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What's New in Visual Studio .NET 2003

Visual Studio .NET 2003

Visual Studio .NET is the tool for rapidly building enterprise-scale ASP.NET Web applications and high performance desktop applications. Visual Studio includes component-based development tools, such as Visual C#, Visual J#, Visual Basic, and Visual C++, as well as a number of additional technologies to simplify team-based design, development, and deployment of your solutions.

Visual Studio supports the Microsoft .NET Framework, which provides the common language runtime and unified programming classes; ASP.NET uses these components to create ASP.NET Web applications and XML Web services. Also included is the MSDN Library, which contains all the documentation for these development tools. For more information, see Overview of the .NET Framework, and Programming the Web with XML Web Services.

To learn more about the new and enhanced features available with this version of Visual Studio, select from the links below. These links take you to the sections within this topic.

Section Description
Integrated Development Environment Provides information about the shared Visual Studio interface and its features, such as Solution Explorer, build, and debug.
Side-by-Side Installations of Visual Studio .NET Lists points to consider when Visual Studio .NET 2002 and 2003 are installed on the same machine.
Visual J# Provides a brief overview of the newest language in the Visual Studio IDE.
Tools for Developing for Devices Provides information on Smart Device Applications and ASP.NET Mobile Designer.

Integrated Development Environment

General Integrated Development Environment Tools

Start Page

The Start Page has been re-designed for this release. You can still set your user preferences for IDE behavior and access new or existing projects, but with a user interface designed to be easier to navigate. Both the My Profile and Project sections now have their own tabs. The Online Resources tab now contains useful Microsoft related online developer resources.

Solution Explorer

A new option, Track Active Item in Solution Explorer, has been added to the Projects and Solutions, Environment, Options Dialog Box. When this option is selected, Solution Explorer automatically opens the folder for the active item, scrolls to its node, and selects its name. The selected item changes as you work with different files within a project or solution, or different components within an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) designer. When this option is cleared, the selection in Solution Explorer does not change automatically. This option is enabled by default, but it is cleared when you choose the "Visual C++ Developer" or "Visual C# Developer" profile on the My Profile tab of the Visual Studio Start Page.

New icons in the Solution Explorer toolbar include:

  • Checked Out Exclusive - Item is checked out from a source control database to one developer only. Other developers cannot access this file.
  • Checked Out Shared - Item is checked out from a source control database for shared use by a development team. Different versions of the item will be merged upon checkin.

Options and Settings

You can copy certain Options dialog box settings from a previous version of Visual Studio .NET to a more recent version. If you have two different versions of the program installed on the same machine, the first time you launch the newer version of the Visual Studio .NET, a dialog box appears giving you the choice to migrate your existing setting. If you dismiss this dialog, you can display it later by executing the following command from the Windows command line:

devenv /migratesettings

After you migrate your previous Options settings into the new version of Visual Studio .NET, select Options from the Tools menu to display the Options dialog box and review your settings. Most option settings should appear as you last set them.

Note   In cases where the default value for an option has changed, or where one Option enables or disables another, your previous setting or the previous default value will generally override the option's current default value.

For more information, see Migrate Options Dialog Box and /migratesettings.

Web References

The Start Browsing for XML Web Services pane in the Add Web Reference Dialog Box now provides Web links to both local and Internet sources of available Web services. Use this pane to locate the desired Web service, then enter a Web reference name to use in your code, and select Add Reference. The new reference will appear in Solution Explorer under the Web References node for the active project.

Web links to sources of available Web services include the following:

  • Web services on the local machine - select this link to list Web services available on your own Visual Studio .NET developer machine.
    Note   Internet Information Services (IIS) must be installed and running on your local machine for this link to return information. For help on using IIS, see the Help for the IIS Control Panel or MMC snap-in, and Internet Information Services 5.0 Authentication Methods.

    Within the list of Services returned, click any service name to retrieve descriptions of the objects and methods it provides for use in your code.

  • Browse UDDI Servers on the local network - select this link to list servers with Web services that are available within your local area network.
  • UDDI Directory - select this link to search the Microsoft UDDI Business Registry for businesses that provide Web services.
  • Test Microsoft UDDI Directory - select this link to list Web services under development that have been posted for testing.

For more information, see Locating XML Web Services and Adding and Removing Web References.


A new option, Only build startup projects and dependencies on Run, has been added to the Projects and Solutions, Environment, Options Dialog Box, under Build and Run Options. When this option is selected, pressing F5 or choosing the Start or Build command from the Debug or Run menu only builds the startup project and its dependencies. When this option is cleared, pressing F5 builds all projects, dependencies, and solution files. This option is cleared by default, but it is enabled when you choose the "Visual C++ Developer" and the " Visual C# Developer" profile on the My Profile tab of the Visual Studio Start Page.

