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Getting Started With Visual Studio .Net

Visual Studio .Net (herein referred to as just Visual Studio, unless otherwise stated!) comes in several different versions, targetted at different types of programmers/different needs. The basic package tends to be the same (Visual C++ 7, Visual Basic 7 and C#), but you'll get different template projects, additional tools, software and resources.

Have a look at this page on the Microsoft website to see what components fit into what version of Visual Studio. The majority of small teams and solo-developers will only need the professional edition, and I cant think of any reason why anyone other than a large company would actually want to buy the full enterprise-architect edition. If you still qualify as being in formal education (university/high school etc...) then you can probably get the academic/student priced edition (which is how I got Visual Studio 6 Professional Edition). Microsoft sent me a copy of the straight Enterprise Edition for this review, which has every tool in the professional edition and more! I will try to mention when I'm discussing features not included in other versions.

Price is probably a big factor in deciding what version you might be interested in, and given the high starting price it may well be completely out of your reach. Follow this link to get to the Microsoft pricing page, I'm not going to list the prices here because they are quite likely to change over time, and will be slightly different depending on what territory you're in (Europe, Americas etc...). For a rough overview, Professional Edition was around US$600, and Enterprise was around US$1600 when I last checked.


Assuming that you've purchased your copy of Visual Studio, the first thing you need to do is install it. Luckily this is really not very complicated at all, and was a relatively pain-free experience on my part.

Visual Studio (Enterprise) came with 15 CD's, although only 6 of them were for the actual software, the rest being additional software (Win2K Server for example). There is also a DVD edition available should that suit your needs better (probably will for those with more modern PC's). Installation starts with the usual detail-filling and configuration as with all software, and from then on you can safely leave the computer alone and go for a walk (or whatever you want to do in your spare time). A walk is probably a good idea, as installation takes a long time!

I chose a fairly typical installation of the Enterprise Edition - pretty much everything except for a few internet-only components (my development machine is not connected to the internet), this took up 2.1 gigabytes of my hard drive space - ouch! This is marginally bigger than my Visual Studio 6 Installation (1.7gb) and not too much bigger than my WindowsXP installation once the system is running (1.8gb). All in all, just for programming and the operating system I've got nearly 5gb of my 10gb drive chewed up! With current hard drives now hitting 75gb (20gb seems to be the minimum) this is probably not going to concern most people.

Installation from the very start (sticking the CD in the drive) took well over an hour - with the file copying being 50 minutes of that, obviously this is variable depending on the CD ROM speed (32x in my case) and the hard drive speed. Whilst its probably quite convenient to busy-yourself with other things during an installation of that duration, but if you have the CD edition you'll need to swap disks 3 times during the main installation - every 15 minutes or so I reckon, so dont go too far!

Once file copying is complete the software is ready to go - simple as that really. Whilst the initial installation isn't entirely simple (you effectively have to do a "custom" style install, selecting all the components and tools you want installed, as opposed to default "typical" / "full" options you normally get) the whole process is pretty painless and gets my approval. During installation you're presented with a simple web-page like window with a small piece of information on all the major areas of your new software, providing a good 10 minutes of reading whilst waiting for the software to install. I like this feature, its much better than the normal method of showing a nice picture and a paragraph of text that changes for every 10% of installation thats done...

To continue with the story click here or click here to return to the introduction.

Introduction: Introducing the software, and the aims of this review.
• Getting Started With Visual Studio .Net: The installer, version, prices etc...
The new IDE: New things in the Integrated Development Environment, and is it an improvement?
Learning to Talk the Talk: Learning the new language (C#) and the changes to Visual Basic
Visual Studio .Net in the Real World: Performance and real world capabilities
Conclusion: Summing everything up in a neat way


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