When Visual Studio first appeared in early 1996, developers were told to expect a unified Integrated Development Environment (IDE) in a future release that negate the need to learn different environments for each tool. But the release of Visual Studio 6.0 this Fall did little to solve this problem; in fact, there are more different environments this time around then there were in the first version. But Microsoft has a plan to end the confusion with the release of Visual Studio 7.0, due in late 1999. VS 7.0 will feature an enhanced version the Visual Studio environment now used by Visual InterDev and Visual J++ that wil be shared by all components, including Visual C++, Visual Basic and Visual FoxPro.
For Visual Studio 6.0, we tried to get all the different Visual Studio development teams to share as much source code as possible," says Michael Halcoussis,manager of the Visual Studio environment team. "There are a lot of areas where we worked with all the teams to create a more consistent product. We tried to act as a guiding force to ensure consistent object models, internationalization, accessibility, and other features that needed to be more uniform across Visual Studio. Moving forward, you can expect that we’ll continue focusing on bringing the tools closer together."
How much closer remains to be seen: The individual product teams within Visual Studio tend to operate as their own little fiefdoms.
"When we met with each Visual Studio development team to convince them of the need to make their tool consistent with all our other tools, each team had different ideas on how they thought this should work," he says. "We had a lot of conversations about the best way to ensure consistency. Each team felt one way was better for their users, even though that may not have been the best way for our other users."
But even though most of the products in Visual Studio 6.0 features different IDEs, an attempt was made to get them closer together to prepare for the next release.
"We actually used the source code from the Visual Basic IDE to create the new IDE for Visual J++ 6.0 and Visual InterDev 6.0. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to fold the new IDE back into Visual Basic 6.0. But because the source code came from the same place, the IDEs at least seem very similar," Halcoussis says. "The new editor in Visual J++ 6.0 and Visual InterDev 6.0 is our core common editor. Both Visual Basic and Visual C++ will use it in the future."
"For the next release, we’re focused on bringing all the tools even closer together. The next version of Visual Studio will share more features, making it easier for developers to jump from one language to another as they build their solutions," he says