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The Orcas are coming! Visual Studio Orcas, that is

Visual Studio Orcas promises productivity enhancements and a beefed up version of the .NET Framework. This tip reviews what developers can play with now that Orcas is in beta.

Microsoft has made beta versions for the next implementation of Visual Studio -- code named "Orcas," from the Latin term for whale -- available through the Visual Studio Web pages. Orcas extends the Visual Studio environment to embrace Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office System, and adds to its already-formidable arsenal of Web capabilities. It also includes a beta version of the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, which also brings some interesting new features to this mix.

On the Visual Studio side, Orcas offers the following among its cast of additions, enhancements, and improvements:

  • It permits developers to target Windows Vista and .NET Framework 3.0 in their development efforts (for more information on .NET Framework 3.5 see the following paragraph).
  • Visual Studio Tools for Office is completely integrated into the Orcas release, so that developers can customize Office applications (PowerPoint, Outlook, and so forth) to enhance productivity for end-users and ease deployment issues.
  • The Language Integrated Query (LINQ) permits developers to adopt a single, coherent approach to data, with new data design surfaces for data access and pre-built classes for occasionally connected design patterns.
  • More on Visual Studio Orcas
    Visual Studio Orcas reaches beta
    Ten cool Visual Studio Orcas features, part 1

    Ten cool Visual Studio Orcas features, part 2
  • The ASP.NET AJAX programming model, plus other extensions and enhancements, enables more interactive, response, and efficient client-side operation.
  • Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) supports the development life-ycle, along with supporting end-users and administrators for enterprise apps.

For a lot more detail on what all these buzzwords mean, check out the Orcas overview whitepaper in the Visual Studio pages.

When it comes to the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Beta 1, here's some of what you'll find amidst its many features and functions:

  • Extended integration of Language Integrated Query (LINQ) and data awareness
  • Access to ASP.NET AJAX to beef up efficiency, interactivity, and personalization of individual Web experiences inside most major browsers
  • Enhanced support for the Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) including AJjax, JSON, REST, POX, RSS, ATOM and numerous WS-* (Web services) XML standards
  • Complete toolsets for the Windows Workflow Foundation (WF), WCF, and the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) including workflow-enabled services support
  • Additions to the Base Class Library (BCL) have been designed to address common developer feature and function requests

According to the general overview Orcas downloads page, you will not only experience a boost in developer productivity and understanding through this beta, you will also have the opportunity to provide input and feedback on the final release that results from this beta. Check out that link for all the relevant information and to get access to all the pieces and parts to make this stuff work.

Ed Tittel is a writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security. E-mail with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review. Cool tools rule!

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