Visual Studio 2005 Information


Are you confused about what is, and is not, included in the various versions of Visual Studio 2005?
 
Express Products ($49 per*, free for SQL):
The express products are aimed at hobbyists. They have a very low price point ($49 for the developer tools*, free for SQL Server 2005 Express), which makes them attractive to the person with a low budget. Included in the family are language specific tools, as well as a tool focused on web development.
 
Please note that these particular products are aimed for hobbyists, so they contain very little other than the base tools necessary to develop an application. While you can certainly use them in conjunction with another Express product for the full development cycle, you will be forced to use two tools and to fight your way through the mire.
 
General notes: While there are ways around many of the restrictions presented in the list below (command line compiler comes to mind), the tool will fight you if you want to try to step outside of the box and still use the drag and drop ease of the tool.
  1. You cannot develop Office Applications using Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) with any of the Express products. You will have to move up to a Team System product or purchase VSTO separately for this functionality and the support will still be limited in an Express product.
  2. Data access is local only, except for Visual Web Developer (VWD), which allows you to connect to a remote server (when remote data access was missing in early beta builds of VWD, the crowd went wild).
  3. No mobile device support. If you are building PocketPC apps, you need to move up to at least standard.
  4. Limited MSDN documentation (MSDN Express) targeted at the particular Express product you own.
  5. No class designer. Must move up to Standard for this.
  6. Cannot connect to source control through the Express product.
  7. No SQL Server integration.
  8. No Server Explorer.
  9. No deployment methods included, no click once, no installer projects.
  10. XML support for XML only, no XSLT designers or support.
  11. The only extensibility to the product is adding external tools to the menu. You cannot add plug ins for this IDE.
  12. Can only debug locally
  13. Reporting support with Reporting Services only
Language Tools: The language tools are useful for creating class libraries, windows forms applications and console applications (run from the command line).
Visual C# Express
Visual J# Express – Java syntax
Visual C++ Express
Visual Basic Express
 
Others:
Visual Web Developer Express – VB or C# for web apps.
SQL Server 2005 Express – lite version of the SQL Server 2005 database.
 
Standard ($299, $199 upgrade)
Standard is much better than Visual Studio .NET Standard, which was not much more than Visual Studio Learning edition. It is designed for small ISV (Independent Software Vendors), largely for one man shops without heavy needs. While this edition is better than the Visual Studio .NET days, it is still a rather streamlined product. It is the minimum level I would probably want to develop at, but I would aim for Pro if you are more than a one man shop (if not some higher level).
 
Notes:
  1. You cannot develop Office Applications using Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) . You will have to move up to a Team System product or purchase VSTO separately for this functionality and the support will still be limited in the Standard product.
  2. Only deployment method included is Click Once. There are no installer projects included.
  3. This is the lowest level version that allows remote database access outside of the VWD.
  4. This is the lowest level version with mobile development support.
  5. This is the lowest level version that allows connection to source control (sold separately)
  6. This is the lowest level with the class designer
  7. Extensibility is limited to consuming extensions
  8. No server explorer
  9. No SQL Server 2005 integration
  10. Can only debug locally
  11. Reporting support with Reporting Services only
Professional ($809, $549 upgrade):
Professional is designed for smaller shops. It includes all of the .NET languages and the full "user experience" (as opposed to a streamlined IDE).
 
Notes:
  1. Does not contain Visual Tools for Office (VSTO) support. You will have to move up to a Team System product or purchase VSTO separately for this functionality. VSTO is a better experience in Professional than the lower level SKUs.
  2. This is the lowest level with deployment projects (more than Click Once deployment).
  3. This is the lowest level that is fully extensible; you can add plug-ins for additional features.
  4. This is the lowest level that includes Crystal Reports developer tools. Please note that the deployment license is extremely limited with the included Crystal bits.
  5. This is the lowest level with SQL Server 2005 integration.
  6. This is the lowest level with 64-bit tools (thanks PatriotB).
  7. This is the lowest level with the server explorer.

Team System Products:

There are three Team System products: Team System Architect, Team System Developer and Team System Tester. Each contains different tools based on the role the person using it plays. There is also a Team Suite, which contains the designers from each of the Team System products.

NOTE (added 11/17/2005): According to the Team System Licensing document (tinyURL for copying: http://tinyurl.com/97pyf), each Team System product contains a CAL for the Team Foundation Server. This is not a license to install the Team Foundation Server, however.

