Microsoft have announced that the VS11 Beta will ship soon.
What does VS11 Need to Get Right?
The biggest complaint about VS2010 has been the performance (e.g. builds on the UI thread). This is the single biggest thing that VS11 needs to achieve is better performance. Adding an SSD drive to your machine to get decent performance out of VS2010, should not be a requirement for developers.
The New UI
Some commenters seem to like the new UI. Whilst it is superficially less distracting, the use of capital letters in the titles of the docking panels is awful: just searching for why capitals are bad gives this link, amongst many others.
It seems that the Windows 8 split personality has spread to Visual Studio: is it Metro, or is it Windows? I can’t imagine anyone doing any serious development on a Windows tablet using the touch-screen keyboard. So it is a Windows application, and should continue to look and feel like one.
Third party plugins such as Code Rush, and Resharper, use colour to great effect when animating refactorings, code layout, searching and so on; even Visual Studio’s built in syntax highlighting does the same: it uses colour! By turning the rest of the UI into monochrome, this will make things look odd, in my opinion.
The new icons, sorry, ‘glyphs’, are just ‘OK’. VS11 is, after all, an IDE, and you should spend most of your time typing (or debugging), rather than looking at icons.
Customization and the Keyboard to the Rescue
Until we actually get to use the beta, there’s not much else to say. However, like all previous versions of Visual Studio you can remove the toolbars, and create your own. In fact, this is how my VS2010 UI looks in daily usage:
If VS11 ships as-is, I can see that I will recreate quite a few toolbars by hand using text only for key commands.
Keyboard shortcuts are the most important thing for me, so the one huge plus point so far is that there is a ‘Quick Launch’ (Ctrl+Q) option. This is just the ‘Quick Access’ function from the Productivity Power Tools in VS2010.
One Edition and Pricing
With Apple charging next to nothing for XCode and only having ONE version, isn’t it about time Microsoft did the same? It is doubtful VS will ever be given away, but Microsoft should reconsider their pricing and marketing ‘strategy’ (whatever happened to Developers! Developers! Developers!). Please just release one version, and make things like ‘Team Foundation’ download-able plug-ins.
The best thing about VS11 is for C++ developers. The bulk of the C++11 spec is being shipped, along with a complete STL, and C++ AMP. In many cases, just recompiling the code under C++11 will result in faster executing code. For .NET programmers, the framework gets bumped to .NET 4.5, which seems to be a modest incremental release.
Some users are already mocking up improved Zune-style UIs on the Visual Studio UserVoice site. This:
shows that the new UI has lots of room for improvement.
And guess what the number 1 IDE request now is? Add some colour to the VS11 Beta.