By Jonathan Goodyear
It was a busy month for new Beta releases from Microsoft. Rather than concentrate on one in particular, I ll give you a rundown of what s new on the Web development front.
First up is Beta 1 of the Web Deployment Tool, which also has a Go Live license (http://blogs.iis.net/msdeploy/archive/2008/05/13/web-deployment-tool-beta-1-go-live-just-released.aspx). The Web Deployment Tool has several functions. It provides a way to configure (using XML files) automated remote deployments of Web sites from desktops to servers or between servers. It can be used to perform backups and restores of Web sites, as well as to migrate Web sites from IIS6 to IIS7. Not only is content migrated, but so also are any configuration settings, SSL certificates, GAC assemblies, registry keys, etc. I especially like the what if flag, which enables you to inspect what is going to happen with a deployment BEFORE you actually do it. This is an excellent tool that is very much needed especially in multiple Web server environments.
Microsoft this month also released Beta 1 of Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/vstudio/products/cc533447.aspx). It contains several new features that can be leveraged by Web developers. One of these is Dynamic Data, which is primarily a scaffolding engine to automate the creation of admin-style data entry pages for a specified database schema. It has a lot of promising features, like the ability to intelligently handle foreign key relationships (by adding dropdowns with descriptions), UI templating, and some validation options. As with other programming environments that have scaffolding frameworks (e.g., Ruby on Rails), these pages will typically not be used in a production environment. However, they give you a good starting point to help you do data entry while you are building out a new Web application.
Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 (Beta 1) also includes the new Routing engine used in the upcoming MVC Framework. It was required to be released early because the aforementioned Dynamic Data leverages it, as well. There are some AJAX improvements (most notably, the Back/Forward button history support), but one thing I found very interesting is the re-introduction of the templates, IntelliSense, and debugging support for Classic ASP. These features had not been released with Visual Studio 2005 or 2008, but there apparently were quite a few requests to bring it back. It just goes to show you that it s not so easy to turn the page on older technologies (VB6, anyone?).
A great sign for the hobbyist development crowd is the introduction of class library and Web application project support in Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition. This enhancement will enable a wider audience to be able to share class libraries and adhere to modern best practices for Web development. It also will enable them to build applications using Microsoft s Model View Controller (MVC) Framework (http://www.aspnetpro.com/opinion/2008/01/asp200801jg_o/asp200801jg_o.asp).
All told, it s been a great month for Microsoft technology. It s good to see that Microsoft is not only introducing some great new technology, but also making some much needed improvements and enhancements to Visual Studio. I look forward to their formal RTM in a few months.
Jonathan Goodyear is president of ASPSOFT (http:// www.aspsoft.com), an Internet consulting firm based in Orlando, FL. Jonathan is Microsoft Regional Director for Florida, an ASP.NET MVP, a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD), and co-author of ASP.NET 2.0 MVP Hacks (Wrox). Jonathan also is a contributing editor for asp.netPRO. E-mail him at mailto: [email protected] or through his angryCoder eZine at http:// www.angryCoder.com.