Visual Studio 2010 Beta is public and can be freely downloaded from here, and you can choose from 2 editions: Visual Studio 2010 Professional Edition and Visual Studio Team System 2010.
I downloaded a few weeks ago the Team System edition and started to make some projects and discover what’s new. The most interesting thing I found new in this version is the UML support (finally, I don’t need another tool to design the diagrams!) and the architecture support, in a new window called Architecture Explorer. I tried to find some detailed information about what can be done with this new functionality, but unfortunately I didn’t find enough, so I was back to my initial thought: just try and see what it can do!
You can view the Architecture Explorer window by selecting it in the View menu (for now it does not have a key shortcut combination). A new window will appear and you have 2 ways of viewing an exiting project from the architectural perspective:
- Class View
- Solution View
The basic idea of this Architecture Explorer is that it allows you to navigate easy between different levels of the project, going from a top and general view (the solution’s projects, for example) inside a more detailed vision (to class members and even code implementation). From one level to another there is always a new panel that can be hidden or displayed and you can go back just by clicking a intuitive arrow.
In the Class View situation, the levels for navigations would be: Namespaces -> Types (classes and interfaces) -> Members (methods or attributes for a class); If you choose a method, you can go further and see the parameters, the blocks of code and so on.
In the Solution View situation, the levels for navigations would be: Projects -> Project Items (which is like a directory structure – it contains the files and the folders in that project) -> Classes -> Members (from here it’s the same as Class View)
For each level in the Architect Explorer, there is a filter, which can be used by selecting the header of the level’s column and afterwards selecting the ‘down’ arrow, which will popup the filter’s options. I will present some of them as images, because the options are very intuitive.
The basic options on the Architect Explorer are:
- Export DGML File – allows you to save the DGML (Directed Graph Markup Language) file somewhere on the disk; If you want to find out more about DGML, read here.
- Refresh Content – refreshes the Architecture Explorer‘s visual content
- Save Query to Favorites – afterwards you can access it via the Architecture Explorer window
- Create new Graph Document and populate it with the contents of the current selection – you must select a element layer, and VS will generate for you a diagram (using Directed Graph Markup Language) that contains the full path you got to that element; You can see this diagram in the main window and also, you can see the generated dgml code (but more on that in another post)
- Copy the selected nodes from the Architect Explorer to the current active Document Graph , which will add in the current diagram the nodes and the relationships between them, like this:
That’s just a preview on what the Architect Explorer can do, I hope this made you curious and you’ll give it a try and use it, because it has great flexibility, it is intuitive, user-friendly and also:
- It can generate diagrams from existing code (this is a great advantage of build-in tools).
- It makes it easier to explain a certain part of a solution to any team member.
- It simplifies the communication process between the team members (architects and developers).
- It offers a simple and efficient way of understanding the system and its components, the way they are related and can be used; it will reduce considerably the time needed to get acquainted with the code and the project.