Tools for beginners, pros and gurus

Microsoft has announced the product line overview of Visual Studio 2005. Since professional developers are already used to the full VS experience, the most interesting part is the Express product line, aimed at "beginning programmers and non-professional developers". Although the licensing conditions and final pricing remain to be published, it's rumoured that the price tag would be in the 49 – 99 $ range or 40 – 85 euros approximately.
I've been testing the Visual C# 2005 Express Edition Beta, and I must say this: If the price ends up the lower end of that rumoured range, it's going to be a hit. And it's going to hit the competition, Borland mostly. The VS line has gathered such a community behind it (take a look at CodeProject or GotDotNet just for examples) that it's going to be increasingly hard for Delphi to compete. I'm not even mentioning C#Builder here — last I tried it, I quickly fled back to my text editor (not even VS at the time).
Even though Microsoft talks about beginners, I don't think most people are going to run out of features on VC#2005 Express even if they were quite able programmers indeed. I mean, these feature tables are just an illusion: for most part, they don't contain rows that have "Yes Yes Yes" – elementary features such as syntax highlighting or IntelliSense are taken for granted. Now, if we compare VC#2005EE to, say, Turbo Pascal 5.5 of the early 90s, VC# is packed with features nobody ever even dreamed about back then. Yet, people created massively complex software with those tools. For most everyday programming tasks, we've crossed the border where programming IDE stopped being a hindrance quite a long time ago – it's now a question of the developer's ability to develop and handle immense abstract structures.
By no means am I trying to say there's no longer need for tool development. VS2005 is much better than 2003, and there's still much room for improvement. But still, looking at feature charts makes you unnecessarily greedy. Those tools don't usually make you a better programmer which is – in the end – The Thing required to successfully create and maintain pieces of non-trivial software, be it for commercial or non-commercial purposes.
The next logical step here will be providing the Express tools for free. I'm looking forward to it. But even now, I'd be ready to toss 50 of my own euros to get the dev environment VC#2005EE provides.

July 23, 2004 В· Jouni Heikniemi В· No Comments
Posted in: .NET

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