Microsoft looks forward to Orcas, so do I. Here’s why.

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I’m no fan of Visual Studio 2005. For me, it feels bloated. Start with the Start page. I appreciate what it’s trying to do, but come on, I have a browser for browsing. Likewise, I must need help, because I finally gave up trying to figure out how to best configure the help on the several different machines I develop on. Again, I realize the Visual Studio team is trying to give me flexibility, but ugh. And then there’s the sluggishness and my seemingly instinctive ability to configure the UI so it flickers like mad when I program. I know. I know. If I spend a couple minutes I can get the UI to not flicker. I don’t. I’m lazy–scratch that. I’m too busy working. I just don’t want to spend time getting the tool just right and then do the same on this other machine I use and then this other and you get it. I guess this is partly a problem of my own creation. I use too many machines. My programming is a little bit here and a little bit there. I often have two or three projects open at once. My machines are getting old. Too slow for the new software. And my expectations are too high.

Don’t get me wrong. There are some things I really like about VS 2005. The refactoring in C# is nice. It’s a good start. In fact, for C# development it’s not all that bad. It is annoying as all get out that I can’t modify the code when debugging all of the time, but I manage to survive. I’m sure if I think about it, there are some more things I like about Visual Studio 2005 over its predecessors. Thinking…

Actually, part of the problem I have is that I’m programming with Microsoft’s latest technologies. So I’m using beta software. I know better than to get up tight about beta stuff, but I guess this demonstrates I’m human. No source code generator here. One of the biggest problems? Visual Studio 2005 crashes. Lots. Sometimes it does an amazing job auto-recovering. Simply amazing. It’s almost like the VS2005 team knew the app would tend to crash and went out of their way to do a great job of recovering your work state. 🙂 I presume most of the crashing is due to beta stuff I have in my dev environment. I do know of the four machines we use for development here, all crash at least one every other day. Sometimes more often. It gets old.

Beta software also very likely contributes to the sluggishness in VS2005. Yeah, I shouldn’t complain. Take WPF development, for instance. The not-yet-ready support in VS2005 for WPF is unbelievably slow. And it’s just not the performance, which is awefull. I just don’t use it. I’ll use Blend. I’ll hand code. I’ve spent a little time trying to figure out why. That’s probably best left to another post. I hope the Visual Studio team is doing some similar thinking. Looks to me like there is some code worth dead-endng.

With this background, I bet you can see why I’m very interested in hearing about any developer tool announcements at Mix07 next week. I’m ready for a little less pain.

The way I look at it is that developing with Microsoft’s latest technologies is in flux right now. That’s understandable. The core technologies themselves are still being baked. Silverlight hasn’t even been officially released, for instance. And quite frankly, we’re all learning too. The language teams. The tool builders. The programmers. The designers.

I do think the overall language direction is a good one. It’s just…..I wish, I wanna, I need. You understand? Right?