Wednesday, January 12, 2005

It's fun to watch them grow up

I get to see new features in the Office and Visual Studio suites as they're checked in, which is pretty fun. I always thought it would be fun to watch something like Outlook slowly pick up new features, and I was right. Right now, FrontPage 12 and Outlook 12 are both looking like great new versions. I'm not sure what to think about Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 12 yet (I don't really use them that much, except Word for email, and they're kind of... weird... right now). Visual Studio 2005, though, is looking fantastic. It's got a huge chunk of the features that have been on my wish list for a while, lots of stuff that I never thought of that I've come to love, and it looks sexy too... it's probably the best-looking Microsoft application as of now, which is kind of funny, given the stereotypical no-frills developer. (And the latest version has several noticeable improvements over the last build I tried: it can compile applications, the toolbox has controls in it, all of the toolbar buttons have icons, and it doesn't throw exceptions if you try to look at your project's properties...) The code editor is one place where I've seen a pleasantly strong attention to detail. I just found out a couple days ago about this: let's say you have a bitfield that stores permissions: read (1), write (2), and delete (4). Now let's say that you have a variable of this type with the value 5. If you hover your cursor over this value in previous versions of Visual Studio, you see that the value is 5. If you hover your cursor over this value in Visual Studio 2005, you see that the value is 5 and that 5 means "Read + Delete." Seeing little things like those alongside the huge new features like generics and Edit and Continue are how I know that this is going to be a really successful product, and it's hugely entertaining to watch it "grow up."

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