|Stable release||2008 SP1 (9.0.30729.1)
(August 11, 2008) [+/−]
|Preview release||2010 Ultimate RC
(February 08, 2010) [+/−]
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows|
|Available in||Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Russian|
|Type||Integrated Development Environment|
Microsoft Visual Studio is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) from Microsoft. It can be used to develop console and graphical user interface applications along with Windows Forms applications, web sites, web applications, and web services in both native code together with managed code for all platforms supported by Microsoft Windows, Windows Mobile, Windows CE, .NET Framework, .NET Compact Framework and Microsoft Silverlight.
Visual Studio includes a code editor supporting IntelliSense as well as code refactoring. The integrated debugger works both as a source-level debugger and a machine-level debugger. Other built-in tools include a forms designer for building GUI applications, web designer, class designer, and database schema designer. It accepts plug-ins that enhance the functionality at almost every level—including adding support for source control systems (like Subversion and Visual SourceSafe) to adding new toolsets like editors and visual designers for domain-specific languages or toolsets for other aspects of the software development lifecycle (like the Team Foundation Server client: Team Explorer).
Microsoft provides "Express" editions of its Visual Studio 2008 components Visual Basic, Visual C#, Visual C++, and Visual Web Developer at no cost. Visual Studio 2008 and 2005 Professional Editions, along with language-specific versions (Visual Basic, C++, C#, J#) of Visual Studio 2005 are available for free to students as downloads via Microsoft's DreamSpark program. Visual Studio 2010 is currently in Release Candidate and can be downloaded by the general public at no cost.
Visual Studio does not support any programming language, solution or tool intrinsically. Instead, it allows various functionality to be plugged in. Specific functionality is coded as a VSPackage. When installed, the functionality is available as a Service. The IDE provides three services: SVsSolution, which provides the ability to enumerate projects and solutions; SVsUIShell, which provides windowing and UI functionality (including tabs, toolbars and tool windows); and SVsShell, which deals with registration of VSPackages. In addition, the IDE is also responsible for coordinating and enabling communication between services. All editors, designers, project types and other tools are implemented as VSPackages. Visual Studio uses COM to access the VSPackages. The Visual Studio SDK also includes the Managed Package Framework (MPF), which is a set of managed wrappers around the COM-interfaces that allow the Packages to be written in .NET languages. However, MPF does not provide all the functionality exposed by the Visual Studio COM interfaces. The services can then be consumed for creation of other packages, which add functionality to the Visual Studio IDE.
Support for programming languages is added by using a specific VSPackage called a Language Service. A language service defines various interfaces which the VSPackage implementation can implement to add support for various functionality. Functionality that can be added this way includes syntax coloring, statement completion, brace matching, parameter information tooltips, member lists and error markers for background compilation. If the interface is implemented, the functionality will be available for the language. Language services are to be implemented on a per-language basis. The implementations can reuse code from the parser or the compiler for the language. Language services can be implemented either in native code or managed code. For native code, either the native COM interfaces or the Babel Framework (part of Visual Studio SDK) can be used. For managed code, the MPF includes wrappers for writing managed language services.
Visual Studio does not include any source control support built in but it defines the MSSCCI (Microsoft Source Code Control Interface) by implementing which source control systems can integrate with the IDE. MSSCCI defines a set of functions that are used to implement various source control functionality. MSSCCI was first used to integrate Visual SourceSafe with Visual Studio 6.0 but was later opened up via the Visual Studio SDK. Visual Studio .NET 2002 used MSSCCI 1.1, and Visual Studio .NET 2003 used MSSCCI 1.2. Both Visual Studio 2005 and 2008 use MSSCCI Version 1.3, which adds support for rename and delete propagation as well as asynchronous opening.
Visual Studio supports running multiple instances of the environment (each with its own set of VSPackages). The instances use different registry hives (see MSDN's definition of the term "registry hive" in the sense used here) to store their configuration state and are differentiated by their AppId (Application ID). The instances are launched by an AppId-specific .exe that selects the AppId, sets the root hive and launches the IDE. VSPackages registered for one AppId are integrated with other VSPackages for that AppId. The various product editions of Visual Studio are created using the different AppIds. The Visual Studio Express edition products are installed with their own AppIds, but the Standard, Professional and Team Suite products share the same AppId. Consequently, the Express editions can be installed side-by-side with other editions, unlike the other editions which update the same installation. The professional edition includes a superset of the VSPackages in the standard edition and the team suite includes a superset of the VSPackages in both other editions. The AppId system is leveraged by the Visual Studio Shell in Visual Studio 2008.
