We just released a Community Tech Preview download of Visual Studio Orcas Express, the next version of Visual Studio Express. Kudos to Doug for arguably the coolest beta page on MSDN ever (pictured above)

 

We need your feedback

As John mentions in his post, the big things we need feedback on are the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) designer and the DLINQ designer.  In addition we want feedback on meta questions

 

Meta Question - Compatibility vs Features for Express

Another big question I'd love feedback on is how we handle Express going forward. Express is all about simplicity and the more decisions you provide to users, the harder it is for them to understand what to do.

 

Presentation Technology Choices

For the CTP of VB and C# Orcas Express, we chose the third option and support both WPF and Windows Forms. By supporting both, it's caused our download size to go up and the paradox of choice makes Express more complicated than previously when there was only once choice before. Our team has had a lot of debate and the options available are:

  • Support just Windows Forms - Good: This keeps the size small and Windows Forms has great support for data and backwards compatibility. Bad is that WPF is much easier for building more attractive and interactive applications like games and people may think Express doesn't support the newest, coolest technology.
  • Support just WPF - Good: keeps the size small and since the 2005 Express versions will continue to be on the Web for download, you can use Orcas for WPF and use 2005 for Windows Forms. Bad is that Windows Forms has a much more robust feature set for building form applications and better data support.
  • Support both WPF and Windows Forms - Good: makes everyone happy by providing the choice between features, Bad is that the size is larger and it can be confusing when to use which and what features are supported depending on what presentation technology you chose.

VWD Orcas has only one presentation technology so this isn't an issue and C++ does not support WPF so the choices here are just for VB and C#.

 

Data Technology Choices

Similarly on the data side of VB and C# Orcas Express, we chose the third option

  • Support just SQL Server Express - Good: Existing apps can migrate forward and you get DLinq+Designer and ADO.NET support with SQL Server Express. Bad is that SQL Server Express is large (80MB) and needs to run as a service. SQL CE is specifically designed to be a great desktop database.
  • Support just SQL Server Compact Edition - Good: Tiny size, designed to be a desktop database, copy/paste deployment, access-like experience, ADO.NET Design support. Bad is that SQL CE does not work with DLinq+Designer.
  • Support both SQL Server Express and SQL Compact Edition - Good:makes everyone happy by providing the choice between features, bad is that the size is larger and the features supported depend on what database you use.

 

VWD Orcas has only one data technology choice, SQL Server Express, as SQL CE is built and designed for desktop apps while the C++ Express team has explicitly decided to only support SQL Server Express instead of SQL CE.

 

Questions for You

  1. Which of the presentation/data choices would you have picked?
  2. Would you be okay if new versions of Express only supported new APIs, so long as there was an Express product also available for the previous APIs  (ex VB 2005 for Windows Forms instead of VB Orcas for Windows Forms)?
  3. Is it more important to support the latest and greatest API's like WPF and LINQ even though they may be more complex and not have as rich tools support than existing APIs like ADO.NET and Windows Forms?