Visual Studio.NET 2005 Beta 1: The Lowdown
By Peter A. Bromberg, Ph.D.

Peter Bromberg

"We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur." -- Dan Quayle

Visual Studio.NET 2005 BETA 1 was released to the MSDN Subscriber community on July 1, 2004. Here are some of the latest quirks, topics and information I have discovered. This article will be updated on a regular basis as new items become known, and will appear in our RSS Feed, so check back frequently!

Installation Issues:

I did not experience any installation issues at all, installing the product on two separate machines, Windows XP SP2 and Windows Server 2003. Just make sure you UNINSTALL everything relating to any previous CTP or Beta versions of the 2.0 Framework or VS.NET 2005 (Whidbey) first, including Device Emulator and MSDN Library. There appears to be no problem with existing version of VS.NET 2003 residing on the same machine. As before, the only thing to be aware about is the new ASP.NET tab in IIS, and making sure this is set to the correct runtime version for the site as a whole, or for individual IIS applications.

README

The full Readme is online and available here: Wise developers have long since learned that we always read this BEFORE we install a beta product.



Breaking Changes from 1.1 Framework:

There is a breaking changes section at gotdotnet.com, here:

http://www.gotdotnet.com/team/changeinfo/Backwards1.1to2.0/default.aspx

 

SQL Server Express (2005)

Developers have been complaining that they cannot connect to SQL Server Express. That is because the default instance name in the various dialogs in not populated (or populated incorrectly). Enter ".\SQLEXPRESS" as the server name and you will be able to connect.

I would not recommend installing SQL Server Express alone, unless you do so with either one of the Web Developer Express versions, or with the full Visual Studio.NET 2005 Beta. This is because the only real way you can program against SQL Server Express (currently) is from within the VS.NET IDE - which now has vastly improved Data - related capabilities, including the ability to create and design databases from scratch.

The API's available to program against SQL Server Express are the same as those for SQL Server 2005, so that users have a seamless experience if they choose to move to other editions of SQL Server 2005. All of the new features in SQL Server 2005, such as common language runtime (CLR) integration, new data types such as VARCHAR(MAX) and XML, user-defined types, and user-defined aggregates are supported. Also, SQL Server Express databases can attach to SQL Server 2005, and applications programmed with a SQL Server Express instance will work equally well with a SQL Server 2005 instance. Replication and SQL Service Broker functionality is also available. There is also supposed to be a new "XM Enterprise Manager" like clone, but I have not seen it available yet.

The sa login: SQL requires a strong sa password for security reasons, and during GUI installs and silent SQL authentication mode installs, the user must provide a strong sa password. However, for silent Windows authentication installs, the sa password is not a requirement. The reason is that when using Windows authentication mode, the silent SQL Server Express setup provides a random strong sa password if the password is not specified by the user. The setup also disables the sa account in this case, so that you must explicitly enable sa at a later stage using T-SQL or the Express Manager tool if you wish to use it. This is done so that the ISVs do not have to provide the password when using windows authentication, so that the mass deployment scenarios are not blocked.

NOTE: Your database / server access options at this point (until they release the new XM GUI tool) consist of working out of the VS.NET IDE, or using the provided SQLCMD command - line tool, which is extremely similar to OSQL.

Networking support for SQL Express

Only the shared memory on the local machine is accessible by default for SQL Server Express, although the user can explicitly turn on other supported protocols such as TCP/IP and Named Pipes. VIA and HTTP protocols are not supported in SQL Server Express. With only shared memory available by default, connections from a remote machine to SQL Server Express will fail unless the networking is turned on. To turn networking on, you can do one of the following:

Use SQL Computer Manager to enable relevant protocols and start SQL Browser.

Use DISABLENETWORKPROTOCOLS=0 in the setup command line, if you know in advance that networking support is needed (this is not an option with the integrated VS.NET 2005 install).

Use SMO-based scripting to enable the protocols.

Service Broker

Service Broker is basically an asynchronous programming framework for database applications.  This means (among many other things) that you can establish a reliable, asynchronous, bi-directional communications sessions between a client and server. Aside from the obvious benefits of a reliable connection - client able to
run even if the network is temporarily unavailable, the asynchronous, bidirectional nature of the communications means that the client can queue up work as fast as the user can enter it for the server to process when it has processor cycles available and the server can send data to the client without the client requesting it, even if the client is not on line at the time. Service Broker must be running with, for example, the TCP library enabled, in order to access SQLExpress from another machine.

Summary

Visual Studio.NET 2005 is an exciting, very full-featured product. It is obvious that the developer team at Microsoft has put a lot of thought and careful planning into making this a really Enterprise-level development platform, both from a developer-usability / productivity standpoint, and from the vantage point of the new .NET Framework 2.0. They have now had the luxury of being able to build on the experience of two prior major versions of the product going back to 2001, and the work they have put in really shows. Developers who are interested in staying on top of the latest technology would be well advised to get their hands on this and begin studying and developing real applications with it right now.

 


Peter Bromberg is a C# MVP, MCP, and .NET consultant who has worked in the banking and financial industry for 20 years. He has architected and developed web - based corporate distributed application solutions since 1995, and focuses exclusively on the .NET Platform.
Article Discussion: