Microsoft chairman Bill Gates introduced a couple of new features for the next version of Visual Studio Monday during his TechEd keynote address, including the first-ever demonstration of a new technology dubbed RAD (Rapid Application Development) for the Server. Visual Studio product manager Dave Mendlen said that Visual Studio 7 would be "available in alpha this summer, in beta this fall, and we'll ship it when it's ready," though the tools suite is expected to ship in early 2001. It will feature visual drag-and-drop tools for dynamic Web application creation, integration with XML and SOAP technologies, and an open architecture that will allow its applications to integrate with other applications running on any platform.
The new server-side RAD features in Visual Studio 7 will allow developers to create Web applications using the same visual paradigm employed by today by Visual Basic developers creating desktop applications. Using the next version of Visual Basic, developers will be able to drag and drop reusable code components to a create a visual canvas, set properties for server objects embedded in the canvas, and then double-click them to write code. But developers won't need to wait for Visual Studio 7 to take advantage of this feature: Gates announced that the SOAP Toolkit that was made available today would enable these features in Visual Basic 6. For more information and the 1.23 MB Toolkit download, please visit the MSDN Web site