Microsoft eyes Visual Studio advancements

Windows Presentation Foundation-based editor among many improvements planned for the development environment

Microsoft's Visual Studio software development system is getting a makeover.

With the planned Visual Studio 2010 software development environment, Microsoft intends to offer a new editor based on the company's Windows Presentation Foundation technology for visually appealing applications. The WPF effort and other developer-related revelations will be aired Monday at the TechEd developers conference in Barcelona, Spain, Microsoft said.

"We're changing the user interface, the user experience of Visual Studio, for the first time in more than a decade," Dave Mendlen, Microsoft director of developer tools marketing, said.

"We're going to make Visual Studio itself, the application, a WPF application," said Mendlen. The environment will be re-skinned to offer a much more compelling user experience. "We're trying to help the developer feel great about the environment they work in."

The WPF-based editor will offer an "unprecedented" level of insight into an application, presented in context with code in "a rich and easy to understand manner," Microsoft said.

Developers already can create WPF applications in the currently available Visual Studio 2008 release. But the 2010 version would itself leverage WPF. The upgrade would arrive around late 2009 based on estimated two-year release cycles for Visual Studio.

Also planned for the 2010 release is a code-focused enhancement called "generate from usage," in which code recognizes what the developer is trying to do and writes code on the developer's behalf. Inferences are made from code. This feature already is included in the Community of Technology Preview of Visual Studio 2010 released last week.

Visual Studio 2010 will feature full support for the Silverlight 2 rich Internet application plug-in technology. "Effectively, that means for developers who want to use Visual Studio to take advantage of editing Silverlight 2 applications, this will be the environment that has rich drag-and-drop [capabilities] for building Silverlight applications," Mendlen said.

Other features planned for Visual Studio 2010 focus on developing applications for the planned Windows 7 client operating system. Developers will be able to take advantage of the ribbon interface and live icons, which show a thumbnail image of file contents. Developers also can use Windows 7 search capabilities to search the OS for documents, metadata, and e-mail. Multi-touch capabilities also can be leveraged.

"Multi-touch is the ability to use touch on computers that are enabled for touch computing," said Mendlen.

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