Microsoft announced the availability of the second beta version of its upcoming Visual Studio 2008 developer tools and the last version of its Silverlight rich media software code before the final version ships. The second version of VS 2008, which is still scheduled to ship before the end of the year, includes a Silverlight add-in that allows developers to start building Silverlight rich Internet applications in VS 2008 and work with designer colleagues using the new Expression Web design tool, Microsoft said. With this beta release, VS 2008 is 99% complete, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman.
Scott Guthrie, general manager of Microsoft’s developer division, noted in a blog post that one of the biggest features Web developers will discover in this beta version of VS 2008 is a “dramatically improved HTML designer” and rich Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) support. VS 2008 now uses the same Web designer that ships with Microsoft’s new Expression Web design tool, he added.
“In addition to providing lots of new functionality, you’ll also find that this Web designer is much faster than the VS 2005 version (which was based on a much older code base),” he wrote.
VS 2008 adds “split view” editing so that developers can see both the HTML source and design view at the same time and have changes made in one view be updated in the other, he added. The version also includes a new tool window that shows the CSS and the corresponding rules for the page a developer is editing. It can be used from within the design view or source view of a page.
Microsoft also announced the second beta version of the .Net Framework 3.5, which now includes full project template and tools support for many of the .Net Framework 3.0 compatibilities previously provided.
Developers will be able to download the Visual Studio 2008 and .Net Framework 3.5 Beta 2 before the end of Friday. The Silverlight 1.0 Release Candidate will be available for download Friday.
Last month, Microsoft unveiled new details about the next version of VS, code-named Rosario and due out sometime after VS 2008. It is aimed at providing developers better insight into a project’s overall status and to help project managers get better insight into where development projects stand.