Visual Studio integration
We are not only busy with developing new version but also with preparing new concepts and feature specifications for the version which will come after that. If you don't want to edit the layouts, CSS, etc. in textboxes anymore, read further, you will be pretty excited ...
Once again, I am coming with new information for you. You probably already know that we visited Microsoft developer's conference about Visual Studio integration and that we are one of not many members of Microsoft Visual Studio Integration
Program partners so we stayed for a following three days to get more information than standard programmers get.
I must say we are under NDA about all new features and marketing so don't expect here any specific information that is currently not public and please don't ask me about the details, because I cannot tell you anyway. This article is more about what we are about to do with this knowledge and what can you expect from us in the future. It will be similar like my other posts, giving you the reasons why what we do is good for you and why it was wise to choose Kentico CMS over other CMS
So, what have we learned?
There were many topics regarding the Visual Studio extensibility on the conference, actually, there were two main threads from morning to late afternoon with many talks. We were focusing mainly on editor focused topics to get as much information as we could, learning how VS IDE works, how to communicate with it properly and how to bind our code to its structure and controls, and how to deploy packages. I must say that the basic concept of VS integration is very well done, Microsoft developers did a really great job and all the interfaces are carefully prepared. Unfortunately you cannot find a lot of the most important information on the internet, that is why we needed to get these directly from the source.
New Visual Studio features
The new Visual Studio focuses on the extensibility more than previous versions and brings many improvements which are very promising. Its release and other relevant things will be similar to release of Visual Studio 2008, I cannot tell you any details here but most of the developers who know current version are very familiar with this. I can tell you that there won't be anything groundbreaking for you, web developers, they are mostly improving current functionality. However, there will be some new features which advanced users may like. As usually, the new version will bring much better performance than the previous one. I am not sure what information is currently publicly available but all the necessary information should be available when the CTP version is released. Enough about VS now.
What can you expect?
Currently, we have just simple preview of our Kentico CMS Designer package (a.k.a. "Edit all virtual objects from Visual Studio and be happy"). With all new knowledge we will integrate this package further, allowing you to see the objects directly in your solution. We haven't decided yet if the package will be connected to the web site database directly or through the web service, and the architecture may change a little bit so I will not describe it here. What matters to you is what are the features you may expect with this new package, which would be:
Automatic inclusion of the virtual objects to your Solution structure
The ability to edit the site CSS stylesheet from Visual Studio, with CSS Intellisense
The ability to edit all ASPX code (such as all layouts, transformations, etc.) from Visual Studio with standard Intellisense
Intellisense for our libraries and methods when editing the ASPX code
The ability to edit SQL queries with Visual Studio query editor
Automatic update to the project database when you save the code, just like it was a normal, physical file
Opening the objects in Visual Studio directly from the administration interface
Here is our current preview:
It is far from the solution integration but it works at the moment, it is just technology preview to see how we are able to integrate.
Will you need Visual Studio license?
The VS packages can be build either with integrated (in Visual Studio) or isolated (just with Visual Studio framework) mode, so even for those who don't have a Visual Studio license, we will be able to provide a solution which will work without license. Isolated mode uses the VS Shell interface and supports web development. We are planning to implement both if possible. Unfortunately the Shell (non-licensed) version does not support C# and VB languages, so the ones of you who won't have Visual Studio will have only ASPX Intellisense but not the C# / VB one.
I am pretty sure that you would like to know when this all will be available. As usual, we are very busy, so the exact time plan wasn't created yet, but we assume we could release the integration package in about 6 months from now. Watch our roadmap, it should be there as soon as we decide that the package can be in the next version. For now, we must first finish our new community features.
Well, see you at my next post ...