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I've had Visual Studio Orcas Beta 1 installed on a Virtual PC for a while now, and have mainly been using it to do some Silverlight 1.1 development. For the most part it has worked OK, although I've had a few niggles with it:

  • Doesn't let me step through JavaScript (despite turning on Script debugging in IE)
  • Insists on covering up part of the code with a toolbar window whenever I run in debug mode.

But today I tried to develop a WPF application in it, instead of simply using Visual Studio 2005 with the .NET 3.0 extensions. The experience was painful. The designer regularly threw exceptions, and Visual Studio itself crashed a few times.

More concerningly, the WPF designer itself seems very lacking in the basic functionality we have come to expect with Windows Forms. I am very enthusiastic about WPF, but if I am to persuade anyone at my work that using it would be a good idea, we need a much better experience for those who just want to create a Window and add controls and event handlers if they are to be tempted away from plain old Windows Forms.

  • You have to continually ask the designer to show you just XAML - it defaults to a split view with not enough space to see either the layout or XAML
  • Double-clicking a button in the designer doesn't add a handler
  • You can't choose font settings in a nice dialog - you just have to know what you can enter into FontFamily
  • You can't ctrl-click and drag to copy a control

So unfortunately, Orcas Beta 1 is very much a beta, and still a long way from being a release candidate. Hopefully there will be a beta 2 before too long, with a much enhanced WPF designer, and built-in Silverlight support.


Comment by David

Sadly, the final RTM of Visual Studio 2008 did not significantly improve the situation, except that it crashes (a little) less. I didn't think I could be more underwhelmed by an IDE release than I was by VS 2005; looks like I was wrong.