What's New in Visual Studio .NET 2002

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 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 various sections within this topic.

Section Description
The Integrated Development Environment Provides information about the new and improved items that are used by all of the products within the Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE).
Sample Applications Provides information about the Duwamish and the Fitch and Mather sample applications and the latest updates available with this release.
Product Documentation Provides information about the Dynamic Help window as well as how to display Help within the IDE or in a separate window.

The Integrated Development Environment

The following list of links covers new and improved items that are used by all of the products within the Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE). These links take you to the various sections within this topic.

Section Description
General Integrated Development Environment Tools Provides information about the shared Visual Studio interface and its features, such as Start Page, window Auto Hide, Tabbed Documents, and the Command window.
Application Templates Provides information about application architectural guidance available through Enterprise Templates.
Edit Tools Provides information about development tools, such as the code editor, HTML Designer, and Object Browser.
Debug Tools Provides information about the integrated debugger.
Deployment Tools Provides information about the deployment features available for this release, such as Windows Installer support and Merge Module support.
Macro and Automation Object Model Tools Provides information on macro recording and the enhanced automation object model.

General Integrated Development Environment Tools

Visual Basic, Visual C++, Visual C#, and Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) are hosted within the Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE). Sharing a single IDE provides many benefits, including consolidating similar tools from the various products into a set of shared tools used throughout Visual Studio.

Start Page
The Start Page provides a quick way to set your user preferences for how the IDE behaves, including the active keyboard mapping scheme, window layout, and Help filter, as well as access existing or new projects. You can also view links to the latest articles, events, and topics on MSDN Online as well as important resources for the Microsoft developer community at large. The Start Page appears by default each time you launch Visual Studio. For more information, see Start Page.
Web Browser
You can display Web pages directly within the IDE. To display a Web browser window in the IDE, choose Show Browser from the Web Browser submenu available on the View menu. The first time you open a Web browser window, the Start Page appears by default. When a Web browser window is open, the Web toolbar appears, which allows you to enter URLs, move backward and forward within the navigation history, and return to the Web browser home page. You can also access your Web browser favorites as well as add links to the favorites list from within Visual Studio.
Command Window
The Command window is an amalgamation of a command line and Visual Basic's Immediate window. It has two modes: Command and Immediate. In Command mode, you can enter IDE command names after the angle bracket (>). For easier access to frequently used commands, you can create aliases, or short names. Auto-completion works for command names, aliases, and file names. In Immediate mode, you can execute code statements, set or assign variables, evaluate expressions, and more. You can also enter commands into the Find/Command box on the Visual Studio toolbar. For more information, see Command Window, Visual Studio Commands, and Creating Custom Aliases for Visual Studio Commands.

Window Management

Visual Studio makes it easier than ever to view more of your code on-screen at one time. For more information, see Window Management.

Tabbed Documents
This feature automatically tabs document windows together within the IDE. For example, when you edit multiple documents in an editor or designer, the documents all appear in the documents multiple-document interface (MDI) area as tabs at the top.
Auto Hide
Auto Hide allows you to minimize tool windows, such as Solution Explorer and the Toolbox, along the edges of the IDE so that the windows do not occupy valuable space. By minimizing tool windows, you can increase the viewable space of the editor.
Navigate Backward and Navigate Forward
Navigate Backward and Navigate Forward allow you to navigate through the open windows in the environment as well as the selection and cursor history within files. For example, if you edit code on line 12 and then moved to line 102, you can use the Navigate Backward button to return to the exact same location in line 12. Both the Navigate Backward and Navigate Forward buttons have a drop-down list that displays the navigation history. The Navigate Backward and Navigate Forward buttons are located on the Standard toolbar; these commands are available from the View menu as well. You can also use shortcut key combinations provided by each pre-defined mapping scheme, such as CTRL+(-) and CTRL+SHIFT+(-), respectively, of the Default Settings scheme, instead.

Application Templates

Visual Studio provides application architectural guidance through templates.

Enterprise Templates
Visual Studio .NET provides several templates that software architects can use to reduce the complexity and cost of developing distributed applications. Using Enterprise Templates, you can define the initial structure of a distributed application and provide architectural and technological guidance to development teams. In addition to pre-defined Enterprise Templates, you can also create custom templates. For more information, see Enterprise Templates for Distributed Applications and Advantages of Using Enterprise Templates to Create Distributed Applications.

