Between a rock and a hard place: Visual Studio 2010 service pack and LightSwitch

I wrote the following last week, but had to postpone publishing to work on something else. I’ll leave it intact, but conclude with an update that makes the rant only partially relevant.


Trying to use Visual Studio 2010 for developing three new projects over the past 6 months has felt like clawing my way out of a peat bog while wearing concrete overshoes: every step is excruciating and unproductive. I expected it to be a steep learning curve since I was jumping straight from VS.NET 1.1 to Visual Studio 2010. I did not expect to have so much pain just sussing out which combination of techniques and frameworks would be stable and productive. A steep learning curve is one thing: finding brick walls suddenly springing up at every third step is another.

Here is an example of the pain I’ve experienced working with Visual Studio 2010 since last fall. Last week, I started work on a converted AS.NET 1.1 webform and found the design time view was broken with the message “error creating control.” Assuming the problem was mine, I went through the usual diagnostics. After several hours of debugging hitting my head against a brick wall, I finally searched the forums and blogs. I recalled that this was the Visual Studio 2010 bug that I’d resolved by installing the beta 1 service pack. The side-affect of this, though, was that it broke the LightSwitch Beta 1 I was previewing for its potential use in a project. While maddening, I couldn’t really complain since they were, after all, both betas. I was only glad I’d found the information without too much trouble. I uninstalled the Visual Studio Service Pack Beta 1 and gave up the LightSwitch review for the time being.

Anyway, I looked for release version of the Visual Studio 2010 service pack 1, and found it had been released. Yea. (Cue screeching tire sounds.) However, I read this in the service pack overview:

If you installed Visual Studio 2010 Service Pack 1 Beta, you should not uninstall it before installing this release of SP1.

What to do if one has already  uninstalled SP 1 Beta, as I had? While pondering that I checked to see what impact it had on LightSwitch, and found that the released service pack still breaks the LightSwitch beta 1. Okay, that’s a disappointment and I more-or-less cross LightSwitch off my list when I can’t find anything about any imminent fix for the problem. Ordinarily I wouldn’t dream of using a beta product for a client’s application–not even for a proof-of-concept, but, right now? My clients and I need to be productive, and I’m just not seeing any tools that offer anything like rapid applications development.


Update

Before I had a chance to post, I found in my RSS feed that there was a newly posted LightSwitch Beta 2! I couldn’t have been more pleased. Well, yes, I could have, and was, when I installed it and it worked with Visual Studio SP 1. Hurray! Now I can continue to support the creaking ASP.NET 1.1 app and start working on some MVC3 and LightSwitch prototypes.

I am very glad that things seem to be coming together for different products. The scaffolding for MVC3 is one  hopeful sign, as are the final SP release for Visual Studio 2010 and beta 2 of LightSwitch. Is it foolish of me to hope that the smart, but sometimes disconnected, folks at MS are thinking again about how to help me be productive?

By the way, I hope this isn’t a portent of how closely or distantly the LightSwitch and other Visual Studio teams work. It seems like the incompatibility between the betas would have been uncovered earlier if they were, indeed, working together. OTOH, I know that these things happen. Just, Microsoft, do, please, take RAD seriously.

ETA: I installed the Visual Studio Service Pack without reinstalling the beta, and it seemed to work fine. YMMV.

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