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What's New in Visual Studio .NET "Whidbey"

  • October 27, 2003
  • By Bradley L. Jones
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Get It Your Way

It is often the little things that can be most annoying or the most talked about. For example, how code should be formatted can quickly become a debate at the religious level.

Whidbey will allow you to set options for how your code will be formatted. These will be set initially to the .NET coding guidelines; however, you will be able to change these to reflect what you want. Your changes can be applied to the file, project, or solution level. Additionally, you can share your settings with others. While you can make some customizations in the current version of Visual Studio .NET, Whidbey offers a preview window and more options.

Unix and Visual Studio .NET in the Same Sentence

Features such as the ability to save and load profiles for Visual Studio are also included. Even a better System window is included. What may surprise you is that within Whidbey you will find a Unix command window with support for things such as OpenMP and Pthreads. Interesting! Yes, a Unix command window within Visual Studio .NET.

The Visual Studio Whidbey Languages

The changes in the IDE are great, but many people are more interested in changes occurring within the different programming languages. As mentioned earlier, each programming language is being developed with its own focus. As such, within Whidbey, changes in one language may not be occurring in others. Each languages does, however, seem to have a few big changes.

Changes in Visual C# .NET

Visual C# is growing to be one of the more popular languages within Visual Studio. With Whidbey, a number of additional features have been added to Microsoft's implementation of the C# language. Many of these changes have already been discussed publicly as well as here on Developer.com. The key additions are:

  • generics
  • partial types
  • anonymous methods
  • iterators

A generic is a code template that can be applied to use the same code repeatedly; however, each time the generic is used, it can be customized dynamically for different data types without the need to rewrite any of the internal code. To learn more about generics, check out the article What Are C# Generics?, here on Developer.com.

Partial types is a simple concept that that makes it easier to write programs that stretch across multiple files. More specifically, partial types allow a single class to be created across more than one file. When the listings are compiled, the files are combined together.

There are a number of benefits to be gained by using partial types. This includes the ability to create or use code generators that keep the generated code independent of your customizations, the ability to have multiple developers working on different portions of the same class, and more. For more on partial types, check out the article What Are Partial Types in C#?, here on Developer.com.

Iterators are a third addition to Microsoft's version of the C# language. An iterator enables you to use an index on an object to obtain values stored within the object. In essence, this enables you to treat an object like an array. For more on iterators, see the article Using Indexers in C#, here on Developer.com.

The remaining new construct in C# is Anonymous methods. An anonymous method is code that is tied to a delegate. Rather than including this code in a separate method, however, it is included as a part of the delegate declaration. For example, the following code snippet is an anonymous function tied to the button.Click event: This would code within a Form declaration.

   ...   myButton.Click += new EventHandler(sender, e)   {         MessageBox.Show("What function is being executed?");   };   ...

While the new features in C# are not a part of the current official C# standards, they are being considered for the next release of the language standard.

Changes in Visual Basic .NET

Visual Basic .NET also has a number of changes. This includes the use of generics and partial types as were added to Visual C# .NET. Visual Basic .NET will not have iterators or anonymous methods included, this once again indicating that all languages are not the same in .NET.

Visual Basic .NET also will receive a few other changes. According to Ari Bixhorn, one of the most requested features for Visual Basic has been operator overloading. With the next release, this request has been filled. Also added are the addition of unsigned data types and the addition of XML code documentation.

The XML code documentation in Visual Basic will work similarly to how it works in C#. Lines marked as document comments can be automatically gleaned by the compiler and formed into XML documentation for the project.





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