Transparency with the community and getting feedback from our customers have always been very important to our team. As such, we would like to share our current thinking on the roadmap for future releases of the Visual Studio 2008 SDK. We begin here with details about the upcoming releases, broken down by themes as how we see it now. Please note that details of these plans may be altered in the future.

The Visual Studio 2005 SDK 4.0 is the last version of the SDK for VS 2005. Upcoming versions of the VS SDK will be for Visual Studio 2008 (code named Orcas) and beyond. We just released the second version of the VS SDK for Orcas beta 1, see our blog post VS SDK Orcas June 2007 CTP released for details.

The VS SDK team uses agile project management with SCRUM methodology. We are releasing VS SDK CTPs very frequently, practically on a monthly basis. To make VS SDK development and improvement efforts consistent, we generally choose a theme for every release, - a major “tune”. Upcoming VS SDK for Orcas releases will have the following themes.

VS SDK Rules of the Road

We recently completed the final version of the VS SDK for Whidbey and we have already been working on VS SDK for Orcas. In fact, we released the first Orcas CTP at the same time with the last Whidbey RTM. We had to do some Orcas-specific infrastructure updates to make sure VS SDK builds and securely works with VS Orcas Infrastructure and content work that allows us to ship a successful Orcas SDK. This includes work related to compatibility with Windows Vista and Orcas, and compliance with latest Divisional standards. This is the “must-do” work that we have to do in order to ship. It includes the following product and relevant documentation updates:
  • ProjectAggregator fixes
  • Samples fixes and updates for Orcas
  • Updates relative to the Visual Studio 2008 Shell
  • Whidbey/Orcas Side-by-Side fixes
  • Test infrastructure work
  • VSCT Conversion

Increase Partner Success

These are features and contents that would make VS extensibility easier and increase return on investment. Included are a number VS SDK updates aimed to creation of new packages richer, easier, and more intuitive. Also included are new features for the platform, specifically the following product and relevant documentation updates are planned for this category:

  • Responding to the customer request, we have created the Toolbox Control Installer. In Orcas we are moving it to the platform. We are also moving the Project Aggregator2 that was added for use with managed project types to the platform too.
  • MPF (Managed Package Framework) Project System updates include:
    • Virtual Folders - MPF-based new projects should support items that are not part of a project.
    • .user files - For new projects created with MPF, there is no default support for .user files to be stored together with a project.
    • Nested projects – subprojects.
    • Upgrade - MPF needs to implement automatic upgrades for new project types and for flavor projects.
    • For runtime binding in regular (VC#) projects we have several kinds of references. Customers asked to support references to services for newly created project types (IronPython example needed).
  • One of the pieces of feedback we've gotten for a while now around creating a Visual Studio Package is the difficulty of working with the CTC format. This is the pseudo-C++ file that you use to specify what menus/groups/buttons/etc... your VSPackage provides or responds to. You also can specify things like default keyboard bindings and graphics for the commands. In Orcas we have converted to VSCT- The successor to CTC is an XML-based format called VSCT. Functionally, they are equivalent, but VSCT is (and will continue to become) far easier to work with than CTC. We are planning to introduce tooling around it.
  • During break mode, the IDE must be able to evaluate simple expressions involving several variables of your program. To accomplish this, the debug engine (DE) must be able to parse and evaluate an expression that is entered into one of the windows of the IDE. We need a better sample in the future to show how to do this.

Orcas Extensibility

Features and contents to support new Orcas extensibility points as well as existing extensibility points that currently have no coverage. Doing this will allow customers to integrate with and leverage Orcas extensibility points early, and create new business opportunities for them. Specifically, in this category we are planning the following product and documentation updates:

  • New samples for WPF, WCF, and LINQ, and multi-targeting.
  • Various project flavors 3rd party language support.
  • Investigate new sample areas to cover based on the customer feedback.

Light Up VSX Community

Features and contents that would help grow our VSX developer and VS SDK adoption. This includes making extensibility easier for VSX community scenarios, connecting VSX developers to the latest sample updates and VS SDK releases, encouraging VSX community participation, better guidance for VS SDK package creation, VSX team member blogs, webcasts etc. Specifically, the following product and documentation updates are planned in this category:

  • Add Visual Basic support to the code output wizards, add VB code samples, add VB sample code to the docs.
  • Add-in samples- need to illustrate add-ins extensibility with automation samples.
  • Run As Normal User (RANU) – the ability to develop a package without administrative privileges.
  • Setup & Deployment sample.
  • Simplify extensions development.
  • VS SDK browser updates.

Stay tuned for the more detailed plans for each of our upcoming CTP (Community Technology Preview) versions of the VS SDK. Send your comments, feedback and feature requests to vssdkfbk@microsoft.com or post a comment to this blog entry.