To VS.NET or not to VS.NET
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Published: 23 Feb 2002
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This article provides a quick look and review of the new Visual Studio.NET 2002
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To VS.NET or not to VS.NET


Published 02/23/02


Visual Studio (or any of the Visual [language name] series) has been the the leader in letting developers develop applications quickly with drag & drop, intellisense and code completion. Visual Studio.NET (VS.NET) is no exception. This article is going to give you the good and bad of VS.NET

Chocolate, Vanilla or Strawberry

Visual Studio.NET Enterprise Architect

Previously, VS came in three flavors - Standard, Professional and Enterprise. In VS.NET they come in three, but have been renamed to -

  • Professional

  • Enterprise Developer

  • Enterprise Architect

Each of these have different features, benefits and price tags, see a table here. Professional should be enough for most people as it provides all of the languages and projects. So unless you really want Visio, ACT, VSS etc. then you don't need anything else.


Unpack and Install

MSDN Universal Subscription

I'll start at the beginning, when Microsoft sent me three copies of VS.NET Beta 2, I notices that it was on five cds. I thought that this was a bit much for VS.NET however, only three of those were needed for the actual application

VS.NET Enterprise Architect comes on seven cds! -

  • 3 Application cds

  • 1 MSDN library cd (this is actually disc 4)

  • Windows Component Update Disc

  • Visual Source Safe 6.0c for VS.NET

  • Visio for Enterprise Architects


In comparison to VS 6 -

  • 1 Application cd

  • 1 MSDN library disc

That's a heck of a lot more. Yes, it does have more features and has the .NET Framework, but I would have expected something that had less applications than VS6 and a single framework to maybe be a bit smaller (and take up less than 1.5GB of hard drive space).

After I got past that shock, it was straight into the install. The install went quite smoothly, however, it took over an hour to copy the files and a lot of registry keys were added and a lot of temp files were copied. However, I have no complaints about it stuffing up and messing up my system. It was also very informative when I was choosing the options to install (with diagrams of hard drive space usage and tree structure).

Visual Studio.NET
Enterprise Developer


Into the Application

Visual C#.NET

There is so much more in VS.NET and the single-UI really helps to pull everything together -

Click to View Full Picture

I don't really have any complaints about the UI, it was an excellent idea to combine them all since it is using the same framework and it works well with different projects, servers and applications all under one roof.

The problems really start when you start coding.


The code that Visual Studio generates isn't code that you would normally write (although you should know it already). I tested it by creating a data-powered ASP.NET page with DataGrids, SQL Server and XML all using the designer. When it came to changing some code in the code view, it was hardly understandable! It defined and creates objects in places that you wouldn't and so editing the code isn't reccomended, but the property pane gives you complete control over most of the properties and events anyway.

Another problem (which is more personal) is the fact that web forms always use Grid Layout by default and you can't turn this off. I don't like it because people with different screen resolutions and browsers will see it all messed up and munched. Flow is much better.

Visual VB.NET


Lazy programmers calling

MSDN Enterprise Subscription

With the enhancements of VS.NET, it makes actual coding almost obsolete and this was shown at Bill Gate's keynote at VSLive.

"The best way to avoid coding errors is to not code at all"

This opens it up to beginners and lazy programmers who want hundreds of lines of code done for them. Although I might fall into the category of lazy programmer, I would still learn the language so I can code with my trusty notepad before stepping up to VS.NET.



Is there anything you can't do in Notepad?

Visual Studio.NET

Apart from the drag and drop, free code and the features that come with it (ie. VSS, Visio etc.) there aren't any coding functions that you can't do with Notepad. This wasn't the case with applications like VB6 where you had to have VB6 to create VB applications, in .NET you can use use the command-line compiler (although, creating a Windows Form application in notepad wouldn't be my preference).  

The Price

MSDN Professional Subscription

Something that may stop you from getting it (especially students or people who don't program for a living) is the price. Prices range from $179 (Professional Upgrade after rebate) to over $2000 (Enterprise Architect before and after rebate).

However, there are two other options that you can use to get it -

1) Buy only the language you want, eg. VB.NET for around $99, however, Professional includes the others as well and more for only $80 more.

2) Get an MSDN subscription, this gives you one of the VS.NET flavors, but a whole lot of other stuff too from about $1000.


Go for it?

Answer the following questions -

  1. If you used .NET without VS.NET, did you feel like you needed it?

  2. Have you used VS before and found it great for development?

  3. Do you work in an environment where speed and efficiency is critical?

  4. Are you a beginner or lazy programmer?

  5. Can you afford it?

If you answered yes to some of those questions then VS.NET is probably right for you. It provides a lot of functionality which makes the development process much faster and easier, but takes you away from the code a bit. Overall, it is a solid product and continues the line of excellent Visual Studio products for development.

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