Microsoft Corporation will take almost another year to deliver it, but Visual Basic 7.0 will ship next year in a brand new user interface, the Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE) now used by Visual C++ and Visual InterDev. The long-standing plan to move all of the Visual Studio products into a single shell is finally happening. Moreover, when VB 7 does ship in late 2000, along with a new version of the Visual Studio suite of development languages, it will be accompanied by SQL Server 7.5, code-named "Shiloh," and a host of new XML tools, some of which are being rolled out separately as we speak.
"Tight integration" is the rule for Visual Studio 7: With all of its major applications hosted in the same environment, it will be much easier to create multi-project solutions, each of which is created in a different language. When an HTML or ASP file is selected, for example, Visual InterDev's menus and toolbars will populate the IDE. But a Visual Basic code component will bring up VB's tools, right in the same window. It's an obvious and compelling upgrade for developers that need to harness the power of multiple tools to create what Microsoft calls "Windows DNA applications": programs that run in Windows and across the Web using a combination of Windows and Web technologies. In all of the Visual Studio tools, a next generation Web tool will finally create WYSIWYG Web pages using a drag and drop technology similar to that used by Visual Basic forms.
Of course, we've got a long way to go before Visual Basic 7 and Visual Studio 7 ship. In the meantime, Microsoft is going to release a host of tools designed for making Visual Studio 6 more applicable to Windows 2000 development. Some of these tools, such as the Windows 2000 Readiness Kit and the Windows 2000-compatible Windows Installer for Visual Studio are already available for free over the Web. Stay tuned to the Visual Studio Web site for more information