The Visual Studio code editor also supports setting bookmarks in code for quick navigation. Other navigational aids include collapsing code blocks and incremental search, in addition to normal text search and regex search. The code editor also includes a multi-item clipboard and a task list. The code editor supports code snippets, which are saved templates for repetitive code and can be inserted into code and customized for the project being worked on. A management tool for code snippets is built in as well. These tools are surfaced as floating windows which can be set to automatically hide when unused or docked to the side of the screen. The Visual Studio code editor also supports code refactoring including parameter reordering, variable and method renaming, interface extraction and encapsulation of class members inside properties, among others.
Visual Studio features background compilation (also called incremental compilation). As code is being written, Visual Studio compiles it in the background in order to provide feedback about syntax and compilation errors, which are flagged with a red wavy underline. Warnings are marked with a green underline. Background compilation does not generate executable code, since it requires a different compiler than the one used to generate executable code. Background compilation was initially introduced with Microsoft Visual Basic but has now been expanded for all included languages.
Visual Studio includes a debugger that works both as a source-level debugger as well as machine-level debugger. It works with both managed code as well as native code and can be used for debugging applications written in any language supported by Visual Studio. In addition, it can also attach to running processes and monitor and debug those processes. If source code for the running process is available, it displays the code as it is being run. If source code is not available, it can show the disassembly. The Visual Studio debugger can also create memory dumps as well as load them later for debugging. Multi-threaded programs are also supported. The debugger can be configured to be launched when an application running outside the Visual Studio environment crashes.
The debugger allows setting breakpoints (which allow execution to be stopped temporarily at a certain position) and watches (which monitor the values of variables as the execution progresses). Breakpoints can be conditional, meaning they get triggered when the condition is met. Code can be stepped over, i.e., run one line (of source code) at a time. It can either step into functions to debug inside it, or step over it, i.e., the execution of the function body isn't available for manual inspection. The debugger supports Edit and Continue, i.e., it allows code to be edited as it is being debugged (32 bit only; not supported in 64 bit). When debugging, if any variable is hovered over by the mouse pointer, its current value is displayed in a tooltip ("data tooltips"), where it can also be modified if desired. During coding, the Visual Studio debugger lets certain functions be invoked manually from the
Immediate tool window. The parameters to the method are supplied at the Immediate window.
Visual Studio includes a host of visual designers to aid in the development of applications. These tools include:
Visual Studio allows developers to write extensions for Visual Studio to extend its capabilities. These extensions "plug into" Visual Studio and extend its functionality. Extensions come in the form of macros, add-ins, and packages. Macros represent repeatable tasks and actions that developers can record programmatically for saving, replaying, and distributing. Macros, however, cannot be used to implement new commands or create tool windows. They are written using Visual Basic and are not compiled. Add-Ins provide access to the Visual Studio object model and can interact with the IDE tools. Add-Ins can be used to implement new functionality and can add new tool windows. Add-Ins are plugged in to the IDE via COM and can be created in any COM-compliant languages. Packages are created using the Visual Studio SDK and provide the highest level of extensibility. It is used to create designers and other tools, as well as to integrate other programming languages. The Visual Studio SDK provides both unmanaged as well as a managed API to accomplish these tasks. However, the managed API isn't as comprehensive as the unmanaged one. Extensions are supported in the Standard (and higher) versions of Visual Studio 2005. Express Editions do not support hosting extensions.
Visual Studio 2008 introduced the Visual Studio Shell that allows for development of a customized version of the IDE. The Visual Studio Shell defines a set of VSPackages that provide the functionality required in any IDE. On top of that, other packages can be added to customize the installation. The Isolated mode of the shell creates a new AppId where the packages are installed. These are to be started with a different executable. It is aimed for development of custom development environments, either for a specific language or a specific scenario. The Integrated mode installs the packages into the AppId of the Professional/Standard/Team System editions, so that the tools integrate into these editions. The Visual Studio Shell is available as a free download.
After the release of Visual Studio 2008, Microsoft created the Visual Studio Gallery. It serves as the central location for posting information about extensions to Visual Studio. Community developers as well as commercial developers can upload information about their extensions to Visual Studio .NET 2002 through Visual Studio 2008. Users of the site can rate and review the extensions to help assess the quality of extensions being posted. RSS feeds to notify users on updates to the site and tagging features are also planned.