Edit Tools

Several enhancements have been made to the editing tools. In addition, Visual Studio includes an integrated Object Browser and code commenting support.

Find and Replace
All of the products in the IDE use the same search and replace tools for finding text, help, and objects. For information on how to search, see Searching and Replacing.
Editing Code
Visual Studio now has a unified code editor for all languages in the IDE that includes specialized features for each language. The code editor has several enhancements, such as word wrap, incremental search, code outlining, collapse to definition, line numbering, color printing, and shortcuts. You can access these features from the Edit or context menus. You can also navigate back and forward through the selection history of a document and among documents using the Navigate Backward and Navigate Forward buttons available on the Standard toolbar.

Another useful feature is the Clipboard Ring. The Clipboard Ring stores the last 20 items from the system clipboard that you have copied or cut. You can view the contents of the Clipboard Ring using CTRL+SHIFT+V in the editor or by looking in the Clipboard tab in the Toolbox. CTRL+SHIFT+V pastes an item from the Clipboard Ring at the insertion point in the file and automatically selects the pasted item. Pressing CTRL+SHIFT+V again pastes the next item from the Clipboard Ring over the previous item. You can rotate through all of the items by repeatedly pressing CTRL+SHIFT+V. You can also drag and drop text to and from the Clipboard tab in the Toolbox.

Editing HTML
The HTML Designer has two views, Design and HTML, to give you flexibility when designing Web pages. Design view is a WYSIWYG design surface that provides double-click and drag-and-drop functionality for HTML elements. For more information, see Editing HTML Pages in Design View. While editing in Design view, you can drag new elements from the HTML tab of the Toolbox and drop them directly onto your Web page. You can also click-and-drag to resize table cells, and use the context menu to add rows and columns to tables. For more information, see Creating and Editing HTML Tables in Design View.

A new document property named targetSchema allows you to select the browsers, such as Internet Explorer 5.0 or Navigator 4.0, that support your page. For more information, see Setting the targetSchema Property of an HTML Document. You can set the pageLayout property of your Web page to Linear Layout to let the user's Web browser display elements one after another as they occur on your page, or choose Grid Layout to use absolute positioning and let Snap to Grid align new elements automatically. For more information, see Setting the pageLayout Property of an HTML Document and Positioning HTML Elements in Design View.

Editing Cascading Style Sheets
When you create a style sheet, use the Styles menu to select Build Style. The Style Builder presents you with numerous ways of constructing style rules for different HTML elements. As you edit CSS style sheets in the main window of the CSS Editor, you can either use the Style Builder or enter CSS style rules manually. For more information, see Creating an External CSS Style Sheet and Style Builder Dialog Box.

You can use the Document Styles window to include styles in individual HTML documents as well as build styles and link to other style sheets. The Document Styles window can be used only with HTML documents that target Internet Explorer 5.0 or Netscape 4.0. You can access the Document Styles from the Format menu while in Design view of the HTML Designer. For more information, see Document Styles Window.

Editing XML
The XML Editor enables you to create XML schemas, datasets, and documents within the IDE. Users can specify the XML Schema Definition (XSD) to use when editing HTML and XML documents. For more information, see XML in Visual Studio.
Code Comment Web Report
C# provides special syntax that allows you to make annotations about the code you are writing that can later be extracted and displayed in a series of HTML pages or in a single .xml file. You can create HTML pages describing a project or solution, regardless of whether the language supports documentation comments.

For more information, see Tags for Documentation Comments and Viewing Code Structure with Comments.

Object Browser
The Object Browser is now unified to work with all Visual Studio languages. It allows you to explore and search for objects and their members in projects and their references, as well as in external libraries. For more information, see Browsing Code and Components.
Class View
Class View is now unified to work with all Visual Studio languages. This window allows you to examine and navigate to symbols in your solution. The symbols are organized by project and displayed in a hierarchical tree view, indicating the containment relationships among then. You can change the view to sort alphabetically, by type or access, or to group by type. You can navigate to definitions, declarations, or references, and you can search for symbols. Class View also features a new virtual folder that you can create and then drag symbols into for easier access. For more information, see Viewing Classes and Their Members.

