I had a busy weekend mucking about with some Microsoft Beta stuff. I installed the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on my Build Tablet, and installed Visual Studio 11 Beta on the tablet as well as my work laptop. I'm going to give Windows 8 a few days to soak in, but I thought I'd share my first impressions on VS11.
I downloaded the ISO image for VS 11 Ultimate. The good news is I get to play with Ultimate for a while and some of the bells and whistles with that are quite cool. The downside is that it's a 10gb install. I saw someone else's blog complaining about the install size and I thought to myself "quit complaining, disk space is cheap, and you can always choose to not install everything".
Well, disk space is still cheap, but I actually cancelled out of the setup 3 times thinking I had missed the point where I uncheck all the things I don't want installed. Sure, some day I may start experimenting with some LightSwitch, C++ or F#, until that day, I don't need to install them.
My complaint here isn't the size of the install, it's that I don't get to choose what gets installed. Other than that, the install when smoothly.
Performance = Faster*
I'm used to starting VS10, and looking away for a bit while it gets ready for me. This is not the case with VS11. From double click to ready for me to work is 2 seconds, VS10 spent ~20 seconds with the splash screen up then another 10 seconds before it was ready for me. I can see that some of that 10 seconds is spent loading plugins and 3rd party controls, so I might see VS11 slow down a bit as I start to abuse it.
Loading up a 27 project solution takes about 5 seconds. Loading the same solution in VS10 took ~9 seconds. Doing a full rebuild of that solution to 25 seconds in VS11, it took 32 seconds in VS10. After that, I clicked the "Run" icon, VS11 took 10 seconds between clicking run and when the app was ready to use, VS10 took 20 seconds.
Opening XAML files was the part I appreciated most. I've disabled the editor view by default in VS10 because it takes so long to render the page, and during that time I'm just waiting. I'm not sure if VS11 actually improved on the render times because I have no way to do a good side by side comparison with VS10 without hunting down how I disabled the design interface there. What I can tell you is they've fixed the locking issue. When you open a XAML file, you can start editing the XAML immediately, the designer has a message that it is loading in the background. There is still a slight delay when click to a tab with C# code then back the XAML, but it's a step in the right direction.
Yeah, it's bland. There have to be 10 shades of gray. If you really look at the VS parts, it is pretty heinous. I think they might be onto something though with the idea that all that bland plus some color in the code window helping you focus on what's important. Maybe, we'll have to see as I use it for a few weeks. If all else fails, I can always download a new VS Style...
A quick bit on new features I like:
- Preview - Click on a file in the Solutions Explorer, and it opens as a preview tab. It also appears to use this preview tab for stepping through code. So if you step through a code file that you're not actively working in, it doesn't clutter up your tab well.
- Show All Files - Another Solution explorer option that allows you to see the files they VS is kind enough to hide from you. 99.99% of the time having those files hidden is nice the other .01% of the time...
- Quick Launch - Basically a search box for all of the commands VS provides.
- Transform All T4 Templates - Found this while trying out the quick launch. I have a right click option to transform all templates at the project level. Now I can do it at the Solution level, and I would hope to be able to do it within a build script as well. (Still no built in editor for T4, thumbs down on that).
Did I mention faster? That's the biggest surprise to me. I don't love or hate the new look. Some of the new features I've stumbled on are nice. This next weekend, I'll actually be able to work on my side project for Windows Phone, that should allow me to get a better feel for how VS11 performs in my typical work day.
*Nothing terribly scientific in my timing. I just watched the clock while I waited. I did try to do the same things in the same order in both versions.