Here we are back again with an introduction of the new features of the upcoming Visual Studio 2010. Its release has been postponed to the 12th of April, so in the meantime we’ll have to stick to the Beta 2, which is pretty stable already. There are so many improvements that we’ll have to divide it into multiple parts. Let’s dive right in!
1. UI: WPF-Based
The UI is now WPF based, which means a better usability and more extensibility options for us developers. Clearly, introducing VS2010 as a WPF-based application is a big push in the direction of visualization and diagramming. We’ll see later how this can be performed using the new IDE.
The editor, for example, is now WPF-based. Cool, but what does that mean for us? Here are the advantages:
Change font size w/ mouse only, or better: No more Options->Change font size during presentations!
Extension Manager allows easy-to-install-and-use add-ins: Also from online galleries – Single click install and enabling!
Highlighting of related variable/method names (Figure 1)
Figure 1: Highlighting related variable. Note that the highlighter correctly references only the name variable passed as a parameter
You can navigate between the highlighted elements using CTRL + SHIFT and the ARROW keys!
2. Intellisense – Improvements:
Method Matching: When VS2010 brings up the list of available methods (after you typed something), it performs not a simple .StartsWith name comparison, but a .Contains. This leads to the results shown on the next screenshots:
Filtered list is gone: When typing letters, the auto completion list that pops up won’t give you all objects/methods/variables that start with the same letter, but only those who are truly related. Consider Figure 3: We typed IF. In the old version, VS would have brought up not only the items shown in the completion list, but possibly many many more, all starting with I (but not containing or continuing with F). Now the IntelliSense search is narrowed, which makes it a lot easier for the developer to select the correct entry.
Figure 2: Highlighting the related object/variable/method.
Case sensitivity: Another nice feature highlighted in figure 2 is the Pascal-Case typing of the capital letters IF, which brings correctly up our method, since its signature contains both I and F as of the method name. Try typing If (f is lowercase), and you won’t find the IsFasterThan method in the auto completion list anymore.
3. References dialog improvements
Remember the Add References dialog in figure 3?
Figure 3: Add references underwent some perception changes.
First of all, Microsoft realized that most people are using it to reference other projects, so they brought up the Projects tab by default. But that’s not all: We all LOVED to wait 30 seconds for the list of .NET or COM objects to appear, right? Because of that, while we are browsing by default the projects, VS2010 is asynchronously loading the available assemblies already. Saves time and nerves.
4. Search and Navigation
Let’s press CTRL + , anywhere in the editor. The window Navigate To will appear, providing us a very powerful search across the entire solution. The search results are updated as we type. From here, we can navigate directly to the found item. Figure 4 shows the dialog.
Figure 4: The Navigate To dialog is a powerful search and navigation mechanism, providing also essential information about the found items. Big improvement over the VS2008 style’s CTRL+SHIFT+F (and subsequent find results crawling without navigation to the desired item)!
5. Call Hierarchy
Remember the Find All References option in the editor’s context menu? It provided us information about where a method/variable has been used. Tell you what. We have a much more powerful way of doing this now: The Call Hierarchy option (Figure 5).
Figure 5: Context menu for the IsFasterThan method, highlighting the new View Call Hierarchy option.
This is the result: A list of all callers (“Calls To”) and callees (“Calls From”) of IsFasterThan (Figure 6). Every caller/callee can be expanded into its own callers/callees. As of figure 6, e.g. Main. This is a really expressive feature which outperforms Find All References by far. However, a possible drawback might be that you could expand the list to infinity by alternating the caller/callee relationship. Figure 6 shows the resulting
Figure 6: The View Call Hierarchy window, showing callers/callees of IsFasterThan.
6. Project dialog with search and .NET version selection
Figure 7 shows the improved New Project dialog.
Figure 7: The NewProject dialog. Please note the search field in the right upper corner and the .NET framework dropdown list (center), where now also version 4 of the .NET framework is available.
7. Code Snippets
The code snippets are accessible via the Tools menu, or by pressing the shortcut CTRL + K, CTRL + B
Figure 8: The Code Snippets dialog, showing the newly available languages, as well as subcategories in the Code Snippets Manager.
8. Environment settings: Code Optimized
One more newly available feature is a new default environment setting (remember you had to choose which default settings you wanted to use when starting VS2010 for the first time?). There is one newly available feature which will simply allow you to reduce your viewport to only the code when developing (hence removing the designer). If you have already chosen your first-time-startup environment settings: Don’t worry! The next screenshot explain how you can access the new Web Development (Code Optimized) default environment setting. First, choose Tools –> Import and Export Settings.
Figure 9: Import and Export Settings wizard. Choose Reset all settings here. Then you will be prompted whether or not you want to save your current settings. Choose as you wish there. Then proceed.
Figure 10: Default environment settings. Note the Web Development (Code Optimized) option, which is new to VS2010. Choose it and VS will immediately switch to those settings, removing e.g. the designer buttons and providing you with a much more lightweight code editor window. Very handy for developers who want to only focus on the code.
So I’d say this is about it for this time. Of course there are a lot more features which need to be covered.
The next lessons will deal with creating customized startup pages for VS2010, and introduce the new language features and tools of Visual Studio 2010.
In the meantime, enjoy exploring VS’ new capabilities and features, and hang on till the next time!
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