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Visual Studio 2005 SDK 4.0 now available

Microsoft has released its fourth and final SDK for Visual Studio 2005. The focus in this release is to make the SDK easier to use for veterans and newcomers alike.

Microsoft has released its fourth and final SDK (Software Development Kit) for Visual Studio 2005. The focus in...

this release, the company said, is to make the SDK easier to use for veterans and newcomers alike.

Traditionally, the SDK is used by ISVs and other commercial developers for building Visual Studio plug-ins. At last count, according to Joe Marini, director of Microsoft's Visual Studio Industry Partner group, there are more than 1,200 such plug-ins on the market.

However, the company has noticed a recent SDK trend. SDK V3.0, released in September 2006, was downloaded five times as often as V2.0.Moreover, much of that increase was due to an expanded audience -- developers in the enterprise, in the shared-source community and in academia joined the ISVs, said Rob Brigham, group manager, Visual Studio Tool Ecosystem team.

"We've seen a lot of new types of users coming to the SDK," Brigham said, "so we created a series of Quick Starts." These tutorials, as their name suggests, walk developers through processes like creating Visual Studio extensions, adding custom tool support adding custom commands.

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A set of Quick Start tutorials come with the SDK 4.0 package. Future files will be delivered via the second major change to the development kit -- the SDK Browser.

Brigham noted that, in the past, SDKs tended to be static. Developers would install them and play with the tools and samples inside, but to get anything new, they had to wait for the next release.

"The SDK Browser gives users a portal into local content but also to online content, either posted by Microsoft or by the community," Brigham said. "This is kind of a revolutionary step for SDKs and for Microsoft."

Marini agreed: "I think it's one of the coolest things in there."

The third noteworthy addition to the SDK is a duo of productivity enhancements.

The Package Load Analyzer eases the process of debugging Visual Studio extensions. Traditionally, these extensions are created in one instance of Visual Studio but must be run in a second instance. The Package Load Analyzer, on the other hand, integrates a new tool window that provides debugging information in that first instance, Brigham said.

The Toolbox Control Installer provides a set-up procedure for a control. This is ideal for the distribution of controls, whether as an ISV or as an enterprise developer deploying a new tool, Brigham said.

Marini noted that this SDK is the final one Microsoft will release for Visual Studio 2005. "From here forward, we're working on our Orcas SDK," he added. Orcas is the code name for the upcoming version of Visual Studio.

The Visual Studio 2005 SDK V4.0 is available for download here. To use the SDK, developers must have Visual Studio 2005 Service Pack 1 installed.

Additional information on the features in the new SDK can be found in the James Lau blog entry, VS 2005 SDK 4.0 RTM is here.

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