New for this release is the Silverlight Add-In for Visual Studio 2008 CTP. This allows developers to use Visual Studio 2008 to create applications for Silverlight v1.0, which has now reached the Release Candidate stage.
Visual Studio 2008 also includes, out of the box, updated versions of ASP.NET AJAX and Visual Studio Tools for Office. It also comes with a Go-Live license, which covers VS 2008, .NET 3.5 and Silverlight 1.0 Release Candidate.
Meanwhile, on July 31 Microsoft released a preview version of the Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 SDK. This release includes some extensibility for Windows Communication Foundation and Windows Presentation Foundation, as well as support for Visual Studio Shell and IronPython.
Scott Guthrie indicated that both VS 2008 and .NET 3.5 are "99% feature complete" as of Beta 2, meaning that any changes made between Beta 2 and the final release version will be minimal. Guthrie's Visual Studio 2008 remarks came in the comment string of a blog post about IronRuby, Microsoft's .NET implementation of the dynamic language Ruby.
The final version of Visual Studio 2008 -- which includes Visual Basic 9.0, C# 3.0 and the .NET Framework 3.5 -- is due for release at the end of this year, though its formal launch will not come until next February, when it joins SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 on stage at an even in Los Angeles.
The announcement of the launch event came earlier this month, and it sparked a bit of confusion about when Visual Studio 2008 would be ready. Both Guthrie, general manager of the .NET developer platform, and Soma Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft's development unit, have reiterated that VS 2008 will be ready by year's end.
Taking a lap around Visual Studio 2008
At last month's Tech Ed 2007 conference, Jay Schmelzer, principal manager for the Visual Basic group at Microsoft, gave a talk introducing developers to Visual Basic 2008. (The entire presentation is online, at the Virtual Tech Ed 2007 site, and despite some Virtual PC difficulties it is worth a look.)
Schmelzer did spend some time on the most notable additions to the IDE, such as LINQ (the Language Integrated Query) and support for the tools of the .NET Framework 3.0 -- Windows Communication Foundation, Windows Presentation Foundation and Windows Workflow Foundation.
A few of the most interesting bits that Schmelzer mentioned are listed below.
- Improved support for load testing, version control and continuous integration in Visual Studio Team System. With the next version of VSTS a long way off, this interim news should placate the large development teams using Visual Studio Team System.
- Multitargeting, which means developers can use Visual Studio 2008 to build applications for .NET 2.0 and .NET 3.0 in addition to .NET 3.5. The aim here is to make the process of migration to the .NET Framework 3.5 "a very smooth process," though, admittedly, trying to go backwards is not so smooth, Schmelzer noted.
- A XAML editor, design surface and navigation support for Windows Presentation Foundation development.