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Microsoft just announced that Visual Studio 11 Beta is going to be released on February 29th, 2012. That’s next week! And an even bigger announcement is that you can “Go Live” with the Beta. (More on that in a later post.)

There are a lot of new changes coming. Even if you’ve spent time with the Dev 11 Community Preview build released at the //Build conference last year, you’ll be shocked by the changes. Here at Northwest Cadence, we’re most excited by the changes to the features that impact team development and ALM, but I wanted to highlight a few key changes that will impact everyone.

New Look and Feel

First is the new UI. The Metro look and feel has been introduced to Visual Studio, and looks great. Colors, which used to be widely used all over the interface, have been reserved for highlighting important attributes, critical to discoverability and usability. The rest of the UI has a muted, monochromatic feel. I like it. Here’s an example of the difference between the icons in Visual Studio 2010 (top row) and VS 11 Beta (bottom row).

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Improved Usability

Secondly, Microsoft has dramatically improved the usability of the tool windows, which we use by reducing what we see in our day to day work. Much like the Office Ribbon (which we grew to love), dramatically reduced the number of toolbars we see, the new VS 11 Beta also dramatically reduces the number of toolbars that are visible. This minimization of the UI means we have to add the toolbars we want. Somewhat non-intuitively, MS UI research discovered that this actually increased discoverability of new features, as people browse through the available toolbars. Overall, I like it.


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The default toolbars in VS 2010

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The default toolbars in VS 11

Added Search Capabilities

Lastly, I’ll mention Search. This is an area where a lot of effort has gone into making search more contextual. And you can search in more areas. With Quick Launch, you can search the entire set of VS 11 Beta commands. This means less time at the mouse, and more at the keyboard, which is faster. Another addition is the ability to search within a selection of toolbox windows. For instance, you can now easily search with in the Solution Explorer, Team Explorer, Toolbox and Code Analysis windows, as well as many more.

Get the Beta! Coming next week, you’ll want to get the Beta ASAP.

Resources

While you wait, here’s a list of resources to get you started.

Do you want to move to Visual Studio 11 NOW? It is available for install soon! For help moving forward contact rick.flath@nwcadence.com

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