Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Basic Training: Working With .NET

Since I am in the process of developing a Basic Training tutorial on C#, I thought that I would create a post on the tools that programmers can use when developing in .NET.

The obvious tool

Microsoft created an IDE called Visual Studio that will allow you to develop and compile your code in one interface. This IDE also allows you to create distribution builds as well as publish web (ASP.NET) projects to a web site.

IDE - Integrated Development Environment

The latest version of Visual Studio is Visual Studio 2008. There are four versions of Visual Studio 2008:

  • Express Edition - A free but very limited version of Visual Studio. Each of the languages (Visual Basic, C#, C++, Web Developer (including ASP.NET)) are in separate software versions. This version is ideal if you are just starting out in one of the .NET languages, but it doesn't grow with you when you are ready for more involved programming. You can download the Express Edition from Microsoft.

  • Professional Edition - A full-featured version of Visual Studio 2008. This version contains additional features that the Express Edition doesn't contain, such as the ability to deploy packages. This version is ideal for an individual user or a small "shop". The product information can be found at Microsoft

  • Development Edition - Works like the Professional Edition, but this edition contains more features aimed at development teams, such as: code analyzers to improve code quality and security; unit testing features; code analyzers to analyze code performance; and metrics to identify error-prone code. This version is ideal if you are developing your own commercial or freeware applications. The product information can be found at Microsoft.

  • Team Suite - This is the mother of all versions of Visual Studio. This version contains a boatload of features aimed at larger software development shops. This version also includes a subscription to MSDN. The product information can be found at Microsoft.

What If You are Broke but You Don't Want the Express Edition?

If you are a student or an instructor, Microsoft has a program called DreamSpark. The purpose of DreamSpark is to give students and instructors professional editions of their software free of charge. Once you sign up for DreamSpark, you can download the software for free. Your school or institution may not be participating in the DreamSpark program, but you can still sign up for it as long as you have an e-mail address from a school or institution.

Note: If you are going to use SharpDevelop and you have some money to spare - even $5.00 - please take a moment and make a donation to the people who developed it.

If you are not a student or instructor, there is a free, open-source IDE called SharpDevelop that's based on the .NET Framework. The look and feel, as well as the functionality, is very similar to Visual Studio (there are a few slight differences). I have used SharpDevelop and I like it. The latest version of SharpDevelop works with the latest .NET Framework (3.5).

What If You are Broke but You're "Hardcore"?

Guess what? You don't need an IDE to develop in .NET! All you need is the latest version of the .NET Framework SDK, and you can write code with the editor of your choice and compile .NET programs from the command line (csc for C# programs, vbc for VB.NET programs). The latest .NET Framework SDK includes components for Windows Server 2008 as well as the SDK for .NET Framework version 3.5. You can review the release notes and download the SDK from Microsoft.

Those are a few tools that should get you started with .NET development. For those of you that are experienced with .NET development, please post a comment on any additional IDEs that you use for your .NET development that aren't mentioned in this post.

No comments: