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Inside Visual Studio 2010

Microsoft is released Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2. Find out key features of Microsoft's next-generation development environment, and learn key features of the Framework, Visual Basic, and C#.

In October 2009, Microsoft released Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2. It also announced that the official release of its flagship development tool will follow in the first half of 2010. The latest version of Visual Studio sports a wide-ranging assortment of new features. If you haven't begun to look at all it offers yet, you have a lot to look forward to—and just as much to learn! This article will help you get under way by providing a short summary of key features of Microsoft's next-generation development environment, walking you through key features of the Framework, Visual Basic, and C#. Each new feature cited also includes a link that allows you to find more information about that feature.

What's new in .NET Framework 4
At the heart of the language features in Visual Studio is the latest version of the .NET Framework, version 4. Among the most touted new features is a change to how .NET handles writing code for parallel computing-relating tasks. Specifically, .NET Framework 4 promises a simplified programming model for writing multithreaded and asynchronous code. This is especially important in today's computing environment, where new machines that feature less than dual processors (apart from netbooks) are becoming increasingly rare.

Other features new to .NET Framework 4 include a new garbage collection engine; a new System.Diagnostics.Contracts namespace that enables you to express coding assumptions in a language-neutral way; a new dynamic language runtime (DLR) environment that adds a set of services for working with dynamic languages in the CLR; support for memory-mapped files and 64-bit operating systems and processes; an enhanced security model; and many more related to networking, data, client and Web development, communications and workflow, and more.

The languages
You can also find many new language features in the core set of languages that make up Visual Studio, especially in C# and VB, as well as a brand new language created explicitly to facilitate functional programming in .NET, F#. As with the .NET Framework, these languages include far more features and capabilities than can be touched on in this short introductory piece. However, you will find a list of new features that highlight some of the more interesting new features, as well as links to where you can more about these languages.

What's new in VB 2010
Let's drill down on the .NET language that Microsoft calls its most widely used first. The latest version of Visual Basic introduces (at last!) multiline lambda statements (This feature was introduced in C# in VS 2008, and many VB developers lamented its exclusion in that version. Another interesting feature: implicit line continuation. This feature enables you to omit the underscore line continuation character in many circumstances when your lines spill over their preferred or preset limits. Note that you do face limitations on this ability; you can learn more about statements in VB 2010 here.

Other features build on the historic ease-of-use of the language, reducing the amount of code you must create. For example, collection initializers let you create a collection and populate it with an initial set of values using abbreviated syntax; while auto-implemented properties let you specify a class property without writing a Get and Set property (Be sure to check out other new features in VS 2010).

What's new in C# 2010
C# also gets a slew of new features. Among the more controversial features: C# 2010 introduces dynamic support, which provides support for late binding to dynamic types. This feature promises simplified access to COM and dynamic APIs, among other uses.

Other features introduced in C# include the ability to access Office Automation APIs; new command-line options, such as the ability to specify that you want to use particular to a specific version of C# (VB 2010 has a similar feature); and a new IDE feature called Call Hierarchy feature that enables you to jump to particular sections of your code more easily.

C# and Visual Basic both feature type equivalence support and support for contravariance and covariance.

What's next
This article provides a quick and dirty summary of the new features in VS 2010, including new features in the .NET Framework and in its core languages, VB and C#. Of course, there is much more to Microsoft's development story. This article only brushes on C++ and F#; doesn't address the new computing paradigm presented by the cloud and Azure computing; doesn't cover the various SKUs of the next version of VS 2010; nor does it touch on Web development specifically, whether in the form of ASP.NET, Ajax, or Silverlight. Look for more information on all the topics and more in the near future on.

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