For Visual C++ projects only, three new commands have been placed on a new Project Only submenu of the Build menu:

  • Build Only <projectname>
  • Rebuild Only <projectname>
  • Clean Only <projectname>

These commands build, rebuild, or clean only the C++ project currently selected in Solution Explorer, without building or cleaning any project dependencies or solution files.


The Visual Studio .NET 2003 debugger has been enhanced by the addition of several new features:

  • Security enhancements, including a new restriction that limits Just-In-Time Debugging to the local machine.
  • Remote debugging using pipes, a new, more secure alternative to TCP/IP debugging.
  • SOS, a powerful tool for debugging from the Command window.
  • Support for automatically downloading of debug symbols from a symbol server.
  • Improved error messages, especially for errors that occur while debugging web applications.

For more details, see What's New in the Visual Studio .NET 2003 Debugger.


Support for Multiple Versions of the .NET Framework

You can create installers that target a specific version of the .NET Framework using a launch condition that checks for the correct version and redirects the user to a Web location to download if necessary.

Automation Object Model

Visual C++ .NET 2003 features five new property pages for Visual C++ projects:

  • Managed Resources
  • XML Data Generator Tool
  • Managed Wrapper
  • Auxiliary Managed Wrapper
  • Primary Interop

In addition to these new property pages, new objects and members were added to the VCProjectEngine assembly to enable users to programmatically manipulate these new property pages and their values, as well as existing property pages.

The new objects are:

  • VCActiveXReference
  • VCALinkTool
  • VCAssemblyReference
  • VCAuxiliaryManagedWrapperGeneratorTool
  • VCDesignerReference
  • VCManagedResourceCompilerTool
  • VCManagedWrapperGeneratorTool
  • VCPrimaryInteropTool
  • VCProjectReference
  • VCReference
  • VCReferenceConfiguration
  • VCReferences
  • VCXMLDataGeneratorTool

For more information, see Visual C++ Project Model.

Side-by-Side Installations of Visual Studio .NET

Visual Studio supports installation of versions 2002 and 2003 on the same machine; however you should be aware of certain issues.

  • Visual Studio .NET 2002 shipped with the Microsoft .NET Framework SDK version 1.0. Visual Studio .NET 2003 ships with .NET Framework SDK version 1.1. If you developed applications that reference .NET Framework version 1.0 and attempt to open the solution in Visual Studio .NET 2003, the references to .NET Framework are changed to reference .NET Framework 1.1. You should review the latest .NET Framework documentation for information on changes that might affect your application. For more information, see Targeting a .NET Framework Version and Installation and Setup.
  • If you open and then save solutions created in Visual Studio .NET 2002 in Visual Studio .NET 2003, you can no longer open the solution created in version 2002 in Visual Studio .NET 2002.

For more information, see Installation and Setup.

Preferred Help Collection

In the Help, Environment, Options Dialog Box, a drop-down menu for the Preferred Help Collection option displays the documentation sets available while working in your version of Visual Studio .NET. The default choice, Visual Studio .NET 2003 Combined Help Collection, makes available both the original product documentation and any additional Help collections designed to be integrated with Visual Studio .NET, such as Help for Visual Studio add-ons.

Tip   To retain access to all of your Visual Studio Help, select the default choice for this option, Visual Studio .NET 2003 Combined Help Collection. You can then use Help filters to focus searches on topics related to your needs. For more information, see Customizing Dynamic Help.

Visual J#

Microsoft Visual J# can be used by developers who are familiar with the Java-language syntax to build applications and services on the .NET Framework using the Visual Studio .NET 2003 IDE. Visual J# also supports most of the functionality found in Visual J++ 6.0, including Microsoft extensions. For more information, see Introducing Visual J#.

Tools for Developing for Devices

Smart Device Applications

The Visual Studio .NET integrated development environment now includes tools for developing applications for smart devices, such as the Pocket PC. Using the tools and the .NET Compact Framework, a subset of the .NET Framework, you can create, build, debug, and deploy applications that run on the .NET Compact Framework in personal digital assistants (PDAs), mobile phones, and other resource-constrained devices. For more information, see Smart Device Projects.

ASP.NET Mobile Designer

ASP.NET Mobile Designer extends ASP.NET and the .NET Framework, allowing you to build Web applications for mobile phones, PDAs, and pagers. This designer is integrated into the Visual Studio IDE. You can create mobile Web applications, use the Mobile Designer to modify a mobile Web form, and then build and run the application, all from within Visual Studio. For more information, see Getting Started with the ASP.NET Mobile Designer.

See Also

Introducing Visual Studio .NET | What's New in Visual Studio .NET | Programming with Office