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For the past few months, I’ve been looking at how to improve the web development experience in Visual Studio. This summer I released the Web Standards Update which brings HTML5 and CSS3 to Visual Studio, and a few weeks back Web Essentials was published.

This week I’ve been working on a proof of concept that eliminates the need for typing curly braces, colons and semi-colons when working with CSS. In non-English keyboard layouts, these characters can be rather difficult to type, because you need to use SHIFT and ALT to get to them.

Here is a quick demonstration of how to write CSS without the need for these characters.

I’ve been using this for about a day now on an English keyboard and I am so much more productive writing CSS. What I’m really interested in though, is whether or not YOU are when using this extension. Also, is it annoying, in your way, a waste of time, or the best thing EVAR!! Please try it out and let me know. I’d appreciate any feedback on this. Thank you!

Try it today!

Download the SpeedTyping extension for Visual Studio 2010 and let me know what you think on Twitter

Who knows, we might add this to the next version of Visual Studio…

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Web Standards Update for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 SP1We just released the first Web Standards Update for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 SP1. Despite its name, the update also works for Visual Web Developer Express 2010 SP1. You can read more on our team blog.

In this first release of the update, we have focused on bringing the HTML5 support up-to-date, adding CSS 3 support and bring more new API’s to the JavaScript intellisense.  The plan is to make a release on a regular schedule to keep Visual Studio updated with the changes made by W3C.

HTML5

Last year, we managed to sneak in HTML5 support when working on SP1 for Visual Studio 2010. Normally, a service pack is about bug fixes but we found that HTML5 was so important that the lack of it should be considered a bug. Unfortunately we where not able to do the same with CSS3 or the JavaScript API’s, but it was a good start.

Due to a combination of the instability of the HTML5 specifications at the time and the resources we had to add HTML5 support for SP1, we ended up with very descent support for both intellisense and validation. Now the HTML5 specifications are more stabile and some additions and modifications have been made by the W3C since then. It’s therefore a good time to update the HTML5 and XHTML5 schema files that Visual Studio uses under the hood to provide intellisense and validation.

Among the changes are:

  • Added missing elements like u, s and bdi
  • The type attribute is no longer required on script elements
  • The source element is now supported inside video and audio elements
  • Support for microdata including intellisense for schema.org vocabularies
  • Full WAI-ARIA intellisense

CSS3

For CSS3 we were not as lucky as we were with getting HTML5 into SP1. This was largely due to a combination of time and resources in terms of available developers. CSS3 is more difficult because the specifications change much more frequently than the specification for HTML5. For us it is a constant battle with keeping up to date with these changes and subsequently getting them into the next version of this update. That way we make sure that you will always have the latest and most accurate CSS3 support in Visual Studio.

The CSS3 support includes:

  • Will not invalidate filter, zoom and behaviorproperties
  • Have intellisense for vendor specific schemas (-ms-*, -moz-* and -webkit-*)
  • Up-to-date intellisense and validation for CSS3 properties and values

JavaScript

We’ve gotten a lot of customers asking for better intellisense for some of the new web API’s such as DOM Storage and Geolocation. In this update we are including intellisense for a lot of the API’s found in EcmaScript 5 including:

  • New selectors such as getElementByClassName
  • Geolocation, DOM storage and other new web API’s

More info

Check out the unofficial announcement or Scott Hanselman’s run-through

Download

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to download the Web Standards Update for Visual Studio SP1and try it out today. It’s a small and quick install.

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Since the release of Visual Studio 2010 SP1 beta last month, there has been a lot of questions regarding the support for HTML5 and CSS3.

HTML5

Visual Studio 2010 was originally released without HTML5 support, so does SP1 finally add support for it? Yes, to some extent. The entire HTML5 specification isn’t supported but most of the new elements and attributes are. That means you get both intellisense and validation for HTML5 with SP1.

Turn it on

After installing SP1 you have to tell Visual Studio to start using the HTML5 schema. Go to Tools -> Options, and then select Text Editor -> HTML -> Validation. You should now be able to select HTML5 or XHTML5 as the target schema.

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Or if you have the HTML Source Editing toolbar enabled, you can select it in the target schema dropdown.

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Intellisense support

The new elements that are specific to HTML5 are shown in the intellisense list as you would expect.

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Even the new HTML5 specific attribute values for existing elements are shown.

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Prior to SP1 there had been a bug that caused a runtime error when an input element used some of the new type attribute values such as email in conjunction with runat=”server”.

<input type="email" runat="server" />

This error has been fixed and will be included in the final SP1. However, it is not part of SP1 beta. In the meantime, you can use the Textbox control instead which doesn’t cause the error.

<asp:textbox type="email" runat="server" />

CSS3

In SP1 there are a few improvements in the CSS3 support as well, though not as elaborate as with HTML5. The editor now supports the more advanced selectors such as div:nth-child(2n+1)without giving validation errors and the new color values rgba, hsl, hsla and 8 digit hex values are also supported.

Start today

The conclusion is that with Visual Studio today, you can build HTML5 and CSS3 web applications on top of ASP.NET, and with SP1 we are making it a lot easier for you. We encourage all ASP.NET developers to start taking advantage of what HTML5 and CSS3 has to offer already today. The Web Platform and Tools team takes web standards very seriously and you will see much better support for HTML5 and CSS3 in the future.