Microsoft Delivers First Public Beta of 'Orcas' and .NET 3.5
Microsoft released Beta 1 of its upcoming IDE and interim framework
today. This next version of Visual Studio, called "Orcas" for now, will
offer developers as many as 200 new features, according to Microsoft.
Orcas is designed to provide a development environment for Microsoft's
new and upcoming platform advances, such as those in the Windows Vista
operating system, 2007 Office System, SQL Server 2005 and Windows
"Longhorn" server. It also adds a wide breadth of tooling for everything
from back-end data connectivity and unit testing to Web development and
user interface (UI) design.
Beta 1 of Orcas will not offer tooling for Silverlight, the recently
branded cross-browser plug-in technology, formerly known as Windows
Presentation Foundation/Everywhere (WPF/E). However, the idea is not off
the table, according to S. "Soma" Somasegar, Microsoft's corporate vice
president, developer division.
"We are thinking about, 'Can we do Silverlight support or not?,' and we
will be able to talk more about it in a few weeks," Somasegar said.
Microsoft's Chief Architect Ray Ozzie and General Manager of the
Development Division Scott Guthrie are expected to discuss the
development strategy for Silverlight at MIX '07, the company's conference for Web developers
and designers, which begins April 30 in Las Vegas.
Some of the most anticipated functionality in Orcas is support for
Language Integration Query (LINQ), which allows developers to query
object, relational and XML data from within their programming languages.
LINQ will initially support Visual Basic and C#. (Early adopters
reported some issues with the LINQ functionality in the March
Orcas also integrates the ADO.NET Entity Framework, which provides new
APIs and tooling designed to support object/relational mapping.
"From a developer standpoint, [LINQ] is a slam dunk," commented Jeffrey
Hammond, analyst at Forrester Research Inc., "because it makes data
access, both structured and unstructured, very easy to put into your
How developers will adapt to LINQ, which requires .NET 3.5, is still an
open question, however.
Orcas integrates AJAX tooling for the ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX server-side
extensions and client-side libraries, which shipped in January. Visual
.NET 3.5 Framework supports AJAX development in Windows Communication
Foundation and ASP.NET 2.0, according to Microsoft.
UI developers and designers can finally utilize the Windows Presentation
Foundation Designer (code-named "Cider) from within Visual Studio. They
also can take advantage of additional support for the Extensible
Application Markup Language (XAML), which is the markup language in
Microsoft's Expression Studio portfolio.
The 2007 Office System, which is built on .NET 3.0, allows developers to
work from a common platform. Orcas integrates Visual Studio Tools for
Office and supports Visual Studio Tools for Applications, the embedded
.NET programming environment released last month.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of Visual Studio "Orcas" is
that it supports multi-targeting, allowing developers to use a single
version of Visual Studio to program against multiple frameworks (.NET
2.0, .NET 3.0 and .NET 3.5).
"This is just so important for development organizations," said Hammond,
"because otherwise you have to line your release schedules up with the
release schedules of Windows."
It is also great for Microsoft going forward, he asserted.
"It really allows them to decouple Visual Studio from the Windows
release train," Hammond said.
MSDN subscribers can download Orcas Beta 1 (Visual Studio Professional
Edition, Visual Studio Team Suite and Visual Studio Team Foundation
Server) here as installation media ISO images.
Kathleen Richards is the editor of RedDevNews.com and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.