The next release of Visual Studio .NET is finally available from Microsoft. Codenamed Everett, Visual Studio .NET 2003 ships with the .NET Framework 1.1. The .NET Framework 1.1 extends 1.0 with new additions to the base class library, improvements to existing features, and integration of two mobile application development frameworks that previously required separate downloads.
Everett was formerly only available to selected beta testers under NDA agreements. With the Final Beta, Microsoft has lifted the confidential clause that applies to all beta testers of Everett. In this article, I will take a quick look at some of the most visible changes in Visual Studio .NET 2003.
Recognizing the importance of mobility, Microsoft had previously released the Mobile Internet Toolkit (MMIT). MMIT extends upon ASP.NET server-side technology to give developers the ability to develop applications that target different types of mobile devices, such as cell phones and PDAs. The greatest benefit MMIT brings is the familiar application development environment that most ASP.NET programmers are familiar with. During runtime, MMIT will automatically detect the device running the application and choose the best presentation format suitable for that particular device. This approach frees the developer to focus on the application logic and not worry unduly about presentation issues.
In .NET 1.1, MMIT has been renamed as ASP.NET Mobile Controls to reinforce the concept that MMIT is a collection of ASP.NET controls that are designed for mobile applications.
|Figure 1. Mobile Web Forms is a set of ASP.NET controls designed for mobile applications|
Because the ASP.NET Mobile Controls are integrated into .NET 1.1, you can now simply install Visual Studio .NET 2003 and create a new ASP.NET Mobile Web Application.
|Figure 2. ASP.NET Mobile Controls are now integrated into Visual Studio .NET 2003|
As new mobile devices are released into the market, Microsoft provides the ASP.NET Mobile Controls Device Updates. The ASP.NET Mobile Controls Device Updates modify the entries in the Machine.config file so that behaviors of new devices can be kept up to date.
|Figure 3. ASP.NET Mobile Controls render the appropriate markup language, depending on device types|
Visual Studio .NET 2003 offers a welcome relief to all those developers who have been longing to get their hands on Smart Device Extension (SDE), but who were not enrolled in the beta program. The SDE was previously an add-on to Visual Studio .NET, allowing developers to develop standalone mobile applications for the Microsoft Pocket PC 2002 (and Pocket PC 2000).
The .NET 1.1 ships with a subset of the .NET Framework, known as the .NET Compact Framework (.NET CF). The .NET compact Framework allows developers to capitalize on their knowledge of the .NET Framework to develop mobile applications that run on the Pocket PC and the latest Windows CE .NET operating systems.
|Figure 4. Architecture of the .NET Compact Framework|
Prior to the current Final Beta, developers were not able to get a copy of the SDE for testing unless they signed up as a beta tester (which is not open to all). As a result, developers who were developing mobile applications using Embedded Visual Tools had no means to assess their upgrade options. Now, with the Final Beta, developers can have a more concrete idea of when the final .NET CF will be released and what additional benefits it can bring to them.
In Visual Studio .NET 2003, the SDE is integrated into Visual Studio .NET and comes with two built-in emulators:
|Figure 5. Developing Smart Device Application in Visual Studio .NET 2003|
|Figure 6. The Pocket PC 2002 emulator|
|Figure 7. The Windows CE.NET emulator|
A slight change in SDE is that the Final Beta contains a new device control known as the Input Panel. In beta one of the SDE (in Visual Studio .NET), you need to explicitly add in a MainMenu control to your application in order to invoke the on-screen input panel, or else it will not be shown. In the Final Beta, you simply drag and drop an Input Panel control to your form and the Input Panel will be shown, facilitating input:
|Figure 8. Displaying the Input Panel|
I have been playing with the SDE beta in Visual Studio .NET 2003 for a while now. While stability has improved, occasionally I still have some really trying times debugging my applications. Hopefully, this Final Beta will be more stable.
Besides the two data providers shipped with .NET 1.0 (SQL Server and OLE DB), .NET 1.1 also includes two additional data providers (both of which were only available via Web download):
To use the Oracle Managed Provider, you need to add a reference to the
|Figure 9. Adding the Oracle Data Provider assembly|
Both data providers are exposed via the
|Figure 10. Using the two new data providers via namespace imports|
I guess the most immediate concern to developers is: "Will my application built in .NET 1.0 continue to work in 1.1?" The quick answer is yes. Applications built in .NET 1.0 will continue to run on machines loaded with .NET 1.1. Conversely, applications built in .NET 1.1 can be made to run on .NET 1.0, though this is not recommended. Now, for the long answer, see the following URL for a detailed explanation of ensuring that your application remains forward- and backward-compatible: http://www.gotdotnet.com/team/changeinfo/.
If you try to open a solution (or project) created using Visual Studio .NET with Visual Studio .NET 2003, it will flag off the following message:
|Figure 11. Opening a Visual Studio .NET solutions in Visual Studio .NET 2003|
Once the solution is upgraded to the format used in Visual Studio .NET 2003, you won't be able to open it with Visual Studio .NET anymore. Similarly, projects created with Visual Studio .NET 2003 are not readable by Visual Studio .NET.
Besides the main features described above, .NET 1.1 also includes the following additions:
The changes made to .NET 1.1 are too much to be described in one article. Look out for more upcoming articles in ONDotnet.com!
Wei-Meng Lee (Microsoft MVP) http://weimenglee.blogspot.com is a technologist and founder of Developer Learning Solutions http://www.developerlearningsolutions.com, a technology company specializing in hands-on training on the latest Microsoft technologies.
Some useful links on .NET 1.1
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