Microsoft's .NET Strategy Rests on Community Engagement, Better Tools

Microsoft program manager Mads Torgersen is sharing details on the company's approach to .NET languages and tooling after open-sourcing the technology.

Microsoft .NET Future

Microsoft made a splash in 2014 when the company announced it was open-sourcing key .NET components and again last year with the version 1.0 release of the modular, cross-platform .NET Core framework.

Now that the dust is settling, Microsoft program manager Mads Torgersen is sharing the company's vision for the .NET developer ecosystem, including the future of C#, F# and Visual Basic. His remarks, which he posted in this .NET Blog post, are not to be considered a roadmap, but rather forward-looking guidance. Nonetheless, they presage a shift toward an increase in community participation and engagement on Microsoft's part.

Building on the momentum established by the popular C# language—it routinely ranks among the top programming languages along with PHP, Python and JavaScript—Torgersen said Microsoft will continue to "innovate aggressively" while remaining mindful of the language's diverse developer base. As such, the company will pour its efforts on improving the language and its performance while not fixing its attention on specific segments.

Carrying forward the connected devices and services focus of C# 5.0, the upcoming 7.0 release will include "tuples and pattern matching as the biggest features, transforming and streamlining the flow of data and control in code," Torgersen said. Tuples are data structures with a set number of elements in a specific sequence.

As evidence of the community contributions to the C# language, Torgersen noted that with the release of version 6.0, language features are being accepted from beyond Microsoft. Interested developers are encouraged to follow the C# Language Design repository to engage with the community and have their voices heard.

F# will also benefit from language improvements, as well as a push from Microsoft to remove roadblocks to adoption and hurdles that may stymie productivity with enhanced code-editing and management capabilities. The version 4.1 release of F# "sees vastly improved tooling in Visual Studio through integration with Roslyn’s editor workspace abstraction, targeting of .NET Core and .NET Standard, and improved error messages from the compiler," Torgersen wrote.

"Much of the improved Visual Studio tooling and especially the improved error messages are a direct product of the strong F# open source community," he continued, adding that his company intends to make "F# the best-tooled functional programming language in the market."

Acknowledging the drubbing Visual Basic took in Stack Overflow's technology rankings—it topped the "most dreaded" list for 2016—Torgersen said the company will take steps to address the concerns of users who question the language's future and may feel left behind while languages like C# rack up new features.

In a separate post, Microsoft Visual Basic language designer Anthony D. Green, promised continued Visual Studio improvements for developers versed in Visual Basic, C# or both.

"Since VS2015 RTM [Visual Studio 2015 Release to Manufacturing] almost every refactoring we’ve released in quarterly updates has been available in both C# and Visual Basic," Green stated. "And in VS2017 the new Live Unit Testing feature works for both C# and Visual Basic. Since 2015 we’ve been working on a language-neutral analysis API to make library analyzers which target both Visual Basic and C# much easier."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...