Visual Studio 2005 Release Candidate thoughts for web projects part 1 – level 100

I’ve now installed Visual Studio 2005 Release Candidate on a virtual pc with Windows 2003 Server SP1.  My primary focus at this point is the web projects.  I love ASP.NET, and I think it is a brilliant runtime.  I have a website management framework built on ASP.NET, and I commend the folks at Microsoft for this great framework.  I’ve kept up with ASP.NET 2.0 since Beta 1 came out, and Whidbey Beta 1 was stable enough to work alongside VS.NET 2003 on my dev machine for a long time. 

There are a number of items I was displeased with during the Beta cycle.  One issue was excluding files from a web projects.  In Beta 2 it wasn’t possible.  With the RC, it is possible, but the IDE appends “.exclude” to the end of the file name.  If you exclude BrokenClass.cs, it becomes “BrokenClass.cs.exclude”.  This works as far as Visual Studio is concerned, but this will cause headaches in a real development environment.  For instance, source control systems don’t support renaming that well.  Those that do require a manual step to associate the history of a file with the new renamed file.  The IDE just renames the file and goes on.  It’s a partial solution, but it’s a shame that this has to be so hard. 

Using this “feature” isn’t going to be feasible in real-world situations.  A developer would “exclude” a file from the project when he wants to ignore it.  It’s not an acceptable scenario to allow the automatic renaming of files that just happen to be in that directory tree.  What’s worse, you can’t exclude a folder. . . only the files inside (which now requires a renaming of them). 

Excluding files from a read web project is not supported in Visual Studio 2005.  We’ll have to live with a workaround.  This thing that they _call_ “exclude from project” isn’t usable, so it can’t be called a feature.  It will only work in the most trivial of web projects that are isolated from the real world:  MSDN Events demos.

I still don’t understand what is SO special about web projects that they don’t deserve a project file like the rest of the project types.  Scott Guthrie makes some statements here if you care to read about some other points.  Overall, the Microsoft team has done much more good than harm, and I commend them for that, and I’m also glad that they are open to accepting feedback.