June 6, 2007

Visual Studio Shell announced - answer to Eclipse Platform?

Craig Skibo of Microsoft writes about new thing they announced recently - Visual Studio Shell. What the hell is that? Marketing description is unreadable:

A streamlined Visual Studio development environment, the Visual Studio Shell provides the core foundation so you can focus on building your application’s unique features.

But Craig gives a description mortals like me can understand:

Over the years many people have been creating packages and Add-ins for Visual Studio, but if anybody wanted to use your package, they had to have a copy of Visual Studio (pro or above) installed on their computer or you had to license what we called the PPE (or “Premier Partner Edition” – another beautiful name) and it was not exactly cheap.

What I have been working on is allowing you to, by building a small exe program and editing an even smaller text file that looks like a .reg file, create your own application which consumes the Visual Studio shell. Your program is branded with your company name and logos in any way that you wish, the only place that any Microsoft logo appears is on the splash screen where on the bottom right we put the text “Powered By Visual Studio”. And best of all – it is free!!! You can also distribute the PPE version of Visual Studio Shell, for free!!!

Ok, so Visual Studio Shell looks like Microsoft answer to the Eclipse Platform.

That's a good move, but what bother me tough is the fact that building plugins for Visual Studio is still a nightmare compared to building Eclipse plugins. If Microsoft wants to achieve at least a portion of adoption Eclipse platform has they have to simplify Visual Studio SDK programming substantially. Which is hardly possible without substantial redesign/rewrite of this 10 years old monster.

Visual Studio Hawaii (next after Orcas) was supposed to be such new dramatically redesigned version. And this announcement sounds like a sign of a major Visual Studio redesign going on right now.