Microsoft Updates .NET, Visual Studio Online, Adds Cordova Support

Microsoft launched new functionality for developers at TechEd 2014, including a preview of the next ASP.NET and API support for Visual Studio Online.

Microsoft continued on its course of arming developers to build applications for the devices-first, cloud-first world by announcing new .NET technology, integrated support for building cross-platform mobile apps and other Visual Studio enhancements, among other things.

Last month at its Build 2014 conference, Microsoft introduced the concept of Universal Windows Apps, where developers use a single code base to create apps that run across Windows and Windows Phone platforms. Today at its TechEd 2014 conference in Houston, Microsoft is adding to that with a new preview release of Visual Studio tooling for creating hybrid apps using HTML and JavaScript, built on top of the open-source Apache Cordova platform.

Microsoft Technical Fellow and Corporate Vice President Brian Harry told eWEEK this move follows Microsoft's support for the Xamarin platform. Last November, Microsoft announced a partnership with Xamarin to enable C# and Visual Studio developers to target additional mobile devices, including iOS and Android. Visual Studio and .NET provide developer productivity for application developers targeting the Windows family of devices. With Xamarin, developers can take this productivity to iOS and Android as well. And with Xamarin working closely with Microsoft on the newly formed .NET Foundation, additional innovation can be expected.

Indeed, with these tools, developers can easily target Android, iOS, Windows and Windows Phone platforms, while taking advantage of Visual Studio's HTML and JavaScript editor tooling and debugging experiences. With this new capability, Visual Studio developers get more choices, letting them pursue the multidevice strategy best suited for their needs: native device apps powered by .NET and Xamarin or hybrid apps powered by HTML and JavaScript.

"This is the next big step in that path," Harry said. "My gut is that this is going to kind of come as a bit of a surprise to some people. This gives us a good spectrum of coverage for the toolset. The idea that you can hit F5 and have your application run on a Mac is going to resonate with developers."

Visual Studio developers can now build Windows, iOS and Android native applications with .NET and Xamarin or hybrid applications with Apache Cordova. Microsoft also released Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 RTM, including support for universal Windows apps.

Microsoft has extended Visual Studio Online, the company's cloud-based application lifecycle management [ALM] offering, by releasing a set of APIs and service hooks that integrate with third-party services, according to Harry. The new APIs make it easier for organizations to adopt Visual Studio Online without abandoning the tools they're using today, he said.

"At Build we announced the GA [general availability] of Visual Studio Online; at TechEd, we're announcing a new set of standard ways of operating with Visual Studio Online," Harry said. "You need some sort of hub for your ALM process. You want to be able to pick for-purpose features and use what you want. That's what we're providing here—services built with REST, OAuth and standard hooks."

Microsoft is announcing that 18 partners are launching APIs for Visual Studio Online, including Kato, UserVoice and ZenDesk.