Microsoft Visual Studio .NET Enterprise Architect

Microsoft Visual Studio .NET Enterprise Architect

$2,499.00 $2,399.99

  • Release Date: 13 February, 2002
  • Availability: This item is not stocked or has been discontinued.
  • Third Party Used Price: $1490.00
Microsoft's .NET Framework for creating software applications holds tremendous promise, but it also introduces new challenges. Simply put, because .NET applications are distributed, pieces of them run on many separate computers and usually involve elaborate databases with many interlinked tables. Often, there are several human interfaces, at least one of which is served over a Web connection.

When you're building such elaborate systems, you need specialists. Which means you--the architect--need to make your specialists work as a team. You need to make each specialist aware of how their piece fits into the larger system, and allow each expert maximum room for creativity while ensuring that they comply with quality standards and documentation rules. The best tool available for marshaling specialists toward a comprehensive .NET application of professional quality is Visual Studio .NET Enterprise Architect (VSEA). It gives project leads the tools they need to think big thoughts while remaining sufficiently close to the coding to ensure their proper implementation.

To begin, VSEA incorporates the new Visual Studio .NET development environment completely. All of the tools in Microsoft's latest IDE--code editor, debugger, object browser, database browser--are present in this edition. If you have implementation responsibilities of your own, or if you're one of those project leads who goes hands-on to solve low-level problems, VSEA provides you with the tools you need.

VSEA also ships with the goodies that come with Visual Studio Enterprise Developer: Visual SourceSafe and developer-licensed copies of Windows 2000 Advanced Server, SQL Server, Exchange Server, Commerce Server, and Host Integration Server. VSEA owners will get .NET Server when it's released. In addition, VSEA tops Enterprise Developer's offerings with a developer's edition of BizTalk Server.

There's also an attractive set of utilities for designing applications, roughing out application framework, and publishing standards for use by specialist programmers. This is where VSEA really shines, and where it earns its premium price. If you put the architectural tools to good use, your organization stands to realize a great return on investment in the form of increased team efficiency, higher quality, and satisfied deadlines.

VSEA allows you to use Microsoft Visio to design your applications and the databases that underlie them. It's true that you can generate Unified Modeling Language (UML) and database schematics in the standalone version of Visio Professional; but VSEA provides enormous time savings by allowing you to convert your diagrams into actual code. You can create a UML diagram in Visio, then use it to generate a code skeleton--all required class outlines, with inheritance, properties, and methods in place--in C++, C#, or Visual Basic. You can then publish the generated skeleton to your programming team for fleshing out. This is the role that Rational Visual Modeler plays (or used to play) for many developers.

Database modeling in VSEA is even cooler, because you can either export your schematic diagrams as Data Definition Language (DDL) code, or hook into an actual database server via an ODBC or OLE DB connection and generate the tables you've modeled in Visio. It's extraordinarily efficient. In fact, VSEA blurs the lines that have traditionally separated design, implementation, and documentation.

VSEA supports an XML-based language called Template Description Language (TDL), with which you can dictate characteristics of project files in more junior programmers's Visual Studio .NET environments. You can use TDL policies to turn off elements of the Visual Studio workspace, for example. Similarly, policies allow you to preset properties of code elements (such as database connections) that programmers can include as modules in their projects. You can also use TDL to describe the contents of team members's New Project windows, adding code snippets and reference materials alongside starter projects with policies attached.

Be aware that TDL policies may only be interpreted by users of Visual Studio .NET Enterprise Developer; they're not meaningful to users of standalone Visual Studio .NET. Also, be prepared to edit the TDL files manually, as Microsoft hasn't provided good tools for writing and modifying them. Setting up developer environments is a big job that has a huge effect on the later success of your project. It's sort of like tooling up a factory before a production run, so be prepared to spend some time setting policies, writing reference material, and configuring your TDL policies.

Is VSEA worthwhile? The answer depends in part on how well you set your policies, and on your development team's eagerness to use centrally managed reference materials and design advice. Embraced wholeheartedly by a large team, VSEA is not just the only show in town for team development of .NET applications--it's a powerful tool for realizing the vision of a software designer. --David Wall

Customer Rating: 3.78 of 5 (9 total reviews)

  • 5 starsThe Best Tool For The Programming World!

    Most of you reading this review will have used a Microsoft Compiler before, or a Borland product. If you have yet to experience .NET, you are missing out big time.

    Interface (2 sections):
    First Impressions 8/10 - I started up Visual Studio .NET only to see everything... EVERYTHING has been changed in some way. The reason why this gets an 8 is because it does not do well with new people coming to this product. But once you learn the interface and can get used to it:
    Current Impressiosn 10/10 - You will find that it is much more productive interface than Visual Studio 6. Now if your coming from Borland products, you will find that C# and VB is great, and can compete directly with Borland.

    Usefullness: 9/10 - It is just amazing how much you can do with this program, although it does have a few drawbacks, UML for example, but this can be overlooked.

    Value: 8/10 - If you can afford it, but the reason I gave it an 8, is because it is expensive, and most people will not be able to afford this product, but those that are able to do so, should. Maybe in a few years, this will replace VS 6 in price :D

    Final Score 9/10 - If you use C++, Visual Basic, or even the great C# that has just come out, you will love this product. The optimization is great.

    Final Words: Buy it, if not this, at least Visual Studio 6, but VS .NET wins the battle of the two!

  • 3 starsGreat product, but look at the requirements!

    I come from a Visual Basic (3 and newer) and C/C++ background doing a great deal of development under both Windows and Unix. The software looks great and is quite user friendly (for a development environment). My biggest concern is the sheer size of the tool and the runtime environment. Among other things, I am a shareware author and a great number of prospective customers do not yet have the .NET runtime, which is a 24 MB download. Though I would not think twice about downloading such a file, those who are still dialing up to the Internet might think twice.

    Overall, nice tool, but I am not yet convinced it is the most prudent tool for me and Visual Studio 6 is going to have a long lifetime despite this successor.

  • 5 starsOutstanding

    The most "programming" I've ever done was a bit of server-side JavaScript - but with the IDE and the online help, I've had no problem sitting down and just chugging away at C#. The problem someone noted about needing an interpreter is incorrect: the Native Code Compiler included with the .NET SDK (installed with VS or available separately) can compile Microsoft's IL into machine code for Windows.

    Definitely worth the learning curve if this is your thing!