Getting back into coding, which version of Visual Studio should I focus on?

I've coded forever in VB6 and know it cold.  Now that that job is (finally!) over I need to update my skills and play catch up (by about 10 years...ouch).  I know that the .NET versions are a huge learning curve but I'm looking forward to it.  :)

As I've not followed the development and stability of newer versions and 2010 is about to be released, what are your recommendations as to which version to learn/focus on?  I'm also going to add coding to my consulting services once I'm up to speed - which version(s) are the majority of available jobs coded in and would learning 2010 and not knowing previous versions be a problem?  Also, VB or C++ since I have to basically learn so much from the ground up?
dcfollasAsked:
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käµfm³d 👽Connect With a Mentor Commented:
Excluding v 1.x, which a few people are still using (for some weird reason), v 2.0 is the foundation for all subsequent frameworks. 3.x added some new features (like WCF, WPF, & WF), but the core is relatively the same. 4.0 has added support for parallel programming (including working in the cloud).

As far as VS versions, if you want to work with the parallel stuff, then you'll need VS 2010; otherwise, you can safely use VS 2008 to handle 2.0- and 3.x-targeted applications. You can still make multi-threaded applications with VS 2008 and VS 2005, there's just going to be more work on your part as to thread management.

Here's a quick matrix of framework to VS version. Going down the list, any version will handle targeting a framework listed above it.

    VS          FW
    ===========
    2003      1.x
    2005      2.0
    2008      3.x
    2010      4.0
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käµfm³d 👽Commented:
I see I didn't expand on my 2nd paragraph...  I surely intended to.

Continuing, you would need to use VS 2008 to write WCF, WPF, or WF applications. 2005 will allow you to write basic console, forms, and ASP.NET applications.

Let me emphasize again, that going forward, you should be able to write the same kinds of applications you would write in an earlier version of VS with a newer version. So given what I said in the above paragraph, you can write WCF, WPF, and WF applications with VS 2010. In fact, VS 2010 itself was written as a WPF application.
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Vikram Singh SainiConnect With a Mentor Software Engineer cum AD DeveloperCommented:
I'm also going to add coding to my consulting services once I'm up to speed

In that case I would recommend you to be updated with latest technology. And as far concerned with IDE you should (if it is feasible) use one that suits your requirements.

However it would be always nice idea to make your grounding strong from basic to advanced for strong concepts.

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AndyAinscowConnect With a Mentor Freelance programmer / ConsultantCommented:
>>2010 is about to be released

Actually it was released quite a long time ago.  I'd go for that version.  VS2008 had a few problems (so I have read) and VS2005 is now very old.

ps.  You should be able to download the free express version (note it is purely for your own usage and a couple of things are missing from it compared to a commercial version) so you can test before purchase
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käµfm³d 👽Commented:
@AndyAinscow

>>  note it is purely for your own usage

I've heard and read otherwise otherwise. AF\AIK, the only limitations come in the form of what templates are installed and non-support for certain projects (e.g. mobile projects).
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AndyAinscowFreelance programmer / ConsultantCommented:
I understood you could not compile and distribute programs for commercial/business use, even giving them away could be problematic but one would need to read the licence agreement thoroughly
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