Debug Tools

Visual Studio .NET incorporates a single integrated debugger for all Visual Studio languages, with a new unified interface combining features of the old Visual C++ and Visual Basic debuggers, as well as many new features. Major enhancements include:

  • Cross-language debugging of Visual Basic, Visual C++, Visual C#, the Managed Extensions for C++, Script, and SQL.
  • Debugging of applications written for the Common Language Runtime as well as Win32 native applications and script.
  • The ability to attach to and debug a running process launched outside of Visual Studio.
  • Seamless debugging of applications running locally or on remote servers.
  • Debugging of Web applications, locally or on a remote server.

    For more information, see What's New in the Visual Studio Debugger.

Deployment Tools

Deployment in Visual Studio .NET marks a departure from the traditional deployment model in previous versions, providing many new features to support Microsoft Windows Installer technology and simplify distributed development. For more information, see What's New in Deployment.

Windows Installer support
Visual Studio .NET deployment allows you to distribute finished applications to customers using the new Microsoft Windows Installer technology, including such features as installation rollback and application advertising.
Merge Module support
Merge Modules create a standardized installation for components, allowing you to share components that are used by multiple applications without worrying about version conflicts.
Deployment editors
Graphical deployment editors make creating installers easy, giving you full control over file target locations, registry settings, setup user interface, and more.

Macro and Automation Object Model Tools

The Visual Studio IDE has a greatly enhanced automation model as well as added support for macros.

Macro Recording
Macros now work for all languages in Visual Studio .NET, and you can record macros in the IDE and play them back. You can run them from the Macro Explorer or the Command window, or bind them to key combinations. You can also edit an existing macro or create your own from scratch. For more information, see Automating Repetitive Actions by Using Macros.
Automation Model
The automation object model has been significantly expanded and upgraded. Using this model, you can programmatically manipulate nearly every element of the IDE, including solutions, projects, and project items, the Code editor, tool windows, debugging tools, build, and deployment. For more information, see Extending the Visual Studio Environment or Automation and Extensibility Reference.

Sample Applications

Visual Studio includes sample applications that demonstrate how to use Microsoft tools and technologies to create real-world applications. The two enterprise samples, Duwamish, and Fitch and Mather, were built using Visual Studio .NET and Microsoft .NET Framework technology, such as ASP.NET and ADO.NET.

Duwamish is a fictitious, distributed, Web-based, book-selling e-commerce application. The sample is an end-to-end, business-to-consumer application that emphasizes functionality, scalability, securability, performance, and design methodology. Duwamish highlights best practices in the architecture and design of distributed Web-based applications and provides a model for the successful integration of Microsoft .NET Framework technology into an extensible enterprise solution. For more information, see Duwamish 7.0.
Fitch and Mather
Fitch and Mather is a fictitious Web-based stock brokerage application. The sample demonstrates the design, implementation, and deployment of a robust enterprise application with excellent performance, scalability, and interoperability. Additionally, the sample presents an implementation of enterprise-scale heterogeneous distributed transactions. For more information, see Fitch and Mather 7.0.

Product Documentation

Visual Studio provides a range of methods for you to quickly find and view product documentation. For more information, see Using Help in Visual Studio .NET.

Dynamic Help window
You can view a list of samples, topics, and other information based on your current selection context — a synthesis of the items selected, the operation being performed, and the types of documents or files open in the editor window. For example, if you have an .htm file open in HTML view and the cursor is on the element ACRONYM, a link to the HTML reference topic for that element appears in the Dynamic Help window. You can also add links to your own custom content. For more information, see Adding Custom Links to the Dynamic Help Window.
Searching MSDN
You can search for topics in the product documentation directly from the IDE by using the Search window available from the Help menu. Multiple topic matches for index and search operations are displayed in the Index Results window and Search Results window, respectively.
Viewing Help
You can view Help topics directly in the IDE or in a separate window. By default, Help topics are displayed directly in the IDE. You can choose to view Help in a separate window by selecting External Help on the Help pane of the Environment options in the Options dialog box. Help will appear in a separate window the next time you start the IDE.

See Also

Introducing Visual Studio .NET | Visual Studio .NET SDK | What's New in Visual Database Tools