How many versions of Visual Studio do I have to maintain ?
The most expensive part of any project is maintaince. You think everything is working well and suddenly you get a phone call and you need to resolve a bug in the application. The trouble is the application was written with an earlier version of the .net framework, for example v1.0 but you using Visual Studio 2005. This means you can open the project but if you compile it using Visual Studio you can only compile against the latest version of the framework which in this case is version 2.0. Which means the small change in the code might end up meaning you also have to distribute the v2 framework. The same problem exists with Visual Studio 2003 which can only compile applications to run on top v1.1 of the .Net framework.
However, in a regulated enviroment such as the pharmaceutical industry a change of the underlying platform i.e from the v1 framework to the v2 framework could result in you having to revalidate and retest the complete application. Of course using the SDK you can use the command line switches to compile for the v1 framework but is this really practical ?
It seems to me that we are storing up problems for the future where in order to maintain old applications I will have to keep various different versions of the Visual Studio IDE and know which version of Visual Studio I need for each application.
Mission critical applications need to run for years and will need maintainence and I am worried that there are going to be problems. It seems if I read correctly that the Sharp Developer IDE can compile against different versions of the framework. Why can't Visual Studio do this ?
Maybe Visual Studio should be distributed in the form of Virtual PC images so it is simple to swap between different versions.