Developers Get a Peek at Visual Studio 7.0

SAN FRANCISCO (02/18/2000) - Microsoft Corp. laid out its long-awaited plans for a Web-friendly Visual Studio 7.0 this week and found a receptive audience among the developers at the Visual Basic Insiders Technical Summit here.

Microsoft aims to enable the software-development suite to create Web forms from Active Server Pages and add remote procedure calls for invoking Web services from other Web sites. It will also add code functions to boost performance.

The tool set will ship by year's end, officials said.

Mark Driver, an analyst at Gartner Group Inc. in Stamford, Conn., said the planned enhancements to Visual Studio should make it easier for Visual Basic (VB) programmers to create better Web applications.

He added that the new functions may help keep developers from moving to Java-based development tools, such as SilverStream Software Inc.'s Designer and Progress Software Corp.'s Apptivity.

Microsoft extended the life of VB several years, Driver said. "They avoided being labeled a legacy client/server tool."

Don Folsen, CIO at Inc., a subsidiary of Getty Images Inc. in Seattle, said the forthcoming Web forms will be easier to update and manage because HTML and VBScript will no longer be mixed together on the same form. "VBScript is a good tool, but when you have a large Web site with a lot of code and Active Server Pages, it's difficult to maintain it effectively, because script is all over the place," Folsen said.

With Visual Studio 7.0, Microsoft wants to give VB programmers the tools to move into Web development. "It's something that integrates well with our existing talents," said Rodney Bergren, technology coordinator at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa. He said new capabilities will let developers without a great deal of technical skill create valuable Web applications.

The enhancements include support for free threading, code inheritance, overloading and polymorphism.

Eric Glover, a computer specialist at the Austin, Texas, office of the U.S.

Department of Veteran Affairs, said adding inheritance - the ability of one class of objects to inherit properties from a higher class - is important. "VB does not have true inheritance; it just simulates it now," Glover said.

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