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Random Thoughts on Visual Studio 2008 SP1

12 Aug , 2008  

As the world knows, Visual Studio 2008 SP1 is out so start your download engines. I’ve installed it on one machine so far and I thought I’d mention a few things I found interesting.

  • The install took exactly an hour for me and was far better than the Visual Studio 2005 SP1 torture. After the first Next click I just let it run and didn’t have to baby sit it. I installed off the ISO version as I didn’t want to take any chances. I wanted all the bits with me as I was more afraid of a partial or corrupt install with the “piece at a time” download. The machine I installed on had the Team Suite edition so I knew I’d need everything anyway.
  • While many Microsoft folks have blogged about their team’s particular adds to SP1, you can find the complete list of added features and bug fixes in Knowledge Base article 945140. Based on the number of features added, the version number really needs to change. However, I’m not complaining!
  • All my .NET applications certainly feel much faster because of the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 speedups. I wish I would have taken some startup timing statistics because even WPF applications start reasonably quickly now.
  • Visual Studio has a new icon! I guess that will make it easier for us to tell the difference between Dev 9 and the rapidly approaching Dev 10.
  • Is there a story behind the option dialog UI change? Notice that the checkboxes are now flat instead of 3-d.
  • I love the new debugger option to cancel Symbol Server PDB file downloads. This is a great option on slower connections:
  • Another favorite debugger feature is that on managed code the debugger looks when you are stepping into a method and if it’s a small property or operator, it turns the step into a step over. Now you don’t have to apply the DebuggerStepThroughAttribute to all your one line methods.
  • Now the debugger knows about the .NET Reference Source Code out of the box. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, Microsoft has not posted the correct PDB files for the .NET 3.5 SP1 release. There are PDB files up on the public symbol servers, but they do not contain any of the Source Server indexing. The previous version of System.PDB was 6.68 MB. Now it’s 595 KB and definitely contains none of the appropriate reference strings. Also, my NetMassDownloader just returns Bad Request when trying to access the code. I’ll let you know what I find out from Microsoft.
  • My personal favorite new feature is that Step Into Specific has finally made it to managed code. Say you have a line of code like the following:

    OuterMethod ( InnerMethod ( ) );
    Prior to SP1, if you did a Step Into, you always stepped into InnerMethod whether you liked it or not. Now, if you want to step into OuterMethod, right click on the line and behold the magic of Step Into Specific:

  • The TFS updates are totally dreamy. Brian Harry has the complete list here.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for pointing out those new debugger features — I haven’t seen them mentioned anywhere else.

    Unless I’m mistaken the new option to step over properties & operators does not consider complexity, so I think I’d rather keep this option turned off and continue to mark trivial getters with DebuggerStepThrough. Wouldn’t want to step through a property that does some potentially buggy calculations.

  • jrobbins


    Excellent point. I figured since you could always look at the value of the property, you could see the final calculation.

    The good news is that as you can see from the last screen shot above, you can toggle it on and off on the fly.

    -John Robbins

  • Hi John,

    Great post! Thought I’d let you know that I’m looking into why the PDBs available are stripped of source code info. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    The install went even faster for me, it took approx. 25 mins. Much welcome indeed!

    Also, the checkboxes have gone flat not only on that specific Options property page, but also on debugger tooltips. Minor ugliness, but ugly it certainly is. I’d also love to know why.

  • In mid January the first release of the .NET Framework 3.5 reference sources occurred. In mid February

  • Hi John,

    I have released a new version of netmassdownloader , which can download the sourcecode for SP1, it is version 1.4 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Is any one else having major problems with VS 2008. I don’t know if the service pack will fix any of this, but I am tearing my hair out. Im used to using C++ or lower level languages and it just seems like the time I’ve saved, I’ve put back in 3 fold, Ironing out the bugs. The Timers don’t deactivate using timer.enabled = false, sendkeys which has for some reason been changed to is sending random keys I have not told it to. Closing a form is telling me that it has resources which have not been released and they have. The seems to do nothing. Using {Space} in sendkeys does not work even though this is the suggested method on the microsoft website (I have established now that using ” ” actually works). Why oh why is this software so buggy? Its not my code because I’ve tested certain things and it even appears to be running code after the breakpoint I put in (but not my code, just random occurances, and yet the line before the breakpoint was actually excecuted??)

  • Anonymous

    also it appears there is no longer an add watch function, which makes it very difficult to debug

  • Anonymous

    Why not add same to VS2005? Shame on MS… 🙂