First look: Visual Studio 11 beta leaner, meaner for Metro

Metro-style development support and monochrome obsession are featured in Microsoft's all-encompassing Windows development tool

By Tim Anderson, InfoWorld |  Development

Now with version 11, Microsoft has given Visual Studio a Metro makeover in keeping with the new style of Windows, though the IDE remains of course a desktop application. The designers have also picked a largely monochrome color scheme, apparently to showcase the color in the apps themselves, a move that has not gone down well with developers. The top two complaints in the official feedback forum are to bring back color toolbars and to abandon all-caps for the toolbox titles. Though they're merely cosmetic, the complaints are valid and Microsoft has marked the issue as "under review." Performance of the beta IDE is good and that matters more.

Visual Studio 11: Metro substanceBehind its gray face Visual Studio 11 packs in a ton of new features. Metro development is the most obvious, and considering that the platform is new in Windows 8, the developer tools are impressive. The user interface for Metro-style apps is designed either in XAML, for .Net or native code, or with HTML and CSS. XAML is the declarative layout language also used by WPF and Silverlight, and Visual Studio includes a two-way editor so that you can switch seamlessly between code editing and the visual designer. There is no visual designer for Metro HTML apps, but there is strong IntelliSense (pop-up code hints) for JavaScript and CSS. Microsoft offers a companion design tool, called Expression Blend, that has a visual designer for both XAML and HTML; it can also open and save Visual Studio projects.

Developers can debug Metro-style apps in several ways. You can run the app on your local machine, which works well if you have two or more displays, or on a remote machine or within a Metro simulator, which you will likely prefer if you have only one display. The simulator is intriguing in that it is actually a remote desktop session into your own machine. As a result, you can run any Metro app within a window on your desktop.

Once your Metro app is complete, you can use the new Store menu to create a developer account, capture screenshots, and create and upload an app package to Windows Store. Integrating all this into the IDE should make publishing apps easy and smooth for developers, though there is still an approval process to go through.


Originally published on InfoWorld |  Click here to read the original story.
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