A second beta version of Visual Studio 2008 is due for release later this summer. This beta will feature the Visual Studio Shell, which will allow developers to create and distribute custom tools built on top of Visual Studio.
In essence, Visual Studio Shell is the IDE stripped down to its bare framework, said Joe Marini, group manager of VS Industry Partners (VSIP) at Microsoft. "For some time now our partners and developers have been asking for this," he added.
The shell, which will be available as a free download, offers two flavors of Visual Studio compatibility.
In integrated mode, developers and third-party software makers can use the shell much as they would a Visual Studio plug-in today.
On the other hand, in Isolated mode, the Visual Studio Shell can take on the appearance and branding favored by the developer or software maker. If a Visual Studio instance is already running, the Isolated mode version will run separately.
"You can still build your Visual Studio plug in like you could before, but now you can build it independently and it can run independently," said Marini.
Visual Studio Shell is part of the first Visual Studio 2008 SDK, which will be released this summer as part of Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2. (The company also announced at Tech Ed that Visual Studio Orcas is now Visual Studio 2008 but will nonetheless be released by the end of 2007.)
Microsoft's SDKs, or Software Development Kits, are targeted at developers who, by and large, build Visual Studio plug-ins. This group consists mainly of ISVs but also includes enterprise, academic and shared-source developers. The fourth and final SDK for Visual Studio 2005 came out earlier this year.
Other Tech Ed 2007 developments
Also at Tech Ed, Microsoft announced it had reached a deal with Linux sever-side and desktop Linux distributor Xandros that allows the Linux software company to tell its customers its projects do not infringe Microsoft intellectual property [IP]. The deal is similar to a deal Microsoft earlier forged with Linux vendor Novell. That agreement has continued to create controversy in some parts of the GPL-oriented open-source software community.
As part of the agreement, Xandros will join Microsoft and others to build open source translators that allow interoperability between documents stored in Open XML and Open Document Format. Xandros will ship the translators in upcoming releases of its Xandros Desktop offering.
"Interoperability remains a major concern at major enterprises," Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft, told the TechEd crowd. "Over the last year you have seen Microsoft take a number of steps that really distinguish a new approach." Muglia pointed to deals with Zen and JBoss (now part of RedHat), as well as the deals with Novell and Xandros.
In other Tech Ed news:
- SQL Server 2008, previously code-named SQL Server Katmai, is now available as a Community Technical Preview and can be downloaded from the SQL Server 2008 page.
- Acropolis, a new set of components and tools for developing Windows Presentation Foundation-styled client applications, is also available as a CTP download. The Acropolis download page includes both the tool and component set and a Help document.
- Microsoft has released a Software Development Kit to help developers work with the Open XML file format. This Open XML SDK allows for the programmatic creation of documents, the customization of parts within a document, the customization of document properties, and the inspection of custom XML within documents.
- BizTalk Server 2006 R2 will be released in the third quarter of 2007, Microsoft said. This releases focuses on service-oriented architecture, as it will allow for integration with .NET 3.0, Office 2007 and Windows Vista. There is also support for radio frequency identification, or RFID, and electronic data interchange, or EDI.