Microsoft Visual Studio is available in the following editions:
|Product||Extensions||External Tools||Setup Projects||MSDN Integration||Class Designer||Refactoring||Debugging||Target Native 64 bit||Target Itanium Processors||Visual Studio Tools for Office||Windows Mobile Development|
|Visual Studio Express||No||minimal||reduced functionality||MSDN Express||No||reduced functionality||reduced functionality||No||No||No||No|
|Visual Studio Standard||Yes||Yes||reduced functionality||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Visual Studio Professional||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Visual Studio Team System editions||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Microsoft first released the Visual Studio in 1997, bundling many of its programming tools together for the first time. Visual Studio 97 was released in two editions, Professional and Enterprise. It included Visual Basic 5.0 and Visual C++ 5.0, primarily for Windows programming; Visual J++ 1.1 for Java and Windows programming; and Visual FoxPro 5.0 for database, specifically xBase programming. It introduced Visual InterDev for creating dynamically generated web sites using Active Server Pages. A snapshot of the Microsoft Developer Network library was also included.
Visual Studio 97 was Microsoft's first attempt at using the same development environment for multiple languages. Visual C++, Visual J++, InterDev, and the MSDN Library all used one environment, called Developer Studio. Visual Basic and Visual FoxPro used separate environments.
The next version, version 6.0, was released in June 1998 and is the last version to run on the Windows 9x platform. The version numbers of all of its constituent parts also moved to 6.0, including Visual J++ which jumped from 1.1, and Visual InterDev which was at 1.0. This version was the basis of Microsoft's development system for the next four years, as Microsoft transitioned their development focus to the .NET Framework.
Visual Studio 6.0 was the last version to include the COM-based version of Visual Basic; subsequent versions would include the version of the language based on .NET. It was also the last version to include Visual J++, which was removed as part of a settlement with Sun Microsystems that required Microsoft to stop producing programming tools that targeted the Java Virtual Machine.
Visual Basic, Visual C++, and Visual FoxPro had separate IDEs, while Visual J++ and Visual InterDev shared a common new environment. This new IDE was designed with extensibility in mind, and would go on (after several internal revisions) to become the common environment for all languages with the release of Visual Studio .NET. Visual Studio 6.0 was also the last version to include Visual FoxPro.
As usual, Visual Studio 6.0 came in several editions: Standard, Professional & Enterprise. The Enterprise edition contains extra features not found in Standard or Professional edition, which includes:
Microsoft released Visual Studio .NET, codenamed Rainier (for Washington's Mount Rainier), in February 2002 (the beta version was released via Microsoft Developer Network in 2001). The biggest change was the introduction of a managed code development environment using the .NET Framework. Programs developed using .NET are not compiled to machine language (like C++ is, for example) but instead to a format called Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL) or Common Intermediate Language (CIL). When an MSIL application is executed, it is compiled while being executed into the appropriate machine language for the platform it is being executed on, thereby making code portable across several platforms. Programs compiled into MSIL can be executed only on platforms which have an implementation of Common Language Infrastructure. It is possible to run MSIL programs in Linux or Mac OS X using non-Microsoft .NET implementations like Mono and DotGNU.
Visual Studio .NET 2002 shipped in four editions: Academic, Professional, Enterprise Developer, and Enterprise Architect. Microsoft introduced C# (C-sharp), a new programming language, that targets .NET. It also introduced the successor to Visual J++ called Visual J#. Visual J# programs use Java's language syntax. However, unlike Visual J++ programs, Visual J# programs can only target the .NET Framework, not the Java Virtual Machine that all other Java tools target.
Visual Basic was drastically changed to fit the new framework, and the new version was called Visual Basic .NET. Microsoft also added extensions to C++, called Managed Extensions for C++, so that C++ programmers could create .NET programs.
Visual Studio .NET can be used to make applications targeting Windows (using Windows Forms, part of the .NET Framework), Web (using ASP.NET and Web Services) and, with an add-in, portable devices (using the .NET Compact Framework).
The Visual Studio .NET environment was rewritten to partially use .NET. All languages are unified under one environment. Compared to previous versions of Visual Studio, it has a cleaner interface and greater cohesiveness. It is also more customizable with tool windows that automatically hide when not in use. While Visual FoxPro 7 started out as part of Visual Studio 7, and early VS betas allowed debugging inside VFP-based DLLs, it was removed before release to follow its own development track.
The internal version number of Visual Studio .NET is version 7.0. Microsoft released Service Pack 1 for Visual Studio .NET 2002 in March, 2005.
