Microsoft revamps its developer tools with a new cloud focus

Also a flurry of announcements on mobile and open source offerings

Microsoft's Connect event in New York targets cloud developers
Microsoft's Connect event in New York targets cloud developers

Microsoft has announced new developers tools and services at its Connect event under way in New York. The forked, open source version of the .NET platform, called .NET Core, is now at Release Candidate status, as is ASP.NET 5.0, Microsoft's web application framework.

These are now available under a "Go-Live" licence, which means production use is supported.

.NET Core is only a subset of the full, Windows-only .NET Framework, but has the advantage that it runs cross-platform on Windows, Mac and Linux.

I get the impression that Microsoft itself will use it increasingly for Azure internals, and that .NET development is now happening first on Core, with changes back-ported to the Windows .NET Framework. The announcement of .NET Core as a supported production platform is significant.

Visual Studio Code – a cross-platform programmer's editor with some basic IDE features – is now in beta and being published as open source. The editor is based on Google's Chromium project, as also used in the Chrome browser. Visual Studio Code is also getting extensibility.

Visual Studio Code is going open source

Visual Studio Code is going open source

"Extensions add the ability to expand the capabilities of Visual Studio Code with additional features, themes, and language support," according to Microsoft. The extensibility model is based on JavaScript, as you would expect given the project's core technology.

Initial extensions include support for Google's Go language, Object Pascal, and a spell checker.

Microsoft's relationship with Google seems to be improving, at least on the developer side. Google will be on stage at Connect to talk about its adoption of the Microsoft-originated TypeScript language with its Angular JavaScript framework. Perhaps that is related to there being more news about Android support than for Windows Mobile.

Continuing the cross-platform theme, the Visual Studio emulator for Android is being ported to Mac OS X. On Windows this runs on Hyper-V, but on the Mac it will use the open source Virtual Box.

A new service called CodePush is in beta. This is aimed at developers of mobile apps using the JavaScript-based frameworks Apache Cordova or Facebook React, and lets you push JavaScript or data updates to deployed applications.

Visual Studio Update 1 and new Marketplace

The full Visual Studio IDE on Windows is not neglected. Update 1, the first major update to Visual Studio 2015, is set for release on 30 November.

This update adds debugging for Android Java code, TypeScript 1.7 support, a new hub for pull requests (asking for a code update to be committed to the main code in a repository), Edit and Continue for C++ Universal Windows applications compiled using the /bigobj option, and other improvements.

There is also a public preview of Visual Studio GDB Debugger Extension, for remote Linux debugging, and the full release of updated Node.js tools with support for Node.js 4.x.

Docker Tools for Visual Studio, for working with Docker containers for both Linux and Windows, is now at Release Candidate stage.

Microsoft has also announced a new Visual Studio Marketplace where developers can purchase subscriptions and extensions for Visual Studio, initially from Microsoft, but with third-party extensions to be available at a later date.

One of the products available in this new store will be a new variety of Visual Studio Professional or Enterprise subscription, priced per month or per year. Microsoft already offers Visual Studio subscriptions as part of its MSDN developer network service, but these new subscriptions are "optimised for small and walk-up organisations", according to the company's press briefing, and can be paid for as part of your Azure billing.

Another extension in the Marketplace is HockeyApp, for analytics and crash reports from mobile applications. Microsoft acquired HockeyApp in late 2014.


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