Visual Studio 11

The Visual Studio 11 release candidate has been announced over on the Visual Studio blog. This is relevant to me since we are just upgrading to Visual Studio 9 at work. Visual Studio 11 is also known as Visual Studio 2012. At work we are moving to Visual Studio 2008. That Microsoft is at a release candidate means the Beta is coming to an end. They are getting close to shipping.

Strangely enough, I had to go to Jason Zander's blog to find out the details on the VS11 release. Wouldn't you think the feature list might be a good thing to post on the Visual Studio blog? LOL. Anyway, Zander goes through what made it into this release candidate.

They got the .NET framework 4.5. Visual Studio also has a new logo which people are complaining about. There is something called a "dark theme". No clue what the hell that means. Details please. Microsoft eliminated some of the menu bulk the solution explorer. Thank you.

Of course VS11 supports Metro (Windows 8). They got templates to support Metro apps. The also have the Entity Framework 5. Maybe I will provide more on that later. They have added Intellisense for HTML 5. Very good. Finally the release candidate will provide a "go live" license allowing you to create production code from it.

Unfortunately it might be a few years before we upgrade to Visual Studio 11 at my work. Might be as long as three or four years. We trail the cutting edge to protect agaisnt bleeding.

Task Estimates

We had an iteration to upgrade some tools for our software. Went to a new Oracle client. Moved to Visual Studio 2008. Got a big jump in the Installshield version we were using. And moved up a version or two with InstallShield. We converted a lot of the projects. Then we headed into unit testing. The suits wanted a detailed breakdown of the work. The team lead broke the items down into modules. He used a rough estimate of one hour per module. Turns out that estimate was nowhere near accurate.

Now we are behind schedule. We have two problems. The unit testing is not close to being complete. And management wants a more detailed schedule. Adding more fidelity to the schedule might increase insight into the work being done. But it won't make us finish any quicker. We actually have to spend time to work on the schedule now. I layed out the two big challenges: (1) a bad set of initial estimates, and (2) surprise problems coming up during unit testing. No amount of high quality estimates are going to protect us against surprises.

Managers seem to only know about schedules. But they cannot generate the schedules. They need developers to do that. This is a catch-22. We need to finish up unit testing. That takes developer effort and resources. Now we need to manage the management who want to thelp. Their help is limited to assigning us more tasks that deal with the schedule. Feels like we are getting help we did not ask for. And that help isn't helping. It is hurting. Nothing new here through, right?

The Way to Woo

My company has some significant benefits. They pay me a large salary. On top of that, they drop a huge chunk of change into my 401k each year. They do that regardless of whether I contribute. My retirement is looking good for now. The company also has money and time allotted each year for my training. That is nice. I just have to arrange the time off from my project. The costs and pay are already arranged. You got to love that. These benefits help keep me on the job. There may be things wrong with the position and company. Benefits are right.

A lot of times I think that I have some golden handcuffs keeping me at my company. Other jobs would be too much of a cut in pay or benefits to even consider. Then the other day I spotted a job listing that made me think a bit. They offered what the called Rock Star benefits. They will take care of the full cost of medical insurance. Nice. Their education budget was three times what my company offers. This is unheard of until now. They also give a lot more vacation than my company. What the heck?

Then I saw what the hubbub was all about. This company needed people with high level Department of Defense security clearances. Those developers are hard to come by. They make their companies good money and very profitable. They are limited in number. Someone has to have already taken the time and paid for their security clearance. I wonder if my good friend who has such a clearance is ready for this high life? I am ready but not qualified. Damn.