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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

Reviewing the eWeek VS2005 Review

Peter Coffee just reviewed Visual Studio 2005 in eWeek: Visual Studio 2005: Bright Lights and Shadows.

This article seems less a review and more a warning to developers to think hard about adopting the Microsoft development tools. The article is not exactly anti-Microsoft. Mr. Coffee has a good point when he says that the developer gets great productivity gains at the cost of adopting the entire Microsoft strategy; however, is this any different from the other major integrated environments?

In a related interview on AttentionTech (see Coffee Talk), Mr. Coffee points out that in their labs, they cannot test across a wide enough range of scenarios to verify stability issues reported by the user community. As a result, he cannot answer questions regarding the stability of VS 2005 and the greater question: was it ready to be released? While I accept this as a limitation, I do wonder what it means for the validity of the review. How was time spent in the lab?

Refactoring versus 400Mb files
For example, the review mentions that VS 2005 finally supports refactoring. It is a real productivity benefit for developers and is important for people evaluating the platform. This topic gets just a paragraph. Does it work well? The review doesn’t say. My experience is that it does not (as I write this post, I am also manually propagating a refactoring change across 15 different VS2005 projects).

Iimmediately preceding the re-factoring paragraph are three paragraphs about why developers shouldn’t expect a single IDE to do everything for them. The shining example here is that VS 2005 cannot open a 400Mb text file. It turns out that none of the major IDEs support files of the size. Is this a more useful test for a review than seeing how well refactoring works? I don’t think so.

About 20% of the article is devoted to issues for VB6 developers. Isn’t this old news? I can completely understand why the VB6 community feels slighted by Microsoft; however, the greater good for the development platform built upon a common framework has been proven. VB6 developers were always treated as second class citizens in terms of both development tools and resulting capabilities. While this is still the case for VB6, VB.NET developers don’t face this hurdle. This could not have (reasonably) been done without changes to the VB6 language. VB developers are second-class citizens no longer.

I recommend the interview AttentionTech interview (see Coffee Talk). He discusses his review as well as the greater Microsoft strategy regarding integration of VS 2005 and SQL Server touching on the future with .NET 3.0 and LINQ. He does a good job of explaining this strategy as well as the value of these products for developers.

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