Visual Studio 11 [Beta] – first impressions…

There’s been much hype…yes, much hype about the next install of Visual Studio. Every man and his dog has been complaining about the colours but from the development IDE that’s probably not the most important aspect. I’d would much rather see a 64-bit version available, but that’s another story altogether.

First off, install experience…

The download was 1.7Gb for the Ultimate edition and took me about 30-35mins on my home ADSL2+ (via Bigpond) so that alone was a huge improvement over last time we saw a release of Visual Studio. Back then, the download took me more than 24hrs (probably due to the lack of bandwidth MSFT had available).

The install was extremely easy – yes, this is a beta and things may change – however since I downloaded the Ultimate edition it should pretty much have everything enabled…

download .iso and right-click (Windows 8 Consumer Preview FINALLY has a native ISO mount capability) ->> mount.

Or you could alternatively use the ribbon above after you’ve clicked on the .iso file.

Then it’s just a matter of starting the installer..


It becomes pretty obvious that there’s a new design in town – gone is the sluggish and drab looking “Windows Classic” look that all previous installers have had. That the colours just so happens to be my favourite colours does help too 🙂 And it fits my desktop background and desktop theme perfectly too 🙂


One of the things that I like is attention to detail – the little “pellet animation” that I’ve personally come to associate with the Metro design (it’s obvious all over Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8) is a nice touch in the installer. That aside, the installation went smoothly and without a hitch (hang on, this is a beta release..why didn’t I have to try to install at least twice and add some obscure KB/Patch?? that’s not right!).

Just another quick detail – I love the finishing touch of the name that the final process has -> “ultimate_finalizer”…anyways, as can be seen below here, it was a success (if there was any doubt that is).

Once the choice of default development environment (choose C# Development Environment of course) the first thing that does indeed strike you is the UI. At first the difference was a bit distracting – probably because I wanted to soak in everything at once. I am a geek after all. But then familiarity settled in again. Much of what i’m used to seeing was there (for new features of VS11 I suggest you read through this MSDN article)

The look and feel is much less distracting than what it used to be. I’m not an UI expert but the look really does ring a bell with me very pleasantly. Content is master. A smooth grey theme is seen across the whole GUI, with very few distractions such as bright colours, taking focus away from what should be on every developers mind – productivity.

As you can see, the grey tones and the blue highlights are very soft. The contrast between sections, colours and context is really effective (again, does it follow a tried and tested/bested design paradigm? do I care? no). I spend a huge amount of time in front of a monitor each day, and I really hate having something stress my eyes and put a strain on my concentration.

Last night I spent a good 3 hours writing some code and getting used to Visual Studio 11. And even though this was in my preferred environment (eg. at home, comfortably in my own office) I didn’t come away with any kinks and I just about as productive as normal.

Enough of the colours (or lack thereof) though..

I noticed that there’s quite a few extensions shipped OOTB with this beta – they may not be shipped when it goes into production, but in all honesty I don’t see why the teams should bother removing any of them.

  • ASP.Net MVC 3 template packages
  • ASP.Net MVC 4 template packages
  • ASP.Net Web Pages 2 template packages
  • ASP.Net Web Pages template packages
  • ASP.Net WebForms template packages
  • Concurrency Visualizer
  • IntelliTrace
  • Nuget Packet Manager
  • PreEmptive Analytics Aggregator Visualizer
  • Visual Studio PerfWatson
  • VsGraphicsDebuggerPkg
  • Web Tooling Extensions

I’m particularly pleased to see Nuget Packet Manager be shipped OOTB.

Secondly – another aspect that I’ve never really understood not being included straight away – Team Foundation Server support is now also OOTB. Looks like it’ll be there from the get go as well. And it works just fine with TFS 2010.

Tried to connect to LIDNUG’s instance on and it worked a treat. One other thing, which I admittedly haven’t paid attention to in VS2010, was this little tid bit.

Yeps, in the lower right corner of the “Start Page” there’s an option set available. the one which surprised me was “Close page after project load” which is checked by default. No need to clutter your project screens with the start page. Excellent.

One of the applications that I’ve been using quite frequently of late is Visual Studio LightSwitch. Which also seems to be tagged into the Ultimate version of Visual Studio 11.

Now getting started in Visual Studio has frequently been a chore – especially the “New Project” dialogue, so I was keen to see how fast it loaded. And it was lightning fast to be honest. Half expected it to take yonks to load, but nopes, came up straight away.

Anyways, it’s time to crunch some code – will blog another one once I’ve played around with it some more. All in all, a definite improvement.