Observations on VS2008, .NET v3.5 after four months

Wow, can you believe the new versions have been with us already for one-third of a year? Time flies! I launched a site using the new versions shortly after release, so I'm happy to say that my experience in production has been mostly positive. Here are some loosely coupled thoughts...

First off, the IDE is a leap in the right direction. Compiling stuff in particular feels much faster. The only real performance complaint I can find involves the rare case where I need to switch from code view to WYSIWYG when dealing with HTML. And heck, that might be caused by ReSharper for some unknown reason. Ditto for the crashes I get frequently when editing CSS. I don't find the CSS features that useful, so I don't encounter those problems very often.

On one hand, I like that the framework now ships with all of the right goodies together, including the AJAX framework. What I don't like is the mess of a default web.config you need to get it all to work. It has not grown gracefully, and it's a pain to manage as you migrate older stuff to v3.5. The further distinctions using IIS7, which I haven't had to use yet, are also annoying.

I feel to a certain degree that VS isn't "done" without ReSharper, and I'm anxiously awaiting JetBrains to v4 moving forward. The most recent nightly builds are actually pretty sweet and mostly work, but every once in awhile it dies and brings down VS with it. That's the price you pay for being an uber-early adopter, I suppose.

While the AJAX framework has actually been out for about a year, I find that I'm just now getting deep into using it, especially the client side of things. I still have a strong distaste for JavaScript, but the framework does make it less painful to use. The challenge is thinking the way the authors want you to think, and once you make that leap, it's not nearly as hard to get functional code quickly.

The client-side debugging in IE is hit or miss. Sometimes it doesn't work, and I'm not even sure why. More often than not, I find myself ending up in Firebug and debugging that way. I think the biggest complaint I have is that it's still meant to work around the F5-and-run model, which is still not ideal in the Web world, where the URL's you use may frankly not even map to actual files, or you want to run off some current form state or user session data.

Beyond those minor issues, I'm enjoying the tools, and when I actually manage to buckle down and get something done, it's fun to write code.


  • Glad to hear positive things. I'm just really started to get exposed to it and will be installing shortly.

    I'm also glad that ajax is included in it now.

  • Yes, I'm aware of that, but it's the clumsy workaround I hate doing. :)

  • Wouldn't you need to attach to Internet Explorer (not IIS or WebDev.WebServer.EXE) to debug client-side JavaScript breakpoints?

    I'm hoping that Microsoft adopts a more Firebug-like model of JavaScript debugging. They made a good start with the Web Developer Helper that comes with IE 8.

  • Yes, you would, and that's cumbersome still. I wonder if you can set up a macro or something? I've never looked into it. Something that just does the attachment and you can go to whatever page you want.

  • Jeff,

    Have you considered using something like jQuery for your JavaScript stuff? I hated JS for years, and with jQuery, it's starting to be fun to write. Just a thought.

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