Microsoft details new editions of Visual Studio.NET

Microsoft on Monday unveiled two new editions of its pending Web services development suite, Visual Studio.NET.

The software giant has been developing Visual Studio.NET since at least last June's TechEd conference, and thus far has only discussed a single version, now known as Visual Studio.NET Professional.

The new versions -- Visual Studio.NET Enterprise Architect and Visual Studio.NET Enterprise Developer -- focus on three key areas: Software and database modeling; development frameworks and templates; and Web services testing.

Enterprise Architect enables architects in charge of developer groups to set rules and policies, as well as create guidelines. These can then be implemented using the developer edition, so programmers are limited in their choices.

"The guidance is built into the project, so developers are more likely to make the right choices," said Dan Hay, lead product manager at Microsoft.

Peter Urban, an analyst at AMR Research, in Boston, said that limiting programmers' choices during development prevents them from going down wrong roads.

"If you're trying to build a large enterprise project, it can help make it faster," he said.

Currently the guidelines operate under a 'soft' enforcement policy, meaning that developers receive a notice when they violate a rule, but can still choose to do so. Hay continued that when Microsoft demonstrated the soft policy to customers, they requested the ability to prohibit programmers from breaking rules.

"We won't have that in version 1, but we'll absolutely have that in a next version," he said.

One Microsoft partner ISV, San Jose, Calif.-based WebPutty, this week will release the next version of its WebPutty Server, which lets users rapidly deploy browser-based enterprise solutions.

President and CEO James Beldock said .NET has "massively increased" WebPutty's ability to get its server to users. For example, WebPutty was able to get the product to one customer -- Employee Information Systems, a drug-testing company based in Denver - nine days after receiving their specifications. He credited Visual Studio.NET for the quick turnaround.

"We're looking at three to four times less work to deliver more functionality than previously," Beldock said. "Reality is setting in with our customers that .NET does indeed exist. It was the primary customer demand in this release (of WebPutty Server), to expose everything in WebPutty applications as a .NET service. Without Visual Studio.NET we couldn't do that."

Microsoft also discussed efforts to enable third-party tools and languages to be integrated into Visual Studio. Furthering its modeling capability, Microsoft also partnered with Rational Software, in Cupertino, Calif., to integrate the latter's E-biz Accelerators and its Unified Process for .NET into Visual Studio.

"They're going to expose both via templates so they can be accessed directly from with in Visual Studio.NET," Hay added.

Additionally, Mercury Interactive, in Sunnyvale, Calif., and Microsoft announced on Monday that Mercury's Application Performance Management solutions will be integrated into Visual Studio.NET to enable developers to deploy applications and meet business requirements for functionality, reliability and scalability, as well as monitor them for performance issues.

Last week Microsoft said that beta 2 of Visual Studio.NET will be available around the time of TechEd, which begins June 17. Either they will receive code at the show, or shortly thereafter, Hay said.

Enterprise Architect and Enterprise Developer, however, will not be included in that release, according to Hay. "The entire product line will be generally available at this same time," he said.

Additional reporting by Bob Trott.

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