First of all I would like to say this tool has improved quite a bit since the last version. However, I still feel that it has a long way to go before a SharePoint developer would actually consider using it. The functionality I am targeting today is the web part functionality. Before that, I'll point out some things I ran into before I could get the product to work at all.
A lot of this is due to the environment I created, but it's worth pointing out in case someone has a familiar environment. When I installed this particular VM, I chose the quick install to save time. As you know this installs a version of SQL Server Express as well as creates Central Admin and your SSP for you running with the Network Service account. This is where the first issue is. The application pool running the VSeWSS web service has to be a member of the Local Administrators group (Administrators if you are on a Domain Controller). This builtin account cannot be added to that group (to the best of my knowledge), so you have to create a new account (which I prefer anyway) to run the application pool for Central Administration and the VSeWSS site. I did all this and I went into the database and gave this account db_owner permission on the config and central admin content databases and for the most part everything works. I can package a solution and deploy it (however I still get an error activating the feature). This was at least enough to get to the point where I could test it.
Now about using the tool itself. I really like the added options to Deploy, Package, and Retract Solutions added to the context menu of your solution. These all seemed to work really well. I was able to create a quick Hello World web part and deploy it. I activated it manually and was able to view it immediately. One thing, I am very appreciative of is the ability to choose between a Full Trust or Partial Trust web part when you create the project. You still have to specify the Code Access Security settings yourself, but at least it is possible now. I am also a fan of the new options to quick deploy directly to the bin folder and 12 hive.
As a SharePoint developer, I put a lot of files into solution packages. Pages, XML files, Master Pages, Site Template Definitions, you name it. I want to be able to put these files in my wsp. I assumed WSP View would have this functionality. You can get to it by going to View -> Other Windows -> WSP View. Maybe, there is functionality there, but I couldn't figure out how to add any files to the package. You have no direct access to the DDF file and there are no menu options to allow you to customize or add files in WSP view. There is an option to add another feature, but you can't customize what files to add along with the feature. Somehow, when you create a new web part project, the .webpart file shows up in the WSP view, but I have no idea how. This by itself, means I can't use this tool. Again, if I am just being stupid and can't find it, let me know. The one thing I will note here is that you can customize the manfiest file here.
Another thing, I found lacking is that I can only add one web part per project. Sure, I can manually create another class, but I want it to generate the .webpart file for me and put it in the solution.
Features I would like to see:
- Remote SharePoint Server support - Let me install it on a Windows XP machine (without WSS obviously) and specify the URL to my SharePoint server.
- Ability to customize contents of WSP file
- Better CAS support - A tool to help determine security policies would be great
- Multiple web parts in one project
- Better control of what goes into the solution package
I know the product is just a CTP, so hopefully, with some good feedback we can get a tool we can all use. I guess for now its back to manual creation, stsdev, or WSPBuilder. Microsoft has relied on the community too long for SharePoint tools, it is time they produce.
I have also cross posted this to the SharePoint Developer Forum.