Niner Interview Questions: Rico Mariani - Visual Studio Futures (Interview is Complete)

The Discussion

  • User profile image
    I have a couple of questions.

    1. ScottGu mentioned in the PDC keynote that VS2010 would finally support multiple monitors. Could you elaborate and go into more detail on that? Will i for example be able to have the HTML designer open on one monitor and the HTML markup editor on the other, and see the changes as i make on either monitor be reflected on the other one (we already can sort of with the split view). That would certainly be a killer feature in my eyes Smiley

    2. Will Visual Studio move to a Ribbon based UI? Given how many features Visual Studio supports and all the menu items and toolbars, and not nearly everyone knowing about them all, I'd see VS as a prime candidate for "ribbonization". I do know the Ribbon is a heated topic for many but in my opinion VS would most definitely benefit from it.

    I'm looking forward to this interview. A lot of interesting and awesome changes are coming in VS2010. Also, thanks for a wonderful PDC, it was my second time there and i had a blast Smiley
  • User profile image

    Any plans to fully intergrate Visual Studio with Expression Web and Blend for the "creative professionals" who also code--web designers and web developers?
  • User profile image
    What is the status of Visual Studio integration with upcoming languages. I know F# is going to be fully supported, but what about in different scenarios, such as ASP.NET. And what about the upcoming dynamic languages (IronRuby and IronPython)?
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    I'd like to see more granularity when installing it, by which I mean I'd like be able to not install more of those parts of Visual Studio I never use. I normally use the Professional version of Visual Studio but am always envious of the start up, shut down and general agility (not to mention lack of resource hogging) that Express users get to enjoy. I don't use any of the design surfaces in Visual Studio Professional, I don't use any of the web or DB surface / explorer stuff either. Really I'd just like to only pay the memory, resource and disk tax for stuff I really use. Yes I can choose not to install VB and device support etc, but once I have a small solution with both C++ and C# components in it and look at the system resources it's consuming then it's a total hog and frequently takes ages to exit when I try to close Visual Studio (I am running this on decent hardware by the way...) We all know this, even Anders frequently jokes about it Smiley

    I'd also like to see Visual Studio and the Windows SDK adopt PowerShell rather than cmd.exe as its standard build shell.

    I don't understand why after 8 years we still don't have a pseudo variable in the managed debugger to represent the return value of a function. In C++ I can always look at EAX to see the return value, clearly I can't do this for managed code - but the only alternative is to have to explicitly declare a useless local variable in the code just so I can return that (and be able to inspect it) rather than be able to inspect a directly returned expression once I've stepped over it to the closing brace of the fn. And finally it's about time that the 'Find In Files' functionality was given some love. It's a constant pain that you can't have a running history of find results (yes you can choose to output it to Find 1 or Find 2 but more often than not, especially when grokking unfamiliar code, I want a deeper history). It would be awesome to have a research results view to which the latest find results where just appended, rather than replacing the previous results (this is the only reason I keep a copy of TextPad on my machine).

    I appreciate this sounds like "I want, I want", but really aside from my 3D package, Visual Studio is my desktop. It's where I spend all my time. I love the app and deeply appreciate it as a tool to turn ideas into running code - I just want to see some of those rough edges filed down.
  • User profile image
    1. Out of curiosity, approximately what will be the proportion of managed (WPF) to unmanaged code that VS2010 we be built upon?

    2. What are your thoughts on ribbon for VS?

    3. Code editor and refactoring capabilities are getting better with every release but third party tools like Resharper are still kind of necessary for any serious development. Are you deliberately leaving room for these tools on the market or is it just a matter of time when you will catch up and provide the coding comfort that for instance Java IDEs have out of the box?

    Looking forward to that interview!
  • User profile image

    MEF is a big deal so id like to hear more technical stuff about that Smiley

    • how do you manage the addins? just through the filesystem?
    • can i enable/disable them? can i controll how they load from within VS?
    • can i have two addins that "do" the same thing? like two diffrent right-margin enhancements? will it blow up? load both? (im hpoing for load both and putting them next to each other)

    got some other questions as well Smiley

    • have the use of wpf in the new designer influenced the .net4 platform or wpf in n4? in what ways?
    • when can we see an installable (or simply the next) ctp? Wink (i know dan unsucessfully tried to get that out of soma, but it cant hurt to try again;) )
    • whats has been the feedback so far on the current ctp and what ahs been the vs-teams respons to that feedback? (in terms of changes or decisions not to make changes)
    • also, are there any new plans for the team suite pringing? its waaaaaay to expensive.. 10x of vs pro.. there is no way i can get my manages to shell out that much Sad and why is it so tightly coupled with the msdn subscription? i just want VSTS, i dont need that other stuff, why am i forced to buy that again, i already have most of it already :/ id like to see alot more granulatiy there, perhaps even to the point where you would buy indivdual designers from within VS (or by useing a licensing server) or perhaps that you could "rent" parts of VS for a limited time. this really tied in to the "connected" part of his blog post
  • User profile image
    In Scott Gu's Silverlight Three blog post, he mentions a Silverlight Designer available for Visual Studio and Visual Web Developer Express (right at the bottom).

    I think you can safely assume a WPF one is on the way. Whether there is feature parity is another question, but Visual studio contains the Expression web product for HTML, so it seems ludicrous to me for them to create yet another editor for WPF.
  • User profile image
    I would like to know why he thinks the ribbon UI is an option for Visual Studio. I actually argue against it. I have recently built an application with a few ribbons, and I don't have one on every form. The reason why is  that it takes up a lot of space, which is why Outlook for example does not have it as the front UI.

