The saying above probably fits developers the most. More so if one happens to be a Microsoft technology developer, spending his day in and out of Visual Studio – the ultimate development experience (no offence intended to the Notepad developer). I am almost always amazed by the insane complexity that Visual Studio abstracts away from a developer, presenting it in a visually elegant and magnificent way. Before you even think of disagreeing, think of the top 3 features of the Visual Studio code editor according to you and try integrating it on a Rich Text Box in the language of your choice.
- Service Pack 1 – Looking beyond the bug fixes: Gone are the days when Visual Studio Service Packs were a means to provide bugs and stability fixes. The trend in general has shifted to providing users with considerable feature additions, providing a sense of fulfillment and extended satisfaction to the developer community in general. Entity Framework was included as part of the Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1. With Visual Studio 2010 too, apart from the huge number of bug fixes and stability enhancements to the core editor, several new features were added:
- Help Viewer 1.1 – A stand-alone application for viewing locally installed help documentation.
- Silverlight 4 – Pre installed support for Silverlight 4 with designer and project system support.
- Silverlight Profiling – Performance Wizard for Silverlight allows profiling of Silverlight applications which were cumbersome, to say the least in Visual Studio 2008.
- SQL Server CE 4 – Support for managing Microsoft SQL Server Compact 4.0 databases (SDF) added to Solution and Server explorer.
- HTML5 and CSS3 – Support for HTML5 and CSS3 in the html editor.
- IIS Express support – Visual Studio 2010 SP1 enables you to use the Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.5 Express as the local hosting server for the website and Web Application Projects. Scott Guthrie’s introductory blog post about IIS Express explains distinctively how you can leverage local IIS right from your development box.
A complete description of the Service Pack 1 can be found here.
- Extend to conquer: Visual Studio 2010 not only sports a brand new managed code editor but it also includes a managed MEF based Extension Manager that lets you customize almost everything that comes by default with Visual Studio, including the Start Page. The following are few extensions that you wouldn’t regret installing:
- Productivity Power Tools (Microsoft): By far the best (free) extension to Visual Studio 2010, developed by Microsoft, Productivity Power Tools does what its name implies, improve, rather boost the overall productivity of the IDE. A really slick looking Find box, a vibrant Solution Navigator and middle click scroll support, are some of the features that hooked me up instantly. More information and download can be found here.
- Visual Studio Color Theme Editor: Customize the Visual Studio 2010 color palette for menus, toolbars, tabs, title bars and more. It comes in with predefined themes to choose from and allows you to customize the palettes or create new themes. Check out the Visual Studio blog post or download the extension here.
The Visual Studio Gallery has enormous number of extensions (quite a few of them are free) already listed for you to try out. Go ahead. Customize, extend Visual Studio. Super charge it.
Visual Studio – It amazes me. First time, every time!