Microsoft Focuses on Developer Productivity at VSLive!, Showcases New User Interface for Visual Studio 2010



Jason Zander, general manager of Visual Studio, Developer Division, Microsoft Corp.

SAN FRANCISCO — Feb. 24, 2009 — Visual Studio developers got their first look at a new user interface (UI) that has been created for Visual Studio 2010, the next version of Microsoft’s popular application development platform. Jason Zander, general manager of Visual Studio, demonstrated the new UI during his keynote presentation today at the VSLive! Conference in San Francisco.

Zander’s presentation, focused on the theme of increasing developer productivity, provided an update on Visual Studio 2008 and reviewed news about Visual Studio 2010. He described the current industry landscape and its impact on developers, highlighting the increasing need to “do more with less” and speed return on investment (ROI).

Zander also announced a partnership with Quest Software Inc. that will enable developers using Oracle databases to use Visual Studio 2010.

PressPass asked Zander to explain how the new UI, the agreement with Quest and other improvements in Visual Studio will benefit developers.

PressPass: The theme of your keynote address today was developer productivity. How do Visual Studio 2008 and the upcoming Visual Studio 2010 help developers?

Zander: Our goal with both the current and upcoming products is to provide streamlined solutions that increase developer productivity and make developers’ jobs easier.

Visual Studio 2008 was created with the core principle of enabling developers to do more with less. It delivers more than 250 new features — such as asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) testing and offline support — and contains substantial improvements to existing features. It provides tools that make the day-to-day lives of developers easier.

In the upcoming version of Visual Studio, we’re continuing on the productivity path with innovations that address simplified testing, end-to-end application life-cycle management (ALM), and better performance. Take the example of testing: one thing that typically slows down this process is the so-called “no repro” scenario. That’s where a tester reports a problem to a developer, but the developer is unable to reproduce the error. That is obviously a major roadblock to finding a permanent fix. So we’re introducing a new manual test runner that lets the tester do things such as record the test on video so a developer can later see precisely what steps led up to an error.

Another way we’re improving the coding experience is by enhancing the developer’s ability to search for symbols across projects, and to find functions even when they don’t know what they are called. Developers tell us that they can spend an enormous amount of time on code searches.

PressPass: Let’s take a step back for a second. You introduced Visual Studio 2008 in February 2008. What has been the customer reaction to it since then?

Zander: Very positive. Today there are more than 14,000 customers for Visual Studio Team System 2008 deploying more than 500,000 clients.



One of the new user interface screens for Visual Studio 2010.

Customers’ favorite features include Language-Integrated Query (LINQ) technology, which significantly reduces the amount of code developers have to write and speeds up the development process.

We’ve also heard anecdotally from customers like AppPoint Software Solutions, Xerox Corp., Xcalia S.A., TestFactory and Veracity Solutions Inc. that they have seen benefits in all phases of the software development life cycle, from early testing and development to final deployment and customization.

Since the release of Visual Studio 2008, we’ve continued to add some new functionality to help customers get more out of their existing investments, such as the Client Profile introduced with SP1, which streamlines development and deployment of client-based applications. We’ve also improved the performance and scalability of Team Foundation Server considerably, responding to growing needs for greater scalability.

We are currently offering several promotions for Visual Studio 2008 at http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio.

PressPass: Today you gave the development community its first look at the new user interface that will be part of Visual Studio 2010. What’s different with this new UI?

Zander: There’s a lot more to the new UI than just a pretty face. We’ve completely redesigned the UI for Visual Studio 2010 with one goal: making developers’ jobs easier.

The new UI for Visual Studio 2010 aims to help developers work smarter with streamlined features and increased control of the Integrated Development Environment (IDE), but without creating a new learning curve for existing Visual Studio users. As developers, we spend a lot of time in our IDE. So it’s all about how to make your experience with the IDE most successful. Visual Studio 2010 now features a reorganized layout with file menus and commands on a “shelf” at the top of the IDE.

We’ve also used Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) technology to make improvements to the toolbars and menu bars, as well as to create a new text editor that allows developers to integrate things like more advanced graphics and on-screen hints in a rich way, and collapse sections of code from anywhere. The new text editor will be much closer to what you can do in Microsoft Word.

Finally, we’ve modernized the look and feel of the UI, and enhanced document targeting, which gives developers more flexibility in working with a variety of document configurations.

PressPass: Can you give us an example of how the new UI will help increase developer efficiency?

Zander: One of the things you will be able to do with the new editor is use it to better visualize other types of data in the system, like profiling data or cyclomatic complexity. In addition, you will be able to add action areas into your text file to create new kinds of functionality. Say you want to be able to look up historical information, such as who wrote a particular piece of code. The previous editor would have required a lot of graphics code. You can now do it in a much more efficient way, which ultimately leads to more informed, data-driven development.

One of the things that developers really wanted was inclusion of multi-monitor support. So, in the new UI you can actually drag your source code window onto a second monitor and use that extra screen real estate.

The productivity benefits of the new UI are derived from a combination of how it looks and feels and new utilitarian features. These benefits will ultimately lead to a more enjoyable and efficient experience for the developer.

PressPass: Turning to your other announcement today, the partnership with Quest Software, can you explain why it is important for developers?

Zander: The bottom line is that we understand our customers are working in heterogeneous environments. With this agreement, we’ll be able to offer the same capabilities now available to developers working with SQL Server or DB2 to those working with Oracle, so you’ll be able to use Visual Studio 2010 with any of the three most popular databases.

With Quest Software’s Database Schema Provider (DSP) plug-in, Oracle developers will now be provided with the tools to help them design their database schemas, PL SQL Code, stored procedures and triggers, and to do offline design, development, version control and change management for Oracle databases via Visual Studio 2010.

The Quest plug-in will join hundreds of other third-party extensions now available for Visual Studio. A list can be found at http://www.visualstudiogallery.com/.

PressPass: Any final words for the development community?

Zander: Just that we’re listening to them and we understand what they’re going through these days. They face the obvious pressure to do more with less; the speed at which business operates has not slowed down and the demands on developers are more intense than ever.

When I talk to developers, I hear many of the same questions come up again and again. Things like, “How do I stay up to speed on all of the latest trends when I have so little time?”; “How do I make sure my skills are always in demand?”; “How do I ensure that my team can collaborate easily and quickly when working on tight timelines?”; and “What can I do to keep down the cost of software development by fixing bugs earlier and easily reusing code assets?”

With continued innovations to Visual Studio 2008 and new enhancements to Visual Studio 2010, we hope we’re helping developers address these questions and move farther along the efficiency continuum. We talk about five areas of focus for Visual Studio 2010 — riding the next-generation platform wave, inspiring developer delight, building breakthrough applications, democratizing ALM and enabling emerging trends — these areas embody our core commitments to developers to deliver a more connected, quality development experience.

I would encourage developers who want to continue this dialog to visit my blog, http://blogs.msdn.com/jasonz/.