Microsoft Visual Studio Express
Screenshot of Visual Studio Express 2012 for Desktop running on Windows 7, developing a Windows application called Wikipedia Recon Drone
|Type||Integrated development environment|
Microsoft Visual Studio Express is a set of freeware integrated development environments (IDE) developed by Microsoft as a lightweight version of the Microsoft Visual Studio. Express editions were conceived beginning with Visual Studio 2005. The idea of Express editions is to provide streamlined, easy-to-use and easy-to-learn IDEs for hobbyists and students, rather than professional software developers.
Visual Studio 2005 Express, the first version of Visual Studio Express, was released on October 2005. It runs on Windows 2000 SP4 and later. Service Pack 1 for 2005 Express was released on December 2006. In response to popular demand, Microsoft has promised the Express editions will remain free-of-charge. Visual Studio 2005 is supported until 2015.
Visual Studio 2008 Express was released in November 2007. Service Pack 1 for 2008 Express was released on August 11, 2008. Visual Studio 2008 and 2010 Express require Windows XP SP3 or a later. Although Windows 2000 is no longer supported, Visual Studio 2008 Express can still develop applications for use on Windows 2000. Windows Phone support is only available with Windows Vista and later.
Visual Studio 2010 Express was released in April 2010, alongside Visual Studio 2010. Free registration is mandatory to use the product beyond 30 days. Although not originally required, e.g. for Visual Studio 2005 and 2008 Express (ISO versions), registration for use beyond the initial 30-day period has been required since the release of Visual Studio Express 2008.
Visual Studio 2005, 2008, and 2010 Express are geared toward single project types. For example, developers need to launch Visual Web Developer Express to build web applications while class libraries must be developed separately in Visual C# Express. In contrast, the commercial editions of Visual Studio support multiple project types within a solution.
Visual Studio 2005, 2008, and 2010 Express consist of the following separate products:
- Visual Basic Express
- Visual C++ Express
- Visual C# Express
- Visual J# Express (2005 only)
- Visual Web Developer Express
- Visual Studio Express for Windows Phone (2010 only)
Visual Basic Express
- No IDE support for databases other than SQL Server Express and Microsoft Access
- No support for web applications with ASP.NET (although, it is supported by Visual Web Developer Express)
- No support for developing for mobile devices (no templates or emulator)
- Absence of Crystal Reports
- Fewer project templates (e.g. Windows services template and Excel Workbook template are unavailable)
- Limited options for debugging and breakpoints
- No support for creating Windows Services (needs a separate project template)
- No support for OpenMP
- Limited deployment options for finished programs
- No code folding
Visual Basic 2008 Express includes the following improvements over 2005:
- Includes the visual Windows Presentation Foundation designer codenamed "Cider"
- Debugs at runtime
- Better IntelliSense support
Visual Basic 2005 and 2008 Express feature a Visual Basic 6.0 converter that makes it possible to upgrade Visual Basic 6.0 projects to Visual Basic.NET. The converter is not included with 2010 Express.
Visual Web Developer Express
Visual Web Developer 2005 Express lacks certain features, such as the Accessibility Checker, the ability to create standalone class library projects, third-party add-ins and macros. Visual Web Developer 2008 Express SP1 supports both class library and web application projects. It also includes a new integrated HTML designer based on Microsoft Expression Web. However, this edition cannot publish self-developed websites.[clarification needed]
Visual C++ Express
Limitations of Visual C++ Express:
- No support for MFC or ATL. These libraries can, however, be installed from an older version of the Windows SDK and Windows Driver Kit.
- Lack of a resource editor, which is available in commercial editions of Visual Studio.
- No profiling support
- No support for add-ins or IDE macros
- No option for crash dump generation
- No "list of all breakpoints" window.
- No support for cross-language debugging, for example a C# application calling a C++ DLL.
Limitations in earlier versions:
- No out-of-box support for developing 64-bit applications (prior to 2012).
- No support for OpenMP (prior to 2012)
- Lack of support for attaching the debugger to a running process (prior to 2010)
Many open source projects have started providing project files created with Visual C++ Express; noteworthy examples include the Ogre and Irrlicht engines. Modding kits for commercial engines, such as Valve's Source engine, also support this development system.
Visual C# Express
Visual C# Express is an easy-to-use, free, lightweight, integrated development environment (IDE) designed for novice developers, students and hobbyists to create applications and (when combined with the XNA Game Studio) video games for Windows, Xbox 360 and Zune. It can build console, Windows Forms and Windows Presentation Foundation applications, as well as class libraries.
Visual C# Express lack a breakpoint control panel, so user can only toggle breakpoints.
- Encapsulate field
- Promote local to parameter
- Reorder parameters
- Remove parameters
- Extract interface
The limitations effectively reduce the refactoring capabilities of Visual C# Express to renaming and extracting methods. According to Microsoft, the reason the listed features are absent is "to simplify the C# Express user experience". Some end users claim the omission of refactoring capabilities compromises the user experience.
The ability to attach the debugger to an already-running process is also unavailable, hindering scenarios such as writing Windows services and re-attaching a debugger under ASP.NET when errors under the original debugging session cause breakpoints to be ignored.
Unlike previous Express editions, each of which was geared around a single programming language, the 2012 Express edition is geared toward an overall solution type, and can contain more than one project type. For example, a web solution might consist of a web application project and a couple of C# class-library projects.
Microsoft has released five Visual Studio Express 2012 products:
|Edition||Description||Desktop OS||Server OS|
|Visual Studio Express 2012 for Web||Allows development of web applications. Includes integrated features for deploying to Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud computing platform.|
|Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop||Allows development of conventional Windows desktop applications in C#, VB.NET and C++, targeting Windows client technologies such as Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), Windows Forms, and the Win32 API. Unlike previous Express editions, it has built-in support for compiling 64-bit applications through IDE. Update 1 adds support for Windows XP in C++ applications.|
|Visual Studio Team Foundation Server Express 2012||Provides source control, work-item tracking, application lifecycle management and build automation for teams of up to five developers.|
|Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Phone||Consists of Windows Phone 8 SDK that enables developing applications for Windows Phone v7.5 and v8 and testing them on an emulator. Supports C++, .NET Framework and DirectX. As part of its .NET Framework support, it can integrate with Microsoft Expression Blend.||Windows 8 (x64 only)||N/A|
- Visual Studio Express 2013 for Web
- Visual Studio Express 2013 for Windows: Originally supported Windows 8.1 only, but update 2013.2 added support to Windows Phone 8.1 also.
- Visual Studio Express 2013 for Windows Desktop
- Visual Studio Team Foundation Server Express 2013
Like the 2012 Express edition, they are geared toward an overall solution type which may mix different types of projects. However, different IDEs are still offered for different destination platforms. Note that Visual Studio express for Windows Phone was not released in the set of 2013 products (the 2012 release is still offered for download), but Visual Studio express for Windows Phone is now merged to Visual studio express for Windows 2013.2.
Visual Studio is extensible by nature, ultimately consisting of a core "shell" that implements all commands, windows, editors, project types, languages, and other features through dynamically loadable modules called "packages". Microsoft encourages and fosters third-party partners to create modules for Visual Studio via the free VSIP program. However, according to Dan Fernandez, Microsoft "made a business decision to not allow 3rd party extensibility in Express".
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- Official website
- Visual Studio Express downloads - nonofficial page with links to downloads from official servers, much less complicated than the official page