In April 2003, Microsoft introduced a minor upgrade to Visual Studio .NET called Visual Studio .NET 2003, codenamed Everett (for the city of the same name). It includes an upgrade to the .NET Framework, version 1.1, and is the first release to support for developing programs for mobile devices, using ASP.NET or the .NET Compact Framework. The Visual C++ compiler's standards-compliance was improved, especially in the area of partial template specialization. Visual C++ Toolkit 2003 is a free version of the same C++ compiler shipped with Visual Studio .NET 2003 without the IDE, though it is no longer available and now superseded by the Express Editions. The internal version number of Visual Studio .NET 2003 is version 7.1 while the file format version is 8.0.
Visual Studio .NET 2003 shipped in four editions: Academic, Professional, Enterprise Developer, and Enterprise Architect. The Visual Studio .NET 2003 Enterprise Architect edition includes an implementation of Microsoft Visio 2002's modeling technologies, which includes tools for creating Unified Modeling Language-based visual representations of an application's architecture, and a powerful Object-Role Modeling (ORM) and logical database modeling solution. "Enterprise Templates" were also introduced, to help larger development teams standardize coding styles and enforce policies around component usage and property settings.
Service Pack 1 was released September 13, 2006.
Visual Studio 2005, codenamed Whidbey (a reference to Whidbey Island in Puget Sound), was released online in October 2005 and to retail stores a few weeks later. Microsoft removed the ".NET" moniker from Visual Studio 2005 (as well as every other product with .NET in its name), but it still primarily targets the .NET Framework, which was upgraded to version 2.0. It is the last version available for Windows 2000. Visual Studio 2005's internal version number is 8.0 while the file format version is 9.0. Microsoft released Service Pack 1 for Visual Studio 2005 on 14 December 2006. An additional update for Service Pack 1 that offers Windows Vista compatibility was made available on 3 June 2007.
Visual Studio 2005 was upgraded to support all the new features introduced in .NET Framework 2.0, including generics and ASP.NET 2.0. The IntelliSense feature in Visual Studio was upgraded for generics and new project types were added to support ASP.NET web services. Visual Studio 2005 also includes a local web server, separate from IIS, that can be used to host ASP.NET applications during development and testing. It also supports all SQL Server 2005 databases. Database designers were upgraded to support the ADO.NET 2.0, which is included with .NET Framework 2.0. C++ also got a similar upgrade with the addition of C++/CLI which is slated to replace the use of Managed C++. Other new features of Visual Studio 2005 include the "Deployment Designer" which allows application designs to be validated before deployments, an improved environment for web publishing when combined with ASP.NET 2.0 and load testing to see application performance under various sorts of user loads. Visual Studio 2005 also added extensive 64-bit support. While the development environment itself is only available as a 32-bit application, Visual C++ 2005 supports compiling for x86-64 (AMD64 and Intel 64) as well as IA-64 (Itanium). The Platform SDK included 64-bit compilers and 64-bit versions of the libraries.
Microsoft also announced Visual Studio Tools for Applications as the successor to Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and VSA (Visual Studio for Applications). VSTA 1.0 was released to manufacturing along with Office 2007. It is included with Office 2007 and is also part of the Visual Studio 2005 SDK. VSTA consists of a customized IDE, based on the Visual Studio 2005 IDE, and a runtime that can be embedded in applications to expose its features via the .NET object model. Office 2007 applications continue to integrate with VBA, except for InfoPath 2007 which integrates with VSTA. The current version of VSTA (version 2.0, based on Visual Studio 2008) was released in April, 2008. It is significantly different from the first version, including features such as dynamic programming and support for WPF, WCF, WF, LINQ, and .NET 3.5.
Visual Studio 2008, and Visual Studio Team System 2008 codenamed Orcas, was released to MSDN subscribers on 19 November 2007 alongside .NET Framework 3.5. The codename Orcas is, like Whidbey, a reference to an island in Puget Sound, Orcas Island. The source code for the Visual Studio 2008 IDE will be available under a shared source license to some of Microsoft's partners and ISVs. Microsoft released Service Pack 1 for Visual Studio 2008 on 11 August 2008. The internal version number of Visual Studio 2008 is version 9.0 while the file format version is 10.0.
Visual Studio 2008 is focused on development of Windows Vista, 2007 Office system, and Web applications. For visual design, a new Windows Presentation Foundation visual designer and a new HTML/CSS editor influenced by Microsoft Expression Web are included. J# is not included. Visual Studio 2008 requires .NET Framework 3.5 and by default configures compiled assemblies to run on .NET Framework 3.5, but it also supports multi-targeting which lets the developers choose which version of the .NET Framework (out of 2.0, 3.0, 3.5, Silverlight CoreCLR or .NET Compact Framework) the assembly runs on. Visual Studio 2008 also includes new code analysis tools, including the new Code Metrics tool (only in Team Edition and Team Suite Edition). For Visual C++, Visual Studio adds a new version of Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC 9.0) that adds support for the visual styles and UI controls introduced with Windows Vista. For native and managed code interoperability, Visual C++ introduces the STL/CLR, which is a port of the C++ Standard Template Library (STL) containers and algorithms to managed code. STL/CLR defines STL-like containers, iterators and algorithms that work on C++/CLI managed objects.
