers to write stored procedures.

The main topic for keynote speaker Jay Roxe, product manager for Visual Basic with Microsoft, was improving productivity.

Roxe touched on a number of specific IDE enhancements, including the ability to create a data connection with a single line of code, also known as generics and code snippets for performing common tasks. He also talked about features such as edit and continue and My Object, what Roxe described as a speed dial for the .Net framework, making it easier for developers to find and execute the right operation.

"The goal for design features is to round out the development experience for seasoned architects as well as new developers," Roxe said.

While one attendee anticipates the entire conference will be filled with useful information, he had a special interest in Visual Studio 2005, formerly known as Whidbey, and its no-touch deployment.

Frank Kim, technical architect at Brooks-PRI Automation Inc. in Toronto, said no-touch deployment allows system administrators to deploy applications and updates to applications just as they would Web applications, via a remote server.

"There is less need for a complex install program," Kim said. "I can install over the Internet and deploy upgrades or whatever to hundreds of machines at once ... . Anything to improve deployment helps," he explained.

Microsoft has also been working toward enabling mobile application developers with capabilities similar to those commonly found for a desktop developer, so mobility took a central focus at this year's VSLive.

Visual Studio will feature wizard technology to make it easier to replicate between the upcoming SQL Server 2005 database and the mobile version database. It will also support native Active Template Library, which has been limited to desktop versions.

Attendee Elva Ballesteros, software engineer, mobile and wireless engineering with PSC Inc. in Eugene, Ore., said her company is looking to Web services for its mobile device programs.

The company, which is a global provider of data-capture solutions for retail supply chains, has been using C# for more than two years for software development, and right now it is interested in learning more about remoting.

.Net remoting provides an abstract approach to interprocess communication, according to Microsoft. It separates the remotable object from a specific client or server application domain and is flexible and easily customizable.

"We want to get more information to find out what we need to do to remote our administration," Ballesteros said.

Mobility was also an area that interested Ron Turrentine, team lead of the maintenance of business team with Bridgestone Americas' Holding Inc., a parent company for Bridgestone tires in Nashville, Tenn, an international manufacturer and a parent firm of Bridgestone Tires.

Turrentine is involved in a company-wide project about warranty adjustments, and one area he will focus a lot of time to while in Toronto is learning about Visual Studio internalization. Issues such as languages, concepts, narrowing the designs and framework conformity into networks around the world are some things he said he wants to focus on.

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Allison Taylor

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