Why I Stick With Visual Studio 2008 for SharePoint 2010 Development

People seem surprised when I start up my development environment to to SharePoint 2010 development. The surprise comes from seeing the Visual Studio 2008 logo flashes before their eyes.

“What you’re not using the latest and greatest? How come?”

I’ll tell you why, and I’ve already given you a slight hint. “The Visual Studio log flashes before their eyes”, indicating speed. Visual Studio 2008 is lightning fast.

I tried working on every edition of Visual Studio 2010 from the early betas. Compared to the earliest versions, the RTM version seems like a race car where the old versions were various species of snail.

Despite this, Visual Studio 2010 feels like a snail when compared to its old brother. I write a lot, not just code, so perhaps my typing speed is higher than average. I always feel the IntelliSense is sluggish and just a bit too slow to keep up. I try this on massive machines as well, sporting 16 GB of ram, so it’s not a hardware issue. Granted, I run this in a VM, but I’ve never had problems with this in 2008, so I blame 2010.

The thing I’m missing from 2010 is the smart IntelliSense that searches the entire words of methods and properties. I’ve grown so accustomed to the SharePoint object model, however, that the times when I need to search for methods and properties are few. It’s nice for exploration, but not enough to warrant the slower speed.

The next thing people ask is why I’m not using the fancy SP2010 tools. I’ll tell you why: They suck.

Yeah, there you go, I used the word again. I just don’t think the hype is worth the quality of the final product.

When I meet SP2010 developers who have previously worked with SP2007 development, they all say the same thing: the tools are bells and whistles, and takes away your feeling of control. Sure, for kids, it is nice to click around to give the impression of doing stuff. Compared to VSeWSS, I’m sure it’s great.

The two developers I’ve met that used the horrible VSeWSS tool previously are thrilled, and I can understand that. When what you’re coming from is your balls in a thumbscrew (ladies will just have to imagine something extremely painful, and no, giving birth isn’t as painful), then sitting on a bicycle with a missing seat must seem like heaven.

So what do I use? I stick with trusty old WSPBuilder. Heck, the experience is just as good as it always has been and the control is rivaled by no other tool.

Despite what seems to be a rumor, WSPBuilder is far from dead. I heard that Carsten Keutmann had decided to cancel the WSPBuilder project. I wrote him asking if this was true and he said that he was just pausing to see where the SP2010 tools and community headed.

I can tell you right now, Carsten, it’s headed for disaster, but because the lack of competition. With the SP2010 tools, you’re stuck in a maze trying to get control over your project, but ending up with nothing what you expect.

So the SP2010 fanclub says: “The tools are great once you learn how to use them!” to which I can reply that, you know, even if that were true, and I doubt it, I want to learn SharePoint, not how to use a particular tool. When there’s a learning curve for a tool beyond 5 minutes, the tool is faulty.

WSPBuilder FTW! Carsten, get yer behind in gear and get back to giving us the development experience we want.


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Bjørn Furuknap

I previously did SharePoint. These days, I try new things to see where I can find the passion. If you have great ideas, cool projects, or is in general an awesome person, get in touch and we might find out together.

9 thoughts on “Why I Stick With Visual Studio 2008 for SharePoint 2010 Development”

  1. Thank you for your moral support on WSPBuilder. I can confirm that the WSPBuilder is on pause at the moment. However I still plan to release a final version from the beta 2010.

  2. Hi Furuknap,

    You're a top guy, your book was the business, but I can't agree with you on this one. The VS2010 SharePoint tools are the Dogs Bollocks. I was sceptical at first, my fellow workmates will tell you that. I was missing WSPBuilder too, but after a week or so and only a slight change in working, and you'll find it's one hell of a lot faster to work with them than the best that VS2008 could offer even with the awesomeness that is WSPbuilder.
    The instant deployment and debugging is just great. The packaging, retracting, the templates, and the Intellisense is just so great and if you add in the CKS http://cksdev.codeplex.com/ you've got an unbelieveable set of tools compared to before. I agree that VS2010 is slow compared to VS2008 BUT that downside is offset by the upside by way as far as I'm concerned.

    Ah well horses for courses …


    Dave Mc

  3. Dave,

    In time, I'm sure that VS2010 will feel less sluggish. After all, I only have a quad-core i7 with 16 Gb of RAM and by the time the historians read this (meaning in about two years), they'll wonder how I even survived.

    As for the tools, I have tried. Heck, I've written two chapters of Introducing SharePoint 2010 about using the tools. Still, it's rubbish, and the awkwardness of the development experience will need some serious fixing before it can compare to WSPbuilder.

    I should note, however, that I belog to the generation of developers who think Notepad is a great development tool. I type much faster than I drag my mouse across a table, and I am fairly certain that I can type out what the tools generate faster than most people would click-select-OK-click-select-swear-rightclick-drag-select-click-drag-right-click-OK.

    In other words, you're wrong 🙂


  4. I agree that 2010 is slower but I’m not a super fast typer to begin with so maybe that’s why it doesn’t make as much of a difference for me. I noticed that the few times I used the menu system, it was slower too.

    I agree that the tools aren’t very good either. I find myself navigating more around them than using them, honestly. They seem like a hindrance more than a help at times.

    However, and this is the big however…maybe this is just my environment, but I love:

    — The tight TFS integration in VisualStudio 2010. Checking in, checking out, building…it’s all easier in 2010

    — Project management…the scrum tools…architecture modeling…lab management. It’s all worth it to me.

    If I just coded a bunch of individual web parts, then I would definitely stick with VS2008. I agree with that. But code management and the processes around that code are becoming ever more important. VS2010 does a much better job of that.

    The SharePoint specific tools will get better. I’m hoping that I can start using them with 2010.

    1. Doug,

      When it comes to source control, I’m not necessarily a huge fan of TFS. Most of the time, I use Subversion, simply because it’s the tool with which I’m most familiar. However, the more important thing is that I like to be free to choose the code management tool that makes sense for a project.

      It may be a result of me working with a wide range of clients that have different solutions (including some TFS users).

      The same applies for project management. At any point in time, I am certain I have three different task management solutions, and as much as I’d love to see everyone using just one system, that’s not going to happen, nor am I in a situation where demanding that would make sense.

      So yeah, I’m sure that if you are using TFS fully, VS2010 may have an edge in those aspects, but frankly, I still value the freedom of simple tools with massive extensibilty. Perhaps that’s why I love SharePoint too 🙂


  5. Hi,
    I like your post and I want to stick with vs2008, but my SharePoint projects are done with VSeWSS and I can’t get them to work on my SP2010 development system with VS2008.
    Can any one give me some advice? I just can’t find any info, it looks like the only solution is to use vs2010…

  6. Very good point, honestly I never thought in this direction. I agree to all that you mentioned above, Cannot forget, WSPBuilder has made life simpler in SP2007 development

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