I'm very pleased to announce that the Beta 2 release of VS 2008 and .NET 3.5 Beta2 is now available for download. You can download the Visual Studio 2008 product here. You can alternatively download the smaller VS 2008 Express Editions here.
VS 2008 and Visual Web Developer 2008 Express can be installed side-by-side with VS 2005. .NET 3.5 Beta2 also includes a go-live license which allows you to build and deploy applications into production.
Very Important: Please read my "Installation Notes" at the bottom of this blog post for a few post-installation steps you must make to ensure everything runs well. One of these steps fixes a side-by-side issue we found with ASP.NET AJAX.
Quick Tour of Some of the New Features for Web Development
Over the last few months I've written several blog posts that discuss some of the new improvements in this release. Below is a quick summary list of several of them that I have already published. This list is by no means exhaustive - there are a lot more things I haven't had a chance to blog about yet (stay tuned for more posts!):
VS 2008 Multi-Targeting Support
VS 2008 enables you to build applications that target multiple versions of the .NET Framework. You can learn more about how this works from my blog post here:
VS 2008 Web Designer and CSS Support
VS 2008 includes a significantly improved HTML web designer. This delivers support for split-view editing, nested master pages, and great CSS integration. Below are two articles I've written that discuss this more:
ASP.NET also has a new <asp:ListView> control that I'll be blogging about in the near future. It delivers very flexible support for data UI scenarios, and allows full customization of the markup emitted. It works nicely with the new CSS support in VS 2008.
I will be doing a blog post in the next few days that talks more about some of the ASP.NET AJAX specific improvements, as well as how to upgrade existing ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 applications to use them.
Language Improvements and LINQ
The new VB and C# compilers in VS 2008 deliver significant improvements to the languages. Both add functional programming concepts that enable you to write cleaner, terser, and more expressive code. These features also enable a new programming model we call LINQ (language integrated query) that makes querying and working with data a first-class programming concept with .NET.
Below are some of the articles I've written that explore these new language features using C#:
Data Access Improvements with LINQ to SQL
LINQ to SQL is a built-in OR/M (object relational mapper) in .NET 3.5. It enables you to model relational databases using a .NET object model. You can then query the database using LINQ, as well as update/insert/delete data from it. LINQ to SQL fully supports transactions, views, and stored procedures. It also provides an easy way to integrate business logic and validation rules into your data model. Below are some of the articles I've written that explore how to use it:
I'll be adding several more articles to my series above in the weeks ahead. I think you'll find that LINQ to SQL makes it dramatically easier to build much cleaner data models, and write much cleaner data code.
Lots of other improvements
The list above is only a small set of the improvements coming. For client development VS 2008 includes WPF designer and project support. ClickOnce and WPF XBAPs now work with FireFox. WinForms and WPF projects can also now use the ASP.NET Application Services (Membership, Roles, Profile) for roaming user data. Office development is much richer - including support for integrating with the Office 2007 ribbon. WCF and Workflow projects and designers are included in VS 2008. Unit testing support is now much faster and included in VS Professional (and no longer just VSTS). Continuous Integration support is now built-in with TFS. AJAX web testing (unit and load) is now supported in the VS Test SKU. And there is much, much more...
Important Installation Notes - PLEASE READ!
There are two important things you should do immediately after installing VS 2008 and .NET 3.5 Beta2:
1) You should download and run this batch file. This takes only a few seconds to run, and fixes an issue we found earlier this week with the version policy of System.Web.Extensions.dll - which is the assembly that contains ASP.NET AJAX. If you don't run this batch file, then existing ASP.NET 2.0 projects built with ASP.NET AJAX 1.0 and VS 2005 will end up automatically picking up the new version of ASP.NET AJAX that ships in .NET 3.5 Beta2. This will work and run fine - but cause you to inadvertently introduce a .NET 3.5 dependency in the applications you build with VS 2005. Running the batch file will change the version binding policy of the new System.Web.Extensions.dll assembly and ensure that you only use the new .NET 3.5 ASP.NET AJAX version with projects that you are explicitly building for .NET 3.5.
2) If you have ever installed a previous version of "Orcas" or VS 2008 on your machine (either Beta1 or one of the CTP versions), you need to reset your VS 2008 settings after installing Beta2. If you don't do this, you'll have an odd set of settings configured (some windows will be in the wrong place), and you'll potentially see some IDE performance slowness. You can reset your settings by typing "DevEnv /resetsettings" on the command-line against the VS 2008 version of the IDE:
There are a lot of new improvements and enhancements that I hope you'll find really useful with VS 2008 and .NET 3.5. Stay tuned to my blog over the next few weeks as I'll be posting more about some of the new features and how to get the most out of them.