Choosing the right edition of Visual Studio 2008 for your organization depends on your job role. This sounds like a simple process, but it’s complicated for IT pros who have multiple job roles.

This is not an issue in Visual Studio 2010. In Visual Studio 2010’s simplified tier structure, each tier — aside from Test Professional (which is the only role-specific version left) — adds features to the previous tier. (Common components are discussed in my previous reviews of Visual Studio 2010.) In this article, we will look at what the Ultimate edition of Visual Studio 2010 offers.


  • Product: Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate
  • Cost: $11,899
  • Supported operating systems: Windows 2003 Server, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7
  • Additional information: Product Web Site

Who is the target market?

Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate includes nearly everything a developer would need to access from Microsoft. This edition of Visual Studio is for developers who need to do application design, development, and testing.

What problems does it solve?

The standout feature in Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate is IntelliTrace (Figure A), also known as historical debugging. When debugging an application, if a state change caused problems later in the program’s execution, you must put a break point before the change would occur and execute the program or test again. With IntelliTrace, you can examine the execution history and view the state at a particular line of code.
Figure A

For performance reasons, IntelliTrace records events by default. However, full call tracing can be turned on through the Options menu (Figure B). Although IntelliTrace files can only be fully utilized with the Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate edition, Test Manager can generate them. This allows testers to attach fully debuggable log files with bug reports.
Figure B

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The new architecture tools make it easier to view the relationships between classes and layers. At first glance, Architecture Explorer (Figure C) is a glorified Class View. However, the ability to drill down, filter, and quickly export to interactive class diagrams (Figure D) puts this in the category of a power tool. The layer diagram with dependency validation and layer explorer allows you to get a handle on the inter-layer dependencies that occur without constant attention on separation of concerns. You can also create common UML diagrams to include in your project and associate them with Team Foundation Server work items.
Figure C

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Figure D

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There are two exclusive tests for ASP.NET sites: Web Performance Test and Load Test (Figure E).
Figure E

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Creating a Web Performance Test (Figure F) will run the web application while recording your actions.
Figure F

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The Load Test (Figure G) then aggregates multiple performance tests and runs them as though many users were doing the same actions at one time.
Figure G

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Standout features

  • IntelliTrace
  • Architecture tools
  • Web Performance and Load Testing

What’s wrong?

The price is nearly double that of Visual Studio 2010 Premium, which costs $5,469. If you only need access to the Lab Management capabilities of Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate, it would be cheaper to purchase Visual Studio 2010 Premium and Test Professional. The Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate-only tools are useful but expensive.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate edition is most useful for developers who need a comprehensive suite for a full application management lifecycle. For smaller shops, this version may be cost prohibitive. Many developers have everything they need with the Premium edition of Visual Studio 2010, but architects will need the Ultimate edition of Visual Studio 2010 to get access to architecture tools. The most compelling reason for developers to use Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate edition is for the troubleshooting capabilities with IntelliTrace.

I recommend that businesses consider Visual Studio 2010 Premium edition as their first choice and purchase Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate edition only if the features are worth an extra six grand.

More Visual Studio 2010 resources on TechRepublic

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