Developers give thumbs-up to Visual Studio.Net

Microsoft Corp. Wednesday will release Visual Studio.Net, but developers who have been using the beta versions are already singing the development tool’s praises.

“”I don’ t think revolutions happens anymore, but this is a case

that deserves (to be called) revolutionary,”” said Adam Commander, vice-president of software development at Redmond, Wash.-based Austin Sierra Technologies. “”There’s nothing else on the market that compares with the speed of Visual Studio.Net.””

Visual Studio.Net is a rapid application development (RAD) tool for building Web applications and XML Web services. XML Web services allow applications and devices to speak to each other and share data over the Internet in spite of their operating systems or programming languages. Visual Studio.Net is a lynchpin of .Net itself, Microsoft’s platform for XML services. The company plans to formally announce the product at the VSLive! Conference Wednesday in San Francisco.

The leap for developers with Visual Studio.Net is that the tool enables development of both Windows applications and Web applications in the same environment.

“”The way you develop Windows applications now under Visual Studio is the way you develop Web applications and vice versa, and that’s extraordinary,”” said Commander, whose company has been using the tool for the past five months. The company ha s developed a commercial component for the .Net platform that enhances the database capabilities of Visual Studio.Net.

“”You can do it all in one environment; I think that’s a very strong factor,”” added Eric Promislow, senior developer for Vancouver- based ActiveState Corp.

ActiveState has been using Visual Studio.Net betas to build plug-ins that allow the tool to support programming languages like Perl and Python.

Promislow also touted the merits of C#, a Microsoft programming language that serves as a major component of Visual Studio.Net. He said C# in Visual Studio.Net functions better than other languages inside other applications and that he can build an editor with C# in Visual Studio.Net in just two hours.

“”I find for C#, it’s a superb environment,”” Promislow said. “”The language itself is tightly integrated into the environment.””

Still, both Promislow and Commander said there are some hurdles that need to be overcome with Visual Studio.Net. Commander said developers will need to already be familiar with modern programming theory to effectively use the tool.

“”For VB 6 (Visual Basic 6) programmers, it’s brand new, so there’s going to be a learning curve,”” Commander said. “”For good, modern development that’s supportable, you really, really need to understand that concept of object-oriented programming,”” he said.

“”One of the biggest steps to climb is that Visual Studio is a project-oriented environment rather than a file-based environment,”” added Promislow.

Still Commander said he thinks Visual Studio.Net will have a big impact on the development community. He said it will take some time for it to become part of the standard tool set, and that for Windows applications, there are still plenty of good alternatives to Visual Studio.Net. But he predicted Visual Studio.Net will become the No. 1 choice for Web development over the next 12 to 18 months.

“”On the Web side, there is nothing that compares,”” he said.

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