From Austin: Microsoft Open Source Development Updates for 2015

Microsoft's Jay Schmelzer kicks off Visual Studio Live! in Austin, Texas highlighting the company's latest open source efforts within Visual Studio 2015 and the .NET Framework.

As the Microsoft development world opens up and moves from a Windows-centric platform, so too are its primary development tools Visual Studio and the .NET Framework. Jay Schmelzer, Microsoft's director of program management for .NET, kicked off the Austin, Texas Visual Studio Live! event on Tuesday, June 2 with a keynote address that previewed what's coming in the 2015 editions of both Visual Studio and the .NET Framework. The event was held at the Austin Hyatt Regency and ran from June 1-4.

Using the full hour and speaking to a full room, Schmelzer outlined the investments Microsoft has made in the Visual Studio platform and the .NET Framework, how those investments are manifested in the forthcoming updates, and how those tie into what's happening right now in the application development world.

"We're expanding the scope of Microsoft's development tooling, frameworks and runtime beyond the focus on Windows and Windows devices to include any developer and any application," he says, referring to the recent open sourcing of most of Microsoft's development stack. "We're bringing to bear assets to help them be more effective. We want to help developers target new environments and new platforms."

Moving into the demo portion of the keynote, which comprised about 40 percent of the time, Schmelzer showed the recent updates and the open source aspects of both Visual Studio and the .NET Framework. "I highlighted the investments we've made in tooling and support for Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), live property editing enhancements to the Visual Studio debugging experience, using support around lambda and link queries, and using C# and .NET to build iOS apps using our partnership with Xamarin."

He also demonstrated live apps running on cross platforms. "We showed a .NET cross-platform example of a .NET app running on Linux," he says. "Then we did an ASP.NET 5 demo that showed the core changes to modularity of that framework, the flexibility of it and the new project system. We're now focused on pages versus references. We also showed Visual Studio code and an ASP.NET 5 Web site running on a Mac."

Schmelzer says these enhancements are all about developer productivity. "We're helping developers be more productive with the solutions they have today. We're enabling better collaboration, whether they're using Visual Studio or not." Schmelzer says the thanks to continued progress on Microsoft's partnership with Xamarin, developers can now easily collaborate across Mac and Windows laptops with Visual Studio to build native iOS apps and Windows apps.

That open collaboration path also extends to server platforms and Linux. "Developers can also focus on using existing .NET skills to build server apps to run on Linux, in addition to Windows devices," he says. "The cross platform and open source .NET is really exciting. That's near and dear to my heart, having been a .NET developer in early days before I came to Microsoft. We always wanted the ability to get productivity of .NET deployed to other platforms. Seeing that come to reality is exciting."

The focus is not entirely on Windows anymore, he reiterates. "Windows is still important, but we're realizing we need to give .NET developers the ability to take those skills building apps for Windows and help them apply that to whatever devices -- iOS, Android and Linux. That's the biggest thing to get from a hands-on developer perspective."

Schmelzer feels this new direction ties into strategic shifts occurring in the business world. "Every company is becoming a software company. The role of software is an increasingly strategic aspect of any business," he says. "The role of application developers is becoming increasingly important. It's an exciting time to be an application developer."

Schmelzer will be reprising his keynote at the upcoming Visual Studio Live! event in San Francisco, June 15 -18.

About the Author

Lafe Low has been a technology editor and writer for more than 25 years. Most recently, he was the editor in chief of TechNet magazine. He has also held various editorial positions with Redmond magazine, CIO magazine and InfoWorld. He also launched his own magazine entitled Explore New England, and has published four editions of his guidebook The Best in Tent Camping: New England.

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