Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Big Step: Microsoft Visual Studio

So it finally had to happen. I purchased and started to use Visual Studio 2005. After using Borland C++ Builder for more than 10 years for all my Windows (and even DOS) programming, the Pocket PC platform turned out be the decision maker. From the start the only way to write programs for the Pocket PC platform has been through Microsoft. And they also made it very easy by giving away the free Embedded Visual Basic, followed by Embedded VisualC. But today, now everybody has a Pocket PC, none of these tools is being supported, and they also refuse to work with the new Windows Mobile 5 devices. Now this could be a great starting point for some Microsoft bashing, but actually I read some explanation on a MS-Developer blog that makes sense. Since the embedded versions where completely separate projects within Microsoft, the development and support started to suffer from the fact that the developers also worked on the commercial Visual Studio product. And it's just a fact of life that supporting a commercial product has a higher priority...
But I've written all my software using EVC 3 and 4. And so I struggled some time by using old PocketPC's for debugging, actually waiting for Borland to come up with the 'Delphi for PocketPC'. But I don't think this will happen for a while, and I even wonder if they ever will produce something for the PocketPC platform. So I finally had to get Visual Studio 2005 to continue supporting my embedded Visual C apps. Fortunately I could go for an Visual Studio 2005 Upgrade, because I already owned C++ Builder, making it a bearable € 250,-.
And now I must agree, the Visual Studio environment a a giant leap forward compared to the old EVC programs. The editor is much more up to date, it compiles faster, has a better debugger, and (surprise, surprise) also supports direct emulation on your desktop PC, even when your program uses ActiveX controls or external DLL's !.