Wednesday, June 20, 2007

second look: RadControls in "Orcas" Beta 1

It has been about 3 months since I last looked at the RadControls in Visual Studio "Orcas", and since that time a new pre-release version of the IDE has been loosed on the public. In "Orcas" Beta 1, a number of things that were wrong with the March CTP have been greatly improved and the new Visual Studio is really starting to come into its own.

As in the March CTP, the RadControls continue to work fine in the new beta. The toolbox still has to be manually updated with the RadControls, but beyond that the controls seem to work fine in Design, Split, and Source view.

JavaScript IntelliSense
One thing that has been greatly improved in the last 3 months, though, is JavaScript IntelliSense (excuse me, JScript IntelliSense). You may recall that in March I had a very difficult time getting IntelliSense to work correctly due to the unsightly TypeLibBuilder errors. In this beta, those problems have been corrected and JavaScript IntelliSense worked right from the get go.

It is clear, though, that JavaScript IntelliSense is going to be most beneficial for writing standard JavaScript code and ASP.NET AJAX client-side code. Using the JavaScript IntelliSense for working with the RadControls (at least in the current form) is still a little impractical, mostly due to the challenges of getting your ASPX pages to reference the JavaScript files embedded in the RadControl assemblies.

In order for JS IntelliSense to work, your JavaScript file must be statically available to Visual Studio at design time. And while there are some methods for theoretically referencing the embedded resource at design time, they still present the problem of attaching a JS file to your page that you do not need. Michael Schwarz proposes a work around on his blog, but it is definitely hack that you're unlikely to want to do all of your projects.

Nonetheless, JavaScript IntelliSense (when configured with your JS files correctly) works as advertised and is very cool. If nothing else, it will be a great tool for exploring the RadControl client-side libraries and discovering client-side features that you may have otherwise missed.

Unit Testing
One announcement that I missed back in March was that the unit testing tools previously exclusive to Visual Studio Team Suite would start to be included in the Pro versions of Visual Studio "Orcas". This is a great move by the Visual Studio team to help make unit testing more accessible to all .Net developers, and frankly it is long overdue.

The latest "Orcas" beta is a Professional edition product (versus the Team Suite edition that I reviewed in March) and it already includes the new unit testing tools. These tools, while familiar to TFS users, are a huge improvement for all Visual Studio users and make the process of creating unit tests very easy. The tools enable you to either write your test cases ahead of time (standard Test Driven Development practice) or use a wizard to generate test stubs for existing code (very cool time saving feature that's hard to find in other tools).

The addition of unit testing tools to Pro editions of Visual Studio may be the most compelling reason to upgrade when "Orcas" ships later this year (or "very" early next). While many of the other improvements in "Orcas" are incremental in nature- simply improving what has been possible in the past- the unit testing capabilities add a whole new dimension of functionality to the product for a majority of its users.

Conclusions
Visual Studio "Orcas" is definitely shaping up to be a solid and worthwhile upgrade. RadControls integration continues to be solid and any lingering problems will definitely be resolved with the official release of the IDE. To see some of the new features discussed in this review in action, be sure to check out my new screenshot gallery full of screenshots and comments. You can also try the beta for yourself by downloading all eight parts here.

View screenshot gallery of "Orcas" beta 1 review

5 comments:

Zack Owens said...

Don't you mean Visual Studio 2008? :)

Todd Anglin said...

Zack-

Nice try. :) It's not "officially" VS 2008 yet. Just look at the loading screen in the screenshot gallery (or the pic attached to this post). For now, it's still "Visual Studio codenamed Orcas". Soon, though, Orcas will meet the same fate as Whidbey before it and become the super creative "VS 2008". ;)

Thanks~
Todd

ycuentocorto said...

Do you know if there are any RadControls Intellisense for VS 2005?

thanks

Todd Anglin said...

@ycuentocorto- Yes, absolutely. All of the RadControls work with VS2005, VS2008, and soon VS2010. This includes the VS IntelliSense features. If you have any trouble, try the Telerik Forums for help:

http://www.telerik.com/forums

Hope that helps.

ycuentocorto said...

Ups "RadControls Intellisense" must be "RadControls Javascript Intellisense"

The client-side intellisense.

Thanks for the quickly response.