The Visual Studio debugger includes features targeting easier debugging of multi-threaded applications. In debugging mode, in the Threads window, which lists all the threads, hovering over a thread will display the stack trace of that thread in tooltips. The threads can directly be named and flagged for easier identification from that window itself. In addition, in the code window, along with indicating the location of the currently executing instruction in the current thread, the currently executing instructions in other threads are also pointed out. The Visual Studio debugger supports integrated debugging of the .NET Framework 3.5 BCL. It can dynamically download the BCL source code and debug symbols and allow stepping into the BCL source during debugging. Currently a limited subset of the BCL source is available, with more library support planned for later in the year.
The final version of Visual Studio 2010 is scheduled to be presented at the DevConnections conference on April 12–14.
The Visual Studio 2010 IDE has been redesigned which, according to Microsoft, clears the UI organization and "reduces clutter and complexity." The new IDE better supports multiple document windows and floating tool windows, while offering better multi-monitor support. The IDE shell has been rewritten using the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), whereas the internals have been redesigned using Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) that offers more extensibility points than previous versions of the IDE that enabled add-ins to modify the behavior of the IDE. The new multi-paradigm programming language ML-variant F# will be a part of Visual Studio 2010; as will be M, the textual modeling language, and Quadrant, the visual model designer, which are a part of the Oslo initiative.
Visual Studio 2010 will come with version 4.0 of the .NET Framework and will support developing applications targeting Windows 7. It will support IBM DB2 and Oracle databases (see IBM.com and TeamFuze.net for more information), in addition to Microsoft SQL Server. It will have integrated support for developing Microsoft Silverlight applications, including an interactive designer. Visual Studio 2010 will offer several tools to make parallel programming simpler: in addition to the Parallel Extensions for the .NET Framework and the Parallel Patterns Library for native code, Visual Studio 2010 includes tools for debugging parallel applications. The new tools let parallel Tasks and their runtime stacks to be visualized. Tools for profiling parallel applications can be used for visualization of thread wait times and thread migrations across processor cores. Intel and Microsoft have jointly pledged support for a new Concurrency Runtime in Visual Studio 2010 and Intel has launched parallelism support in Parallel Studio as an add-on for Visual Studio.
The Visual Studio 2010 code editor now highlights references; whenever a symbol is selected, all other usages of the symbol are highlighted. It also offers a Quick Search feature to incrementally search across all symbols in C++, C# and VB.NET projects. Quick Search supports substring matches and camelCase searches. The Call Hierarchy feature allows the developer to see all the methods that are called from a current method as well as the methods that call the current one. IntelliSense in Visual Studio supports a consume-first mode, which can be opted-into by the developer. In this mode, IntelliSense will not auto-complete identifiers; this allows the developer to use undefined identifiers (like variable or method names) and define those later. Visual Studio 2010 can also help in this by automatically defining them, if it can infer their types from usage.
Visual Studio Team System 2010, codenamed Rosario is being positioned for application lifecycle management. It will include new modelling tools, including the Architecture Explorer that graphically displays the projects and classes and the relationships between them. It supports UML activity diagram, component diagram, (logical) class diagram, sequence diagram, and use case diagram. Visual Studio Team System 2010 also includes Test Impact Analysis which provides hints on which test cases are impacted by modifications to the source code, without actually running the test cases. This speeds up testing by avoiding running unneeded test cases.
Visual Studio Team System 2010 also includes a Historical Debugger. Unlike the current debugger, that records only the currently-active stack, the historical debugger records all events like prior function calls, method parameters, events, exceptions etc. This allows the code execution to be rewound in case a breakpoint wasn't set where the error occurred. The historical debugger will cause the application to run slower than the current debugger, and will use more memory as additional data needs to be recorded. Microsoft allows configuration of how much data should be recorded, in effect allowing developers to balance speed of execution and resource usage. The Lab Management component of Visual Studio Team System 2010 uses virtualization to create a similar execution environment for testers and developers. The virtual machines are tagged with checkpoints which can later be investigated for issues, as well as to reproduce the issue. Visual Studio Team System 2010 also includes the capability to record test runs that capture the specific state of the operating environment as well as the precise steps used to run the test. These steps can then be played back to reproduce issues.