If you're like a lot of folks, you were probably a little perplexed by the announcement of the new Visual Studio and .NET platforms. Your immediate reaction may have been, "Oh, no — not another set of tools to learn."

Even if you look forward to the new productivity that Visual Studio 2008 and the new version of the .NET Framework can offer, you may still be wary. Like many experienced developers, you have become comfortable with what you know. A comfortable developer is a productive developer. So you may have put off reading about the new tools as long as possible because you figured that you would find all your usual tasks hidden on new toolbars and menus.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Visual Studio 2008 is more than just the next version of Visual Studio to use with the next version of the .NET Framework. Visual Studio 2008 continues Microsoft's attempt to position Visual Studio as a tool you can use for the upstream and downstream development activities that sandwich actual code writing. For example, you can use Visual Studio to visually model the entities you want to create in code. Unlike other modeling tools that have only a one-way relationship between the model and the code generation, your code stays synchronized with the model.

To be sure, Visual Studio still excels when it comes to writing code — whether you're writing it yourself or using one of Visual Studio designers to generate code for you. As with the designers in previous versions of Visual ...

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