Microsoft announced the roadmap for the next 3 Visual Studio releases (Microsoft Developer Tools Roadmap 2003-2005).

As Microsoft recently released Visual Studio 2003 and a beta for Microsoft Visual Studio Tools For Office, the next big release of the development environment (codenamed Whidbey) will be accompanied with the next version of SQL Server (codenamed Yukon). As Microsoft says, this Visual Studio release will be minor upgrade – comparable with the upgrade from VS.NET to VS.NET 2003 -, but will have some nice, long awaited features.

One of these is the return of the ‘Edit and Continue’ function that allows developers to edit their code while debugging and continue with the edited code without the need to recompile (as in Visual Basic 6). Also a new release of the .NET Framework will released, but that was as expected. According to Microsoft, there will be great enhancements for Windows client programmers to give them easier access to system resources as keyboards, mice, network, etc… Another nice feature will be some sort of built-in spellingchecker which corrects the author if he misspells common coding constructs.

Microsoft also promised improvements to the .NET Compact Framework that allow for the creation of applications for the new versions of Pocket PC; Windows CE and SmartPhones.

In the ASP.NET area, Microsoft will introduce some new web controls as there will be the GridView and DetailsView which allow Access-like master-detail forms. More promising will be the introduction of the Master Pages, which allow developers to create page templates that contain headers, footers, controls and menu bars, so that when a page inherits from a Master Page, it automatically inherits the look and feel and when the developer wants to change the visual layout, he only needs to edit the Master Page. Looks promising.

What the themes and skins will be, I’m not sure as Microsoft has attempted to introduce skinning and theming in lots of others applications and Windows versions, without really meeting the expectations.

The 2005 release is still somewhat vague, it’s still 2 years ahead if Microsoft releases as planned 🙂 but the key here is the release of the next Windows operating system (cedenamed Longhorn) and features elements as managed interfaces, enhanced UI features, and other new capabilities of Longhorn. These include the Longhorn trustworthy computing and security model, new application model, improved communication and collaboration, integrated data storage, and innovations in presentation and media, as Microsoft says.