Monday, May 12, 2008

VS 2008 and .NET 3.5 SP1 beta now available, Early adopters beware

Have you been eagerly waiting for the first round of service packs for Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5? If you haven't, then you are probably unaware of all the new features these service packs are delivering. These are aren't "standard" SPs that ship mostly invisible improvements and hotfix roll-ups. No, these SPs are shipping so many new features that it took the blogging powerhouse ScottGu a little over 4,000 words to describe them all. And since I expect many of you don't have the time to pour through a 4,000 word blog post, let me summarize the highlights of these betas (an impending final releases) here:

  • .NET 3.5 SP1
    • New! ASP.NET Dynamic Data (scaffolding support)
    • New! ASP.NET Routing Engine (URL routing ripped from MVC)
    • ASP.NET AJAX History Support (Fix back button, Support bookmarks)
    • ASP.NET AJAX Script Combining (combine any JavaScript files on the server)
    • Client and web performance improvements
      • Client apps cold starting up to 40% faster
      • ASP.NET apps improving throughput up to 10%
    • New! WinForms Controls (go figure...)
      • Including VectorShape, DataRepeater, PrintForm
    • New! WPF Extensible Shader Effects
      • Hardware accelerated visual effects (like DropShadow, Blur, etc.)
    • Tons of WPF performance improvements
    • New! ADO.NET Entity Framework and LinqToEntities
      • Can be used with any database, not just SQL Server!
    • New! ADO.NET Data Services (formerly "Astoria")
      • REST-based data service support
  • Visual Studio 2008 SP1
    • Improved IntelliSense support for multiple JavaScript/Ajax frameworks
    • HTML Designer and Source view performance improvements
    • Improved WPF project and designer support and performance
      • In other words, WPF development experience is much improved
    • New! ADO.NET Entity Framework designer
      • Looks like LinqToSql designer
    • Improved C# real-time error checking (more red squiggly errors sans-compile)
      • Um...finally!
    • Complete support for SQL Server 2008
Clearly, a lot is packed-in to these updates. If you weren't eager to install these SPs before, you're probably a little more excited now that you know what they're bringing to the table. But before you run off to volunteer as a guinea pig for these freshly baked service packs, there are a few serious "issues" with these betas you should consider:
  1. If you're using Vista, you must have SP1 installed.
  2. You need to uninstall the VS 2008 Tools for Silverlight 2 Beta
    • A compatible version of the tools will be available in a "few weeks"
  3. You need to install a new "special" version of Expression Blend
    • The "special" version addresses a temporary problem in .NET 3.5 SP1 that will go away in the final release, at which point you'll need to reinstall Expression Blend...again.
If those aren't deal breakers for you, then take a minute to read ScottGu's post and follow the download link to grab all of the new bits. For everyone else that would prefer to wait for more stable bits, look for the final release of these service packs "this summer."