After 15 years of Visual Studio, Microsoft releases a new version of its core development product, Visual Studio 2012. The external factors have a significant impact on the new product which focuses on some key elements such as modernism, simplicity and ecosystem.In the next chapters, we will examine the new functionalities and key elements of this latest version, the most important upgrade yet.
Microsoft no longer considers Visual Studio just a tool used by developers ; VS 2012 now plays a key role in the ecosystem of Microsoft development. All the important functionalities can be implemented here:
- Application lifecycle management (ALM): agile processes, stakeholder participation, request processing
- Application modeling: uml diagrams, dependency graphs
- ALM processes for the entire team:
- Manual or automated testing tools (Microsoft Test Manager)
- Performance follow-up tools
- Project architecture tools
- Refactoring and code review tools
- Project status reporting tools
As far as the supported platforms are concerned, VS 2012 provides support from the very start for:
- Windows 8
- Sql server 2012
- Office 365 (cloud)
Windows 8 – Windows RT
The most important upgrade concerns the Windows 8 application support (Windows RT). It is also the most controversial feature and it has polarized the entire .net community. Some people love it, others hate it. To help present the views of the community, we have put together this list of pros and consPro:
- Modern Interface
- Touchscreen or keyboard
- The same application on the tablet or on the PC monitor
- Higher production speed
- 90% similarity to Windows Phone 8, the mobile version
- Using the standard Windows applications (office, visual studio) is in some special cases just a bonus
- Windows seems to be less consistent
- It generates an artificial mixture between two worlds (mobile and PC)
- The new interface system does not offer the same functionality as iOs or even Android
Only time will decide on this debate.Visual Studio provides more than the coding environment for these applications. The entire creation process is customized from the design until the final delivery stage to the Windows Store.At the framework level, Windows RT uses a subset of the .net framework 4.5 to ensure the execution on any type of device. To create Windows RT applications, Microsoft provides 2 main directions:
- .Net : c# or vb.net. A system with a design similar to WPF or Silverlight
As far as the .Net version is concerned, the differences from WPF are quite significant (asynchronous execution for the entire library, focus on security and special access to the resources). It is not very easy for a .net developer to work directly on the platform, good training sessions are required.
Along with Visual Studio 2012 we also have .net framework 4.5. It includes updates to the version 4.0 and provides a collection of libraries (as 3.0 or 3.5 have done on .net 2.0). Here are some updates worth remembering:
- JIT compilation with a multiprocessor support. In other words -> faster application start-up on a modern system
- Portable Class Library: project for creating assemblies that can be used on all the .net platforms: Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Phone 7/8, Silverlight and Xbox 360.
- In most cases, the framework 4.5 installation process does not require a system restart
- The garbage collection process can now be performed in parallel
- A new asynchronous version for processing the files based on the c# and vb additions
- Change in performance for Task Parallel Library and introduction of a dataflow processing library (TPL Dataflow). It is ideal for producer/consumer processing scenarios.
- A new library for the consumers of HTTP services. HTTP is no longer used just for browsing or complex web services.
- WebSocket provides a bi-directional communication channel between 2 HTTP clients. It is actually a “TCP” communication on HTTP.
As usual, each Visual Studio version improves the web frameworks. There are also changes regarding the Visual Studio configuration:
- The introduction of IIS Express as a standard local deployment tool for web applications. IIS Express is much closer to the older Asp.net Development Server
- The AntiXSS library is used by default to encode user input.
Asp.net Web FormsWeb Forms, Microsoft’s oldest websites, continue their development to modern standards. They also take over elements used by Asp.net MVC. Here are a few changes we consider important:
- The introduction of Model Binders (taken from asp.net mvc) to connect the components with the user input
- The effort to eliminate the compilation issues in the aspx pages (strongly typed data associations instead of the permanent features)
- The extended support for html 5/css 3
- The direct support for CDN – Content Distribution Network when using the ScriptManager
- The direct support for Microsoft Azure in data-oriented components
With every new version of the web forms, we are getting closer to the Asp.net MVC concepts. Before the current mvc, the web forms had remained relatively constant over a long period of time.Asp.net MVCAsp.net MVC is now the star of the .net web development. The version 4.0 has brought significant changes.
- Asp.net Web API
- Introduction of the new system for the asynchronous methods of controllers
- New version of the Razor language. Performance optimization and introduction of “~”
The WebAPI is the most important development track. It is a mixture of WCF and Asp.net MVC to provide Microsoft’s best REST platform.Visual Studio LightSwitchLightSwitch is a new development tool for quickly creating web or desktop line-of-business applications by focusing on the IDE and not the code.
VS 2012 replaces Sql Server 2008 Express with SQL Server Express LocalDB. LocalDB is a very light version of Sql Server. The advantage of Sql Server 2008 Express over the LocalDB is that the latter requires minimal configuration. Thus, it can be distributed with an application without the specific request to install Sql Server 2008 express.A new management tool has been introduced for SQl Server, SQL Server Object Explore. The tool is similar to the Management Studio in terms of look and functionality.Starting with VS 2012, Entity Framework goes the way of Asp.net MVC. The EF team will develop new versions independently of Visual Studio. The current version EF 5.0 provides useful elements:
- The “code first” operating mode is now finalized and well integrated with Visual Studio
- EF provides direct support for database script versioning
- The spatial data of Sql Server 2008 have direct support in the framework
- EF is well integrated with LocalDB. The database can be created in automatic mode and database evolution scripts can be executed in VS 2012
Many other libraries have been upgraded in .net 4.5:
- WPF can directly use the Office 2010 GUI “ribbon” toolbar. There has also been an upgrade regarding the management of large databases.
- The Visual Studio WPF GUI has also been updated (performance problems with the older versions). Also, a new specialized state machine workflow has been introduced..
- It has always been difficult to deal with the WCF configuration and its complexity. Version 4.5 continues the configuration changes initiated by .net 4.0. WCF can also communicate with the new WebSocket library. “Code first” is also available for WCF operations.