Visual Studio 2012 Express Products Include Desktop Support

Visual Studio 2012 is still a work in progress, but many developers learn about the latest version of Visual Studio using the Express Edition because it’s a free download. You can use the Express Edition to learn a new language, get a basic idea of Visual Studio functionality, or simply to play around. The Express Edition is also lightweight, which makes it possible to use with an older machine that might not support one of the other editions. So, it was with regret that I read that the Express Edition was only going to support Metro applications. Obviously, a lot of other people regretted Microsoft’s decision because there has been quite an outcry about the lack of support for desktop and console applications in the Express Edition. Fortunately, Microsoft has heard developers and according to Mary Jo Foley, has added desktop support back in.

Microsoft is still trying to push its Metro agenda, however. The desktop and console application support come in a separate product named Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop. This product won’t ship at the same time as the other products—it’ll ship later. I wasn’t able to find out how much later, but there is going to be a delay. The product is mentioned at the bottom of the page on the Visual Studio Express 2012 products site, but when you click the link to download it, you’ll find it missing. The June 8th blog post doesn’t mention a delivery date either.

There are a lot of new features in Visual Studio 2012 and its associated .NET Framework 4.5. If you haven’t tried these features, an Express Edition product could be precisely what you need for experimentation. Of course, you can also obtain a beta version of Microsoft top of the line Visual Studio 2012 Ultimate for experimentation purposes for the time being as well, but it does have some hefty system requirements.

Have you had a chance to look at the new version of Visual Studio? Let me know your thoughts about it at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.

 

Visual Studio 11 Updates

Microsoft plans to release the next update for Windows 8 during the first week in June. Most developers are also looking forward to an update of Visual Studio 11 about the same time. Visual Studio 11 contains a number of modest, but important, feature updates. As a result, I’ve been reading everything I can find on these new features and doing a little testing myself. So far, I haven’t seen much mention of the new debugging features or the new/updated tools provided with the new release. These changes are important nonetheless.

Of course, the most important of these updates is the ability to create Metro applications. Visual Studio 11 provides a complete set of templates you can use to create Metro applications using a combination of HTML5 and JavaScript. From the confusing assortment of posts that I’ve read, I’m not really clear as to whether the main download site provides you with a copy of Visual Studio 11 that includes full support for developing Metro applications. It turns out that you need the SDK in order to build these applications. In order to play with Metro applications, I downloaded the Visual Studio 11 beta from the Metro-style applications site, which definitely includes the SDK. This download only installs on a Windows 8 system. The Metro-style applications site also includes a number of other helpful downloads.

The feature that seems to be garnering the most attention though is the appearance of the new IDE. Many developers find the new IDE incredibly depressing to use. According to a number of sources, the beta team has heard the pleas of testers and decided to do something about it. Essentially, the changes are limited to a difference in colors. The updated IDE will be lighter gray and use some brighter colors in the icons. Of course, having a tool that’s fun, or at least interesting, to use is a requirement. No one wants to work with a depressingly dark gray tool all day. Still, I have to wonder why this particular feature is receiving so much press.

Of the features I’ve tried so far, I’m finding the C++ language additions the most tempting. For example, the IDE now makes it a lot easier to see various C++ elements through the use of color coding. A feature called Reference Highlighting is also interesting because it makes it easy to move between instances of a keyword within a source code file with greater ease. There is also built-in support now for the C++ 11 specification version of the Standard Template Library (STL). If you want, you can even build Metro-style applications using C++. The IDE also makes it a whole lot easier to work with code snippets. These new additions do make the IDE faster and more efficient, but also add complexity. Readers of C++ All-In-One Desk Reference For Dummies will be happy to know that I’ll continue using the GNU C++ compiler for the reasons stated in my Choosing the GNU C++ Compiler post.

Because I know I’ll eventually need to provide some level of Metro application support, I have been playing around with the Metro functionality. As part of my reading, I checked out the information on the Metro-Style Design Applications site. From a developer perspective, there are some pros and cons about these new requirements. For example, some developers see them as actually limiting application functionality and making applications less useful. I’m sure that what will happen is that developers will find new ways of adding functionality to applications that fit within the Microsoft guidelines and still offer a great application experience. Undoubtedly, Microsoft will also be tweaking those Metro design documents.

Have you done anything with Visual Studio 11? If so, let me know about the features you like best and which features you wish Microsoft would change. One of the most important questions for me is whether you see yourself using Visual Studio 11 for serious application development anytime soon. Knowing these answers will help me create better blog posts for you in the future. Contact me at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.