Today we shipped Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5. You can download the final release using one of the links below:
If you are a MSDN subscriber, you can download your copy from the MSDN subscription site (note: some of the builds are just finishing being uploaded now – so check back later during the day if you don’t see it yet).
If you are a non-MSDN subscriber, you can download a 90-day free trial edition of Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite here. A 90-day trial edition of Visual Studio 2008 Professional (which will be a slightly smaller download) will be available next week. A 90-day free trial edition of Team Foundation Server can also be downloaded here.
If you want to use the free Visual Studio 2008 Express editions (which are much smaller and totally free), you can download them here.
If you want to just install the .NET Framework 3.5 runtime, you can download it here.
Quick Tour of Some of the New Features
Visual Studio 2008 and .NET 3.5 contain a ton of new functionality and improvements. Below are links to blog posts I’ve done myself as well as links to videos you can watch to learn more about it:
VS 2008 Multi-Targeting Support
VS 2008 enables you to build applications that target multiple versions of the .NET Framework. This means you can use VS 2008 to open, edit and build existing .NET 2.0 and ASP.NET 2.0 applications (including ASP.NET 2.0 applications using ASP.NET AJAX 1.0), and continue to deploy these application on .NET 2.0 machines. You can learn more about how this works from my blog post here:
.NET 3.5 has ASP.NET AJAX built-in (no separate download required). In addition to including all of the features in ASP.NET AJAX 1.0, ASP.NET 3.5 also now includes richer support for UpdatePanels integrating with WebParts, ASP.NET AJAX integration with controls like <asp:menu> and <asp:treeview>, WCF support for JSON, and many other AJAX improvements.
- VS 2008 ASP.NET AJAX Control Extender Support
You can watch some videos that discuss ASP.NET AJAX and Visual Studio 2008 support for it here.
I also highly recommend the excellent ASP.NET AJAX in Action book to learn more about ASP.NET AJAX (both client-side and server-side).
VS 2008 Web Designer and CSS Support
VS 2008 and Visual Web Developer 2008 Express includes a significantly improved HTML web designer (the same one that ships with Expression Web). This delivers support for split-view editing, nested master pages, and great CSS integration. Below are some articles I’ve written that discuss this more:
- VS 2008 Web Designer and CSS Support
- VS 2008 Nested Master Page Support
- VS 2008 Vertical Split View Support
ASP.NET 3.5 also has a new <asp:ListView> control that provides the ability to perform rich data scenarios with total control over the markup. It works nicely with the new CSS support in VS 2008. You can learn more about it from my article here:
You can watch some videos that discuss the new Visual Studio 2008 web designer features and the new ListView/DataPager controls here.
Language Improvements and LINQ
The new VB and C# compilers in VS 2008 deliver significant improvements to the languages. Both add functional programming concepts that enable you to write cleaner, terser, and more expressive code. These features also enable a new programming model we call LINQ (language integrated query) that makes querying and working with data a first-class programming concept with .NET.
Below are some of the articles I’ve written that explore these new language features using C#:
- Automatic Properties, Object Initializer and Collection Initializers
- Extension Methods
- Lambda Expressions
- Query Syntax
- Anonymous Types
Here are a few additional blog posts I’ve written that show off some of the new VS 2008 code editing support and some cool ways to use these new language features:
- VS 2008 Code Editing Features
- Tip/Trick: Building a ToJson() Extension Method using .NET 3.5
- The C# ?? null coalescing operator (and using it with LINQ)
- Using LINQ to XML (and how to build a custom RSS Feed Reader with it)
The Visual Basic team has also created some great free videos that cover LINQ. You can watch them here.
Data Access Improvements with LINQ to SQL
LINQ to SQL is a built-in OR/M (object relational mapper) in .NET 3.5. It enables you to model relational databases using a .NET object model. You can then query the database using LINQ, as well as update/insert/delete data from it. LINQ to SQL fully supports transactions, views, and stored procedures. It also provides an easy way to integrate business logic and validation rules into your data model. Below are some of the articles I’ve written that explore how to use it:
- Part 1: Introduction to LINQ to SQL
- Part 2: Defining our Data Model Classes
- Part 3: Querying our Database
- Part 4: Updating our Database
- Part 5: Binding UI using the ASP:LinqDataSource Control
- Part 6: Retrieving Data Using Stored Procedures
- Part 7: Updating our Database using Stored Procedures
- Part 8: Executing Custom SQL Expressions
- Part 9: Using a Custom LINQ Expression with the <asp:LinqDataSource> control
I think you’ll find that LINQ and LINQ to SQL makes it much easier to build much cleaner data models, and write much cleaner data code. I’ll be adding more posts to my LINQ to SQL series in the weeks and months ahead (sorry for the delay in finishing them earlier – so much to-do and so little time to-do it all!).
Scott Stanfield is also working on creating some great LINQ to SQL videos for the www.asp.net site based on my article series above (all videos are in both VB and C#). You can watch the first 4 videos in this series here.
Browsing the .NET Framework Library Source using Visual Studio
As I blogged a few weeks ago, we will be releasing a reference version of the .NET Framework library source code as part of this release. Visual Studio 2008 has built-in debugger support to automatically step-into and debug this code on demand (VS 2008 can pull down the source for the appropriate .NET Framework library file automatically for you).
We are deploying the source servers to enable this right now, and will be publishing the steps to turn this feature on in the next few weeks.
Lots of other improvements
The list above is only a small set of the improvements coming. For client development VS 2008 includes WPF designer and project support. ClickOnce and WPF XBAPs now work with FireFox. WinForms and WPF projects can also now use the ASP.NET Application Services (Membership, Roles, Profile) for roaming user data.
Office development is much richer – including support for integrating with the Office 2007 ribbon, and with Outlook. Visual Studio Tools for Office support is also now built-into Visual Studio (you no longer need to buy a separate product).
New WCF and Workflow projects and designers are now included in VS 2008. Unit testing support is now much faster and included in VS Professional (and no longer just VSTS). Continuous Integration support is now built-in with TFS. AJAX web testing (unit and load) is now supported in the VS Test SKU. And there is much, much more…
People often ask me for suggestions on how best to upgrade from previous betas of Visual Studio 2008. In general I’d recommend uninstalling the Beta2 bits explicitly. As part of this you should uninstall Visual Studio 2008 Beta2, .NET Framework Beta2, as well as the Visual Studio Web Authoring Component (these are all separate installs and need to be uninstalled separately). I then usually recommend rebooting the machine after uninstalling just to make sure everything is clean before you kick off the new install. You can then install the final release of VS 2008 and .NET 3.5 on the machine.
Once installed, I usually recommend explicitly running the Tools->Import and Export Settings menu option, choosing the “Reset Settings” option, and then re-pick your preferred profile. This helps ensure that older settings from the Beta2 release are no longer around (and sometimes seems to help with performance).
Note that VS 2008 runs side-by-side with VS 2005 – so it is totally fine to have both on the same machine (you will not have any problems with them on the same box).
Silverlight Tools and VS Web Deployment Project Add-Ins
Two popular add-ins to Visual Studio are not yet available to download for the final VS 2008 release. These are the Silverlight 1.1 Tools Alpha for Visual Studio and the Web Deployment Project add-in for Visual Studio. Our hope is to post updates to both of them to work with the final VS 2008 release in the next two weeks. If you are doing Silverlight 1.1 development using VS 2008 Beta2 you’ll want to stick with with VS 2008 Beta2 until this updated Silverlight Tools Add-In is available.
Hope this helps,