Team Architect Tools

  • Class Designer
  • SOA Design tools – Distributed Architecture Designer
  • Logical Datacenter Designer
  • Deployment Designer

Team Developer Tools

  • Class Designer
  • Static Code Analysis
  • Code Profiling
  • Dynamic Code Analysis
  • Unit Testing
  • Code Coverage

Team Tester Tools

  • Unit Testing
  • Code Coverage
  • Test Case Management
  • Load Testing
  • Web Testing – similar to Application Center Test (ACT) in Visual Studio .NET Enterprise

Team Suite

  • All of the Designers and Tools in the individual Team System products
  • Enterprise Level Source Control (also includes SourceSafe for small teams)
  • Work Item Tracking
  • Team Portal web site functionality (using SharePoint)
  • Reports for software schedule and quality

Pricing:

  • Team System Architect – $5479 street , includes MSDN Premium subscription (much cheaper with current MSDN Universal sub – see note below)
  • Team System Developer – $5479 street , includes MSDN Premium subscription (much cheaper with current MSDN Universal sub – see note below)
  • Team System Tester – $5479 street , includes MSDN Premium subscription (much cheaper with current MSDN Universal sub – see note below)
  • Team Suite – $10,949 street, includes the Team Foundation Server and MSDN Premium subscription (much cheaper with current MSDN Universal sub – see note below)

IMPORTANT NOTE: Those who subscribe to MSDN before the switch over date can save a lot of money by taking advantage of the free upgrade to Team System (this is individual products, not the full Suite – see below). Currently MSDN Universal subscriptions run $2799 street (can find quite a bit lower), saving you thousands of dollars. There is not much time left to take advantage of this (perhaps launch date – Nov 7th). Once you upgrade, the upgrade to Team Suite is an additional $1200 (through June 30, 2006), which saves additional thousands. Act now if you are thinking about heading into Team System.

Suggestions:

Below are some general guidelines towards which product you should consider.

  • Express Products
    • Great for students and those who develop as a hobby
    • Good for those who need to develop on a very tight budget
  • Standard
    • Primarily for the very small shop or the student/hobby developer that develops in multiple languages. Minimum level I would consider for anything other than learning or hobby development
    • If you want class designer, you must go to Standard or higher
    • If you want click once deployment, you must go to Standard or higher
    • If you need remote data access for anything other than web development, you will have to go to Standard or higher
    • If you desire XSLT support, you must go to Standard or higher
  • Professional
    • Designed for small shops. I would go to Professional if you are more than 2-3 developers and would aim for Pro in most of these cases (anything more than a single developer in a shop).
    • If you want server explorer in your IDE, you have to go Pro or higher
    • If you want SQL Server 2005 integration, you have to go Pro or higher
    • If you want 64-bit compiler support, you have to go Pro or higher
  • Team System
    • Designed for large shops focused on team development
    • I would have at least one Team Suite in house to ensure you have the server bits. The designers can be used without the Team Server, but the real power is in the team collaboration.
    • For figuring out which product is best for individual members of your team, I would consult the MSDN site for Visual Studio Team System.

For more Information:

* Express products are currently free for a year, with extension of license for those who download within the period (per the FAQ).

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5 Responses to Visual Studio 2005 Information

  1. Garth says:

    Great brakedown of what each version will do. The price jump from standard to pro is sizable, but the features are completely inline.Very useful for devs that still don’t really understand what they need.

  2. Unknown says:

    Gregory, just a quick note, it appears that the Express products ( well, at least Visual Basic 2005 Express) have Click-Once install. Or at least that is the way it appears to me. On the Build Menu dropdown there is a selection for "Publish" which creates Setup files to CD/DVD (in a folder on the local drive which you can then burn to CD or DVD) that will install an application and add a shortcut to it on the Main Menu. It doesn’t appear to be very configurable ( haven’t played with it enough yet) but, at least it works. One question that I have (as well as some other people do) what exactly is meant by"Streamlined Experience" in the descriptions of the Express Editions? Thanks for all the info.james

  3. Unknown says:

    There’s a clarification to be made about 64-bit support. The official VS product info page is wrong. Standard supports creating x64 projects (not just Pro). However the tools (VS, compilers) themselves are 32-bit tools on Standard.See http://blogs.msdn.com/freik/archive/2005/11/02/488228.aspx for more info.

  4. Unknown says:

    The feature matrix which Microsoft puts out and the one which you further denote above does not really explain the specific differences between editions. A much better one would show specifics for each of the different categories. I am trying to choose between Standard and Professional but I really do not understand what are the specific differences between them them. What are the actual differences for:1) "Extensibility is limited to consuming extensions" for the standard versus " you can add plug-ins for additional features" for the professional.2) "Click Once" deployment for the standard versus " deployment projects" for the professional.etc. etc. I think you get the idea. MS sounds like they are explaining the difference in the various editions but they really are not.

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