MSDN Event – Visual Studio 2005

It was pretty good. Basically what I expected it to be, which was an overview of the new features available in Visual Studio 2005. One of the biggest advancements seems to be better data access, and more flexibility with how data is presented and bound to controls.

The DataSource wizard has been expanded too. You can now specify an external URL to fetch an XML file for a datasource, that was pretty neat. I’m not sure, but it also seemed that all the “auto-generated” connection strings were maintained in the web.config file auto-magically, even though the presenter was generating a new datasource on each page. There’s also a way to specify a stored procedure to use as the datasource. If this option is chosen, Visual Studio will read the parameters required and prompt you for where to get them (querystring, control, object, etc). Also pretty cool.

The other major feature is something called master pages which lets you specify a template-file for the entire site and control the layout with that file instead of having to keep track of includes all over the place. There’s also “skin” support that lets you define how each control should appear (i.e. all calendar controls should have a grey background, 12 pixel font, etc…). Unfortunately, the skin support doesn’t extend to regular HTML controls, so you can’t use it for things like an H1 tag…I don’t understand why not. This means that CSS is still required for these.

It will also validate the HTML for a particular browser, and will do it for section 508 compatibility if that’s required.

They didn’t cover much about Team System, which I was interested in, but they did give us a DVD of Team Foundation Server that we can install to check out the new features. They also gave us a DVD with all the presentation details on it, you are welcome to borrow mine if you want.