Microsoft has a bunch of news for developers: a simplified product lineup and pricing options for its next generation of developer tools this week, announcing Visual Studio 2010 and the .NET Framework 4.0 and new features of Visual Studio for collaborative dotnet application development, modeling, and debugging. The official launch of the products scheduled for March 22, 2010, related benefits for MSDN subscribers, and improvements to the actual MSDN website. Redmond insisted on making all of these announcements on the same day, and while we think that will just lead to lots of confusion, we’re still going to try to break it down for you as coherently as possible.

One of the main goals with the next generation of Microsoft’s development platform will be to “democratize application life cycle management” by making it easier for developers, database pros, architects, and testers to work together in Visual Studio Team System 2010, code-named “Rosario,”. Likely two of the biggest feature sets in Visual Studio 2010 will be modeling and testing.

A new tool in Visual Studio 2010 will, as the developers write code, automatically show what unit tests developers should run to validate that code. Another tool will show the developer a new level of detailed information on any bugs in the code after tests fail.

In Visual Studio 2010, Microsoft also will introduce a feature it likens to an airplane’s black box. While running a test of an application, a “black box” records the state of the machine and the application. That way, a tester can look at a debug log running alongside a video replay of the application that was under test and dive into all layers of the computing stack to see where a bug might have occurred.

Visual Studio Team System 2010 will include some pieces of Microsoft’s “Oslo” modeling strategy. The Architecture Explorer will allow architects and developers to build, customize, and see an architectural diagram of an application and enforce architectural consistency on builds of a piece of software. The software will support the Object Management Group’s Unified Modeling Language and domain-specific languages.

Other new features in Visual Studio Team System 2010 will include streamlined installation and configuration processes, new features to encourage agile development techniques like including an Excel workbook that can hook up to the back-end Team Foundation Server repository, and better build management.

Microsoft intends to roll out its software development plans in five stages. After talking about application life cycle management, the next phase will be about improvements in the .NET Framework, especially in Windows Workflow and Windows Communication Foundation, which are two critical pieces of Microsoft’s service-oriented architecture strategy. After that, developers should expect more details about Visual Studio 2010 itself, how companies can build better departmental apps with the next generation of Microsoft development software, and how the .NET Framework and Visual Studio will “enable emerging trends” in software development.

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