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Microsoft wraps tool bundle

The giant announces the final piece of its Visual Studio 6.0, slated to debut in September.

Microsoft announced today the final piece of its Visual Studio 6.0 development tool bundle.

As earlier reported, Visual C++ 6.0, slated to debut in September along with the rest of the company's Visual Studio 6.0 development tool package, adds new features aimed at increasing programmer productivity and making it easier to link third-party data sources.

Microsoft has added its IntelliSense technology, a popular feature of its Visual Basic tool, to Visual C++ 6.0. The technology helps programmers code more efficiently by automatically suggesting class members, function prototypes, and other information as they type.

A second major new feature, called Edit and Continue, allows programmers to edit code while they debug without having to quit the debugging session and recompile. The feature can make building applications much faster, since programmers spend less time waiting for code to recompile before discovering if their changes work, said Marie Huwe, a product manager at Microsoft.

Overall, Microsoft claims that Visual C++ 6.0 compiles code faster and produces compiled code that runs faster than previous versions.

Visual C++ 6.0 also now includes support for building Dynamic HTML applications, and for creating new Composite ActiveX controls. Microsoft said the new controls let developers reuse existing ActiveX controls by combining and modifying them to create new controls.

Like other Microsoft tools, Visual C++ 6.0 has been updated with tools to allow the creation of applications with Internet Explorer-like user interfaces.

As part of the new release, Microsoft reworked Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC), its set of foundation tools for constructing applications. MFC, like other class libraries, gives programmers a set of building blocks for quickly adding new features to applications, such as a browser front end, without having to build them from scratch.

The updated MFC adds the Internet Explorer controls and has been reworked to produce smaller applications, the company said.

Finally, the tool now works better with database software from Oracle and with Microsoft's own server-based software, such as its Transaction Server, Management Console, and Cluster Server.

Microsoft announced Visual Studio 6.0 Enterprise Edition, a new package of its development tools intended to be more enterprise-friendly, earlier this month at its TechEd conference in New Orleans.

Visual Studio 6.0 includes Visual C++ 6.0, Visual Basic 6.0, Visual InterDev 6.0, Visual FoxPro 6.0, and Visual J++ 6.0. All are slated to ship in September. No pricing has been announced.