Technology

Microsoft Hones Visual Studio for Cross Platform, Open Source Development

16 Nov 2016 8:38am, by

Microsoft continued its push to be all things to all developers at its Connect(); 2016 conference in New York this week, announcing a series of tools and steps to support cross-platform, open-source development environments and communities more completely.

Julia Liuson, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of the Visual Studio and .NET Framework teams at Microsoft, said the company continues to advance its “Any Developer, Any App, Any Platform” strategy to attract developers.

As part of that effort, at Connect(); Microsoft previewed its new Visual Studio for Mac solution, which enables developers to write cloud, mobile and macOS apps on Apple’s Mac operating system using the popular development environment. However, Visual Studio for Mac is not a full-fledged version of Microsoft’s flagship Visual Studio toolset, but more of a new, more Microsoft-ized version of Xamarin Studio, which Microsoft attained in its acquisition of Xamarin earlier this year. Xamarin Studio is a cross-platform C# development environment.

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Visual Studio for Mac

“Deeper support for Mac developers is another step in this overall direction and a good leverage of the Xamarin Studio asset Microsoft acquired,” Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC, told The New Stack. “It is important to think of the Visual Studio brand as that of a family of IDEs, not a single one.”

Also, broadening its appeal to other platforms, Microsoft also announced the availability of Azure App Service support on Linux preview with native Linux support for Node.js and PHP stacks on Azure App Service. Azure App Service is Microsoft’s PaaS offering aimed at enabling developers to build cloud, web and mobile apps for any platform or device.

The Xamarin.Forms XAML Live Preview

The Xamarin.Forms XAML Live Preview

Moreover, further leveraging its Xamarin assets, Microsoft announced the Visual Studio Mobile Center preview, which brings together the cloud and lifecycle services that help developers build, test, distribute and monitor apps built in Objective-C, Swift, Java, Xamarin and React Native for Android, iOS and Windows-based devices.

“We’re launching a set of mobile offerings, really leveraging the Xamarin assets we acquired,” Liuson said. “We’re combining Xamarin Insights, Xamarin Test Cloud and some of the internal Microsoft assets like HockeyApp. We’re putting all of that together into Visual Studio Mobile Center.”

HockeyApp is a service for mobile crash analytics and app distribution for developers building apps on iOS, Android and Windows that Microsoft acquired two years ago.

Liuson also noted that Samsung is releasing a preview of their Visual Studio Tools for Tizen. The offering, based on Microsoft’s open-source .NET Core implementation, enables developers to build .NET apps for the Tizen operating system that runs on millions of Samsung devices, including TVs, wearables, mobile, and many IoT devices, around the world, Microsoft said.

“We want to help developers achieve more and capitalize on the industry’s shift toward cloud-first and mobile-first experiences using the tools and platforms of their choice,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Cloud and Enterprise group at Microsoft, in a statement. “By collaborating with the community to provide open, flexible and intelligent tools and cloud services, we’re helping every developer deliver unprecedented levels of innovation.”

Samsung joined the .NET Foundation over the summer. The company’s Tizen OS is a Linux Foundation project. As part of opening up its platform, at Connect(); Microsoft announced it has joined the Linux Foundation as a platinum member. Microsoft also announced that Google has joined the .NET Foundation.

“Microsoft is transforming the nature of its appeal to developers by broadening its supported platforms,” Hilwa said in a statement. “The new partnerships and commitments allow Microsoft to meet developers where they are and multiply its reach and impact with mobile and cloud developers as well as become established in emerging areas such as IoT, data science and cognitive computing.”

Meanwhile, Microsoft also gave an official name to the latest version of Visual Studio and released the Visual Studio 2017 Release Candidate (RC). Microsoft also announced the availability of Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2017 and Azure Application Insights to deliver a collaboration and DevOps platform for any developer building any app for any platform, Microsoft said.

“These moves are aimed at a continued effort to broaden the Microsoft developer ecosystem beyond Windows,” Hilwa said. “The announcements shift the company further and further into a broad platform player with strengthening support for non-Windows developers. Joining the Linux Foundation would have been unimaginable but is now seems natural in light of the company’s effort to attract Linux workloads to Azure, porting SQL Server and open sourcing .NET.”

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