    If anything the commands I use the most are F5 and the debugging stuff, so having a ribbon control would take up a lot of space unnecessarily. I also don't edit the code in C# or VB but only write it, so having the commands like MS words are pointless, because even though you have a lot of commands like word, you need to access them far less frequently in VS than in word. The halfway-house will be a smart collapsible ribbon...probably

    I also am for the ability to choose exactly what I need Visual Studio to install. Yes you have a few options, but it inevitably installs loads of other stuff you have no control over.

    I also think you need to ask Rico why they have opted for a folder with a clock in the VS 2010 start page? It does not denote recent documents, projects or files to me, so they really need more descriptive icons on the VS 2010 start page. Please please please ask if they will have an overhaul of all the icons in visual studio, because a lot of them are meaningless.

    I would also like Rico pressed for just what will be WPF based in VS2010, and what will be done in future versions? What are the priorities?
  • User profile image
    1. What will Visual Studio do to improve code comprehension?
    2. When will we see a first-class REPL in Visual Studio?
    3. How will MSDN evolve with Visual Studio?

    I want tools for extracting as much useful information as possible out of legacy code. Programmers spend an inordinate percentage of their careers deciphering code somebody else (or even themselves but a long time ago) wrote, almost all of which is either poorly documented, undocumented, or even obfuscated either purposefully (in a misguided attempt at "job security"), through negligence, or even incompetence. We spend so much time figuring out clever ways to how to make code faster, smaller, and more expressive. I would like to see us invest in figuring out how to present our clever algorithms in human-comprehensible ways.

    I want a first-class REPL in Visual Studio. The REPL, not the editor, should be the primary window for some code writing scenarios. Being able to edit XAML and see the changes live in preview, for instance, is a joy compared to the dump-and-chase of edit-and-compile. I'm a text editor guy, not a visual designer guy, but nonetheless I like to see the effect of my changes as quickly as possible without lengthy pauses while the computer has to think while it recompiles code.

    API documentation in MSDN could be improved by de-emphasizing the parts made redundant or mostly unnecessary by IntelliSense and capturing and highlighting the semantic parts which aren't captured by IntelliSense and API method signatures, the stuff that, to date, lives and hides mostly in code samples or snippets on programmer blogs and shared code repositories (e.g., Programmers these days don't hit F1 for help in Visual Studio any more. They Google it. MSDN needs a cartographer's touch. It can be difficult to find things without (and sometimes even with) a search engine.


    Code URL's - Enable hyperlinks to code. We have the ability to embed hyperlinks in our code comments. What if we made source spans destinations which you could link from hyperlinks in other sections of your code, your TFS work items, source check-in comments, Web pages, or Word documents?

    Make it trivial to save code snippets written in REPL's. That's the one big weakness many REPL's fail to address. Imagine that you've just written this great chunk of code in a REPL. Now how are you going to save that? Right now the only place it lives (you hope it's there anyways) is in the REPL's history buffer. We should be able to dump that buffer (or some selection from it) to the clipboard, to a file, to IM or email, or to a Visual Studio .snippet file as effortlessly as possible.

    Links to code samples and snippets from MSDN API pages. A concrete example of this is a PDC 2008 talk about code signing ( The WinVerifyTrust API page on MSDN ( should link to this. This needs to happen every time we do a PDC or Conference. There's too much stuff like this going on to be done manually so let's use Live Search and automate this sort of semantic linking. This not only makes these API pages more useful but increases the likelihood that they'll rank higher in search engines, without having to game the search engine algorithms. It's SEO done right; our MSDN API pages become popular, because they're actually more useful, not just because they're expected to be.

  • User profile image

    I use Visual Studio day in and day out and I’ve been using it since the first version.

     In many ways I feel that Visual Studio has lost its way as a tool that I’m excited by and that I want to use.

     All too often I find myself excited by the new feature that are going to be coming in the next version of VS (VS2005 had so much going for it), but when I have to keep using it day in and day out, VS begins to get more in my way.

    I remember back to the early versions of VS and every day I found little features that delighted me and made me keep a look out for niftier ways to do the same repetitive tasks I had been doing before.

     However when I’m using VS now it feels like I’m driving a semi truck…sure it will get me to my destination and sure it has everything I could possibly need, but using VS is hardly as fun or as exciting as it used to be.

    So my 3 questions would be:

     1) We keep seeing new tools (Blend, Expression, the new Test Runner) that are designed from the ground up to be outside of VS. The end user experience is much more exciting in these tools.
    The UIs, features, and functionality of these tools are exciting, these tools while outside of VS also integrate into VS. What are your thoughts about taking tools out of VS and putting them into their own user experience?

    2) When is Visual Studio going to focus on someone besides Mort (the persona you guys use internally)? So many of the college grads entering the field aren’t excited by Visual Studio and so they go on to work with other tools that are designed for the hipster developers in Silicon Valley.

    3) As I mentioned, I see Visual Studio as being more of a Semi Truck in terms of being a vehicle, so when are we going to have a light, fast, aggressive, Porchse\Prius version of Visual Studio?

  • User profile image
    Pawel Pabich
    I would love to hear about 64 bit version of VS. I know it's not going to happen in the near future as VS is based on COM but still, it would be nice to know what MS is doing in this regard.

  • User profile image
    When will see decent support for Windows Installer projects? This feature hasn't changed since 2002 and the full capabilities of the technology were never used (like patching).
  • User profile image
    Once and for all could we have better support for COM development with DUAL INTERFACES.

    I'd like to see the window furniture take up less space, not more. Not everyone has enormous displays, and vertical real estate is highly desirable.

    Will the GP-GPU support be in VS2010, or is it planned to be part of a future Direct-X SDK?

  • User profile image
    This is interview is over. No more questions, please. Thanks and by the way, all questions were asked (except the one this post is replying to given that the interview has already happened).

    Thanks for all the great questions.


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