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Visual Studio 2010 – First Impressions / WPF UI

Visual Studio 2010 – First Impressions / WPF UI

I’ve been putting this off for a while now but have finally gotten around to checking out Visual Studio 2010. You can get everything you need from this page, Visual Studio 2010 Getting Started. From start to finish the install took nearly 2 hours to complete, that did also included having to update to XP Service Pack 3.

I’ve been looking forward to this as the Visual Studio team have build the new UI using WPF. This I think is a bit of a milestone in the life of WPF. For a long time there were many naysayers in reference to WPF. The first applications to really show WPF in action were Expression Blend (Sparkle) and Expression Design. Both really great apps from their respective v1’s in my opinion. Having said that I think the requirements for a UI like Visual Studio is stepping it all up a gear.  It feels very conservative in comparison to the flashy WPF ‘experiences’ we’ve become accustomed to seeing and rightly so.  This isn’t a design playground, it should be function over form imho.  (I hope that doesn’t start a flame war!).  All in all as you would expect it’s all very familiar ground.

The XAML code window and preview actually feel faster than in VS2008 which is really great news.  Over the course of the last couple of years I’ve moved from using Blend in most XAML editing tasks (it’s still king for some things), to using just the VS2008 designer.  It did the job OK but needed work, the work on the designer is most welcome!

This is completely unscientific and possibly a bit unfair on the app but it does feel less snappy on my dev machine, admittedly an old 2.2Ghz Athlon. It’s always a bit unfair to compare versions of applications like this as they have almost invariably increased in complexity at the same time.

The initial colour scheme is actually really nice, all the icons are the same, but there are just those little hints, that the underlying tech is WPF.  The UI feels and looks a lot more modular if that makes sense, the grid splitters are more discreet in appearance and there is a nice absence of millions of right-angles 😉

One thing I can’t help but mention is the intellisense. I initially thought it wasn’t working but then realised that it’s just working in different space-time. Inordinately slow on this box and I mean slow to the point of having to ignore it as it’s immediately annoying. At a class level when accessing a control from the code-behind it takes about 25 seconds to load the intellisense menu. There seem to be a lot of enhancements to the intellisense so it’s doing a lot more work in 2010, however that’s not much help if its this slow. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I also had ReSharper in use.

Despite that, within in 10 mins of first opening VS2010 I had made a functioning baby web browser using the WebBrowser control without a single hitch. All I can say is that it gets a thumbs up from me but I’m glad that I have a new dev machine on order!! Great to see WPF in action on a scale like this but I do hope some optimising goes on between now and 2010 RTM.

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