Last week we shipped Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5. This release is a big one for .NET, and delivers a ton of new capabilities and improvements for web, client, office and mobile development.
Over the next few months we'll be delivering a series of additional products that build on top of this VS 2008 and .NET 3.5 foundation, and make .NET development even better. Below is a road-map of some of the upcoming initiatives and releases for .NET web development that my team is currently working on for the months ahead:
Releasing the Source Code for the .NET Framework Libraries
We announced last month that we'll provide the ability for developers to download and browse the source code of the .NET Framework libraries, as well as enable integrated source debugging of them using Visual Studio 2008. You can learn more about this in my blog post here.
We are finishing up the final deployment of the source servers that host this now, and will be publishing instructions on how to enable the integrated debugging experience within Visual Studio 2008 shortly. I'll blog detailed steps on how to turn this feature on once it is available.
ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions Release
VS 2008 and .NET 3.5 include a ton of new features for ASP.NET development. We are planning to deliver even more ASP.NET functionality next year with a "ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions" release. The first public preview of this will be available for download next week on the web.
Next week's ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions preview release will include:
- ASP.NET MVC: This model view controller (MVC) framework for ASP.NET provides a structured model that enables a clear separation of concerns within web applications, and makes it easier to unit test your code and support a TDD workflow. It also helps provide more control over the URLs you publish in your applications, and more control over the HTML that is emitted from them. You can learn more about it from Part 1 of my ASP.NET MVC Tutorial series. I'm hoping to find time this weekend to write and post Part 2 of the series.
- ASP.NET Dynamic Data Support: The ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions release will deliver new features that enable faster creation of data driven web sites. It provides a rich scaffolding framework, and enables rapid data driven site development using both ASP.NET WebForms and ASP.NET MVC.
- ASP.NET Silverlight Support: With the ASP.NET 3.5 Extensions release we'll deliver support for easily integrating Silverlight within your ASP.NET applications. Included will be new controls that make it easy to integrate Silverlight video/media and interactive content within your sites.
- ADO.NET Data Services: In parallel with the ASP.NET Extensions release we will also be releasing the ADO.NET Entity Framework. This provides a new modeling framework that enables developers to define a conceptual model of a database schema that closely aligns to a real world view of the information. We will also be shipping a new set of data services (codename "Astoria") that make it easy to expose REST based API endpoints from within your ASP.NET applications.
Silverlight 2.0 Release
Next year we will be releasing a major update of Silverlight that focuses on enabling rich Internet applications. This release will include a cross-platform, cross-browser version of the .NET Framework, and will enable a rich .NET development platform in the browser. Earlier this year we shipped an early Alpha containing some of the basic functionality of the release. Our next public preview will add considerably to this feature set. Some of the new .NET specific features in the next public Silverlight preview will include:
WPF UI Framework: The current Silverlight Alpha release only includes basic controls support and a managed API for UI drawing. The next public Silverlight preview will add support for the higher level features of the WPF UI framework. These include: the extensible control framework model, layout manager support, two-way data-binding support, and control template and skinning support. The WPF UI Framework features in Silverlight will be a compatible subset of the WPF UI Framework features in last week's .NET Framework 3.5 release.
Rich Controls: Silverlight will deliver a rich set of controls that make building Rich Internet Applications much easier. The next Silverlight preview release will add support for core form controls (textbox, checkbox, radiobutton, etc), built-in layout management controls (StackPanel, Grid, etc), common functionality controls (TabControl, Slider, ScrollViewer, ProgressBar, etc) and data manipulation controls (DataGrid, etc).
Rich Networking Support: Silverlight will deliver rich networking support. The next Silverlight preview release will add support for REST, POX, RSS, and WS* communication. It will also add support for cross domain network access (so that Silverlight clients can access resources and data from any trusted source on the web).
Rich Base Class Library Support: Silverlight will include a rich .NET base class library of functionality (collections, IO, generics, threading, globalization, XML, local storage, etc). The next Silverlight preview release will also add built-in support for LINQ to XML and richer HTML DOM API integration.
Previously we've been referring to this .NET-enabled Silverlight release as "Silverlight V1.1". After stepping back and looking at all the new features in it (the above list is only a subset - there are many more we aren't sharing yet), we've realized that calling it a point release doesn't really reflect the true nature of it. Consequently we have decided to change the name and refer to it as "Silverlight V2.0" going forward.
We will be releasing a Beta of Silverlight 2.0 in Q1 of 2008. This Beta will support a Go-Live license that enables developers to begin building and deploying Silverlight 2.0 applications.
We will also be releasing a free Visual Studio 2008 tools update that provides great Silverlight 2.0 tools support within Visual Studio 2008, and enables developers to easily build Silverlight applications using any .NET language. We will be supporting Silverlight development with both the Visual Studio 2008 Standard/Professional products, as well as with the free Visual Studio 2008 Express editions.
I'm going to be starting a new blog tutorial series in a few weeks that discusses how to build Silverlight 2.0 applications, and show off the new features in more depth. Stay tuned for more details soon.
Early next year we'll ship the final release of IIS 7.0 as part of the Windows Server 2008 release. As I've blogged about in the past, IIS 7.0 is a major update of our web-server stack, and introduces a significantly new and improved extensibility, configuration and administration architecture.
One of the really cool things about IIS 7.0 is that it is all nicely integrated with the .NET Framework, and enables you to use any .NET language to extend and customize the server. You can now easily do things in VB and C# that previously required writing a pretty gnarly C++ ISAPI. The deployment, management and administration of web applications on the server is also now nicely unified across IIS and ASP.NET.
We will also shortly begin sharing details of a new web application deployment framework for IIS that enables you to easily automate the deployment of web applications on either a single server or across a web farm of machines. It will make it easy to version your web applications (including allowing you to quickly roll back to previous versions), as well as automatically provision them across multiple servers. It also enables the full automation of deployment tasks (including via both command-line and PowerShell scripting APIs). The combination of IIS7 with this web deployment framework will enable you to deploy and scale your ASP.NET server applications better than ever before.
Last week's VS 2008 and .NET 3.5 release was a huge step forward for .NET development. The release not only delivered a ton of great new language, runtime and tool features, but even more importantly provided a really solid foundation that we'll be building upon in the months and years ahead. Stay tuned to my blog for more details about each of the above releases.
Hope this helps,