Visual Studio .Net (Enterprise Edition)
Reviewed: 15th March 2002
Front of the Box:
to a special review, on a very special piece of
software. As I assume you're all aware, Visual
Basic is a microsoft-owned language (hence only
one version) thats part of the Visual Studio Family
of applications; so when you're 4 year old version
of the best all-round programming language gets
a complete overhall you really need to sit-up
and pay attention!
Visual Studio has been the most fundamental tool
in all our work for a long time now, and has set
itself up as the premier suite of programming
tools (for good reasons), and given the general
importance of programming/programs in the computer
world, Microsoft tend to take the development
of its tools and languages very seriously indeed.
Visual Studio is therefore an absolutely enourmous
piece of software - I wont go into specifics just
yet, but trust me! I'm going to use the following
few pages to cover as much of the new family of
tools as is humanly possible, but it's probably
going to be a good while till progammers around
the world really get to grips with .Net and start
using its full potential.
I go any further, I want to outline the main aim
for this special review: gaming and multimedia.
This website is all about using Visual Basic to
write high performance multimedia applications,
and more specifically, games. This area of computer
programming requires a very specific type of language
and tool - high performance, and optional low-level
access to hardware (for maximum speed). My main
question for this review is going to be: Is
Visual Studio .Net more suitable for this area
of progamming than Visual Studio 6? Do you
really want to or need to upgrade to this new
piece of software? ...
you have probably noticed, I'm reviewing Visual
Studio .Net - NOT Visual Studio 7. However,
to all intents and purposes, they are the same
thing (most files are installed to \Common7 or
\VB7 or \VC7 for example...). So what's with this
new naming system? Well, it's all part of Microsofts
next-generation grand plan.
you're probably aware, over the last few years
there has been a steady move towards more integration
with the internet (just look at the differences
between XP and Win98's internet functionality),
browsing the web, shopping online, communication
via net-servers etc... are all big business and
very common these years. Microsoft wants to provide
the tools for the next stage of this migration,
and they have some very grand plans for the shape
of computer usage within the next few years...
have coined the .Net ("Dot-Net") strategy
for this. In it's most simple sense, it's all
about integrating all computers, all systems (Linux,Mac
and Windows for example) and particularly all
software. It uses the role of the internet server
to play a crucial part in this system - they want
servers to do the grunt work, provide us with
web pages, services and software - and for our
desktop systems to just access these servers.
There is some logic to this - centralization of
such components makes servicing of applications
much easier (version 7.0 to 7.1 requires only
a few changes on a handful of servers rather than
a global upgrade release). If you think about
it, computer games have been working like this
for quite a long time now in the form of game
servers / MMORPG's etc...
this really doesn't seem to be sitting too well
with alot of end-users that I've spoken too, and
I've seen a few heated forum-threads about this:
Do we really want big corporations controlling
everything that we see, do and access? It's a
big question that even I'm unsure about; but if
you want to know more you can do the research
- its too big a topic to cover here.
you may well have guessed, Visual Studio .Net
is the first stage in Microsoft's plan (that we
developers/end-users get to see), for without
.Net compatable software their new strategy isn't
going anywhere! You'd also be correct in guessing
that there is a very heavy emphasis on web/server
side development in this new release. Given the
basic logistics behind server-side provision of
services/software (very expensive to run powerful
servers) the software also seems to be aimed at
corporate-level developer rather than small teams
/ single-programmer development. This isn't highly
surprising, I'm taking an educated guess that
Microsoft makes a heck of a lot more money out
of big companies than it does from small independent
teams. The first hint at this new approach is
the global idea of a "Solution" instead
of good old projects and project groups - it doesn't
make any difference really, but it's just a little
With the Review...
enough ranting about the future, and back to the
present - the Visual Studio .Net review! Due to
the size of this review in comparison to the others
on this website, I've decided to divide it into
several pages. Each one covers a different section,
and they're designed to be read in order, but
you can jump around if you want...
go straight to the next page...
the software, and the aims of this review.
Started With Visual Studio .Net:
The installer, version, prices etc...
IDE: New things in
the Integrated Development Environment, and is
it an improvement?
to Talk the Talk:
Learning the new language (C#) and the changes
to Visual Basic
Studio .Net in the Real World:
Performance and real world capabilities
Summing everything up in a neat way