Microsoft previews development tools

Microsoft at the VSLive show has previewed several upcoming development tools, including an incremental release of its development environment, Visual Studio .Net 2003.

The company also announced public betas of technologies such as ASP .Net Starter Kits, for assisting developers with building ASP applications, and a set of tools codenamed Visual Studio Tools for Office, for adding functionality to the upcoming Office 11 applications suite.

Visual Studio .Net 2003 will incorporate offerings such as the Java Language Conversion Assistant, for moving Java applications to .Net. Code protection, in the form of obfuscation technology from PreEmptive Solutions Inc., is included to prevent incidents such as reverse-engineering of code.

The 2003 product also features increased productivity for Web services, including the ability to name a Web service. In addition, development for mobile applications for the Web or for devices is being enhanced so that it will be similar to development of desktop applications, according to Microsoft.

Debugging is improved via a feature called Intellisense. A UDDI directory server is integrated within Visual Studio .Net 2003.

Eric Rudder, senior vice president of the Microsoft Development Platform Evangelism Division, stressed the company's commitment to price-performance with its development platform.

"We know that the platform provides the best economics," Rudder said.

"I'm confident that our platform offers the best price performance over any others," he added.

Visual Studio .Net 2003 is planned for shipment on April 24, when Microsoft ships the next version of Windows Server.

ASP.Net Starter Kits, to be offered for free, are intended to help developers quickly build ASP applications. Starter kits are included for community, portals, time tracker, reports, and commerce applications. The company may at some point expand the starter kits to include applications such as Web logging, according to Shawn Nandi, product manager in Microsoft's developer division, in Redmond, Wash. Web logging may be added to the community kit, he said.

Visual Studio Tools for Office, due for beta release in March, is intended to enable development of applications to extend the Word and Excel applications within Office 11. It may be extended to additional applications such as Sharepoint. Visual Studio Tools for Office will function with Visual Studio .Net 2003.

"We're not trying to replace VBA [Visual Basic for Applications], we're trying to provide additional tools for Visual Studio developers," said Robert Green, Microsoft Visual Studio lead product manager, also in Redmond, Wash.

Developers will be able to map XML data into a spreadsheet for accessing data within spreadsheets.

Visual Studio Tools for Office features a security model in which only code can be run from trusted locations or documents.

Also at VSLive:

* Microsoft and AmberPoint Inc., a provider of Web services management solutions, announced an agreement to build tools and management technology to help customers manage distributed applications based on the Microsoft .Net Framework. The combination will feature AmberPoint Web services management strengths and Microsoft's tools, platform, and management offerings. AmberPoint also announced its participation in the Microsoft Visual Studio .Net Integration Program.

* In conjunction with the show, Borland Software Corp. announced Optimizeit Profiler for the Microsoft .Net Framework, to gauge performance management in application development. Borland also announced participation in the Visual Studio .Net Integration Program.

* ArtinSoft SA announced availability of an updated version WinForms to Web Conversion Assistant, a conversion tool to Web-enable Windows applications within Visual Studio .Net 2003.

* Groove Networks Inc. announced the production-ready version of its Groove Toolkit for Microsoft Visual Studio .Net, enabling developers to build collaborative software solutions for the Groove platform via Visual Studio .Net.

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