The release of Visual Studio 2008 and the .NET Framework 3.5 this past Monday has created a considerable buzz in the .NET community. With language enhancements such as LINQ (Language Integrated Query) and lambda expressions as well as a plethora of refinements to the IDE itself there are a lot of new tools available at our disposal now. I was very eager to get acquainted with these new tools so I installed a copy of Team Edition and spent almost every free moment this week familiarizing myself with them. Here are some of my initial impressions.
1) LINQ To SQL Classes
I work with a lot of applications that depend heavily on a backend database, so I've coded my fair share of business logic layers which can be quite tedious. LINQ To SQL Classes take a lot of the grunt work out of that process by providing a convenient visual designer that performs automatic object-relational mapping. All you have to do is drag a table or stored procedure from the Server Explorer to the design window and the designer automatically creates a strongly-typed object or method that is ready for use in your application.
2) Intellisense Enhancements
There were a couple of really nice usability enhancements to Intellisense in Visual Studio 2008. Now, as you type, the Intellisense list automatically filters the list down based on what you've entered in so far. For instance, if you have entered "MyObject.ToS" the list would be filtered to only show the items that start with "ToS", which does a nice job of speeding things up. The other enhancement addresses the issue that many people had with previous versions of Visual Studio and the way that the Intellisense list would often obscure chunks of your code, forcing you to close the window if you had to check something that was underneath it. Now you just have to hit "Ctrl" while the list is open and it will become semi-transparant, allowing you to see the code underneath.
3) Improved IDE Performance
Not a "feature", necessarily, but a welcome improvement to Visual Studio. You'll notice this as soon as you load the environment for the first time and discover how quickly the environment loads. The performance improvements don't stop there either, as the IDE is a lot faster and responsive throughout.
Stay tuned for Part Two where I'll go in to some more features of LINQ as well as some of the language upgrades given to Visual Basic.