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Visual Studio 2010 and .NET FX 4 Beta Drops

The Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4 Beta 1 bits are available to MSDN subscribers today. A public beta is scheduled for release Wednesday.

"We have more work to do in terms of finishing up the feature work for some of the scenarios and getting to the right levels of quality and performance, but we have made enough progress that we wanted to start getting your feedback." said S. "Soma" Somasegar, Microsoft's senior vice president of the Developer Division, in his blog earlier today.

The updated framework offers maturing class libraries, new Parallel Extensions and an updated Common Language Runtime. The .NET 4 CLR is the first major upgrade to the core platform since .NET 2.0, which shipped with Visual Studio 2005.

Visual Studio 2010 debuts a revamped editor, UI and shell built using Microsoft's Windows Presentation Foundation 4.0. Based on early developer feedback, Microsoft has already made some modifications to the new editor. Some changes in Beta 1 include getting rid of the use of triangles, which appeared in the margins in the editor's outlining mode, to collapse or expand code blocks, according to a blog post last week by Jason Zander, the general manager of Visual Studio in Microsoft's Developer Division.

IDE performance is another concern that Microsoft is working to address, Zander said: "For Beta 1 we are making progress on performance but it is not yet where I want it to be. For example the VB/Windows Forms application is actually doing pretty well while the VB/ASP.NET application is slower than VS2008 (similar with C#)."

Visual Studio 2010 beefs up its tooling for Office, SharePoint, Windows 7, C++, Web and Silverlight development. Visual Studio 2010 Team System is a major upgrade that offers a new Architectural Explorer, built-in UML support, and a more complete debugging and test solution.

Beta 1 is also expected to offer the first look at Entity Framework version 2, which adds support for n-tier templates, Plain Old CLR Objects (POCO) and persistence ignorance, among other enhancements.

In .NET 3.5, Microsoft introduced Language Integrated Query and several providers, including LINQ to SQL, which offered a lightweight programming model against SQL Server.

"LINQ is pretty well cast," said Roger Jennings, principal of OakLeaf Systems. "People just use it now as a matter of course--you are dealing with collections almost all the time and it makes dealing with them so much simpler. You can tell LINQ is a success because so many third parties are LINQ-enabling their products."

.NET 3.5 SP1 introduced the ADO.NET Entity Framework, ADO.NET Data Services (which is a REST framework) and LINQ to Entities. Despite the popularity of LINQ to SQL, Microsoft is focusing its efforts on its higher-end O/RM framework. When some developers realized this strategy, many were caught off guard because LINQ to SQL had only been out for about a year.

"Microsoft is certainly moving in a direction that addresses a lot of people doing development that is not the traditional ADO.NET drag-and-drop and let a designer do everything for you, and I think that's important," said Bill Wagner, founder of SRT Solutions. Wagner was among the developers who expressed concern about the lack of investment in LINQ to SQL. After interacting with the Microsoft ADO.NET team, he now believes that they are working to bring comparable features to EF.

Maturing libraries and evolving tooling may best describe a lot of the functionality in the IDE and framework. "We've had revs of the .NET Framework in the past where we have introduced a lot of new functionality--components that no one has ever seen before--that are brand-new into the framework," said Steven Martin, senior director of developer platform product management at Microsoft.

".NET 4 is more about the maturity of the existing capabilities that we have," he said. "I would encourage developers to take a look at the apps they are building, understand clearly the components on which they are taking dependencies, and where they could get value out of the updates to the components that we're shipping as a part of .NET 4."

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