Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Microsoft Visual Studio .NET keeps evolving

Right after my layoff and retirement from my old-school IT job at the end of 2001, computer magazines had plenty of articles like "What's Hot, What's Not." At the time, COBOL was on the NOT list (this was two years after Y2K). That seems to be coming back now, but in the meantime I've looked at all of the other niches around. And the market, since 2000, has indeed fragmented into a mishmash of specific areas, and the nimble professional has to keep up leading edge expertise in some of them.

One of the "HOT" things in early 2002 was supposed to be Visual Studio .NET. I took a course in it with C# (which is a bit simpler and more straightforward that Java because it is strongly typed) at Hennepin County Technical College south of Minneapolis (while still living there). From a class that met once a week for three hours, it was hard to get enough expertise to be marketable. It takes real involvement and building something.

Visual Studio, connecting to ADO (for databases) and ASP (for web development) provides a development platform for complex applications with menus, processes, scripts, behaviors in an object oriented environment. It is comparable, but carries the meta-language skill mentality, to what used to be done on the mainframe with products like Telon.

Here is a link for a .NET Developers blog.

Here is a link for the Visual Studio Development Center for 2005. It offers a Beta version of the 2008 product.

Here is the pricing chart.

Here is the Comparison Chart.
The Express Version is free (takes about 2 hours to download at high speed) but limited in functionality. You can't run ADO and ASP on the same machine in Express. If you pay for the Developer's version, you apparently get a copy of SQL Server with the tools to maintain a database easily (as you can with Access). You then copy the application to a web server enable to run it.

Microsoft MSDN offers such hosting of the .NET Framework, with free introduction, here. Also look at this. Other larger ISPs offer shared or dedicated Windows Server hosting that can run .NET applications.

Microsoft Press offers workbooks in the various languages (like C#, Visual Basic, etc) with sample databases and applications. Most of these will work with the Express version.

Microsoft offers a 26-minute film "Orcas Beta 2" on the new .Net, in which S. Somasager and Scott Guthrie talk about the project management and development issues of the new release (how the checkout process associated with source / module management was tightened by test automation; the also talked about "shell managed code" as simpler than C++ and talked about the paradigm changes in C# 3.0. The film gives a good feel of what it is like to work as a developer in a state-of-the-art software engineering environment. It is more demanding than many people realize.

Here is the link leading to the film. It played only in IE (Mozilla didn't work).

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