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.
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.
“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 Updates .NET, Visual Studio Online, Adds Cordova Support
Richard White, co-founder and CEO of UserVoice, a company that helps businesses better understand their users and which is announcing a new API for Visual Studio Online, said working with Microsoft on the project was a cinch because “we’re a SaaS solution and they’re a SaaS solution, and you can get up the integration in less than a minute. We use Web hooks on both sides.”
White said Visual Studio integration is one requested service for UserVoice “because this is very close to where the rubber meets the road” in terms of product development. “The challenge of Agile methodologies is you’re constantly looking for what next to build. With our service, UserVoice becomes your backlog.”
Harry said Microsoft will continue to deliver a series of tooling and framework updates that enable enterprise developers to embrace development opportunities with next-generation cloud and mobile applications. At TechEd, Microsoft shared a preview of the next version of ASP.NET, a streamlined framework and runtime that enables developers to optimize cloud and server workloads with maximum agility and performance. ASP.NET vNext will be a new Microsoft contribution to the .NET Foundation as an open-source project.
The new ASP .NET vNext enables ASP.NET developers to leverage their existing skills and create applications with automatic cloud support built in. It also enables a more agile Web development, with full side-by-side support per application and dynamic compilation based on the new .NET Compiler Platform. And it provides a flexible componentization as well as best-of-class performance and startup times.
The new platform will be part of the .NET Foundation as an open-source project, and will run across multiple platforms through a partnership with Xamarin. With more than 5 million downloads of Visual Studio 2013 to date, it is delivering on the promise of enabling developers to create universal Windows apps from one single project in Visual Studio, with the release of Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 RTM. Visual Studio 2013 developers can download the update here.
Enterprise developers are taking on the challenge of extending their line-of-business applications and processes further into hybrid and cloud-based environments. Microsoft’s Harry said these developers want to leverage the latest innovations in both proprietary and open-source technologies from various platform vendors, while still utilizing their core skills and preferences. They want to seize the opportunity to build, monitor and maintain the lifecycle of those applications and services as they span multiservice, multiscreen and multiplatform scenarios. Microsoft is giving enterprise development teams the tools to address these challenges.
In additional news, Microsoft announced further enhancements to the company’s DevOps portfolio, allowing customers to use PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) with an initial set of scripts to help ease configuration, automation and management of on-premises and Azure VM-based cloud infrastructure.
Microsoft also announced the OpsHub TFS to Visual Studio Online Migration Utility. Teams using TFS on-premises are now able to migrate their most commonly requested data, including source code, work items, test cases and test results, to their Visual Studio Online account.
And Microsoft announced that Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers will now be able to utilize an on-demand dev/test environment for their Windows client applications on Azure. Available today, virtual machine images for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 clients will be available in the Azure virtual machine gallery.