Visual Studio 2005, initial look – part 1

Well, for the first technical post on this blog i”ll start simple.

Most developers who has the interest of upgrading to Visual Studio 2005 will be slightly surprised the first time they open it up.

First difference is how the “Start Page” looks like. Per default it has a much smoother look than the old “Start Page” from Visual Studio 2003 – it also gives you a lot more information straight away compared to the old one.

Visual Studio 2005 – Start Page

This page is split up into four (4) sections:

  1. Recent Projects
  2. Getting Started
  3. Visual Studio Headlines
  4. MSDN

Recent Projects includes a list of the last projects you”ve worked on – no different from VS2003 really, except maybe four (4) initial links a the bottom of that section. There you”ll find options for opening a project (which obviously you don”t have listed in the list above), opening a web site, creating a new project and creating a new web site. Now why is there such a distinction between a project and a web site in VS2005? The way “Web site” projects are handled in VS2005 is quite a lot different than it was in the olden days, where you could litterally add a web project to any solution you had running – in VS2005 there”s quite a different approach to this which i”ll be delving into a bit deeper later on (meaning, next post in this series).

Getting Started contains links to relevant information for your setup (you would have been asked for your development environment preferences when you first started up VS2005, so in my case it would show relevant information about Visual C# primarily). I can rest easy if i recomment a brief look at those links before you get into things (yes i know, RTFM isn”t as popular as it used to be).

Visual Studio Headlines doesn”t seem to change much – i”ve had mine say the same for the last 3-4 months. basically just “Join the Research Panel” which is an external link to the Research Panel (note, none of the links you click will actually open your browser, but will open a new tab and display it in there – quite handy for those with only one monitor). Now i can recommend clicking it – last time i ended up << here, which was quite amusing in a geekish/nerdish sorta way.

MSDN contains articles and links to quite a lot of good stuff – hell,that”s where i found .NET Rocks first time around. It”s updated automatically from the interweb so don”t just skip it each time you start up VS2005. I find quite a lot of interesting news there and it also keeps me informed (and up-to-date) on some of the newer developments in the community. Again,like Getting Started, this section is context sensitive (at least it appears to be since it keeps having info there that”s relevant to me in terms of my settings).

Now, without getting caught up with the eye-candy of VS2005, i”ll go into a few other features which impressed me. We all know how “Help” isn”t really the best tool MS has invented for both their OS and sometimes also other applications. But with VS2005 it”s really gone beyond the next generation. You can find one of the best newbie features approximately here:

Where do i find “How Do I”?

Clicking on this button (or CTRL+F,H) will at first bring up this question/settings box:

Where Do I “want to find” help?

Basically it just want to know where to look first – which is very handy since not everybody is blessed with broadband and it would be anormously annoying for somebody who”s installed MSDN and sees VS2005 run off online each time you”re looking for help.

Anyways, once we”re over that we”ll get another window opening (again, context sensitive to your settings) and it”ll give you a nice bit list, including basic information such as “what is the interweb” and “how to use C#”..ok, maybe not the first one, but at least the second one. This window is actually just a browser, allowing you to cycle through information in a indexed manner – but it does allow you to browse in a tabbed format, which is quite handy.

So How Do I Really Start?”

Anyways – that should do us for a start. Visual Studio 2005 has a lot of new functionalities which I believe both beginners as well as the old dogs can